Part of the problem or part of the solution....
As in all volunteer organizations - they are living organisms. They have life cycles – some rapid and some more subtle.
There is no doubt there is a national trend in all clubs to becoming older and less involved as the national demographic changes. Gen X and Y do things differently than the “Boomers”. They don’t do clubs – they have other forms of social connections – so far.
With that said I want to address our individual responsibilities (contributions) to any organization. Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?
Case in point. I belong to a tiny little yacht club (30 families) it is a very grass roots club and family friendly – mostly sailors but a few power boaters. We have one member who is openly talking trash about members, uses foul language often, complains that nothing ever happens in the club, the officers are incompetent and don’t know how to run a club, that this is a sailboat club not a powerboat club – the power boaters should find another club. This member hangs around the club often – rearranges the furniture, reorganizes already organized drawers, puts in receipts for unauthorized purchases and expects immediate reimbursement from the treasurer. Our events have less and less participation and I figure we will loose 40% of our members this next cycle – leaving the club insolvent. This member clearly wants change – to have a better club.
Part of the problem or part of the solution?
This next board has the unenviable job to decide what to do. Are they going to be part of the solution or the problem?
So – yes, Most Chapters are aging, many stuck in the 80s, have done a poor job of recruitment and retention, have not reached out into their communities, not open to other forms of flight, and perhaps even elitist where visitors feel unwelcome. [never to come back]
What are you going to do?
We all have a choice – individually – part of the problem or part of the solution.
Getting past the problem and being part of the solution takes effort – many of the chapters have negative momentum and will need commitment and vision to slow the progress and turn it around. It will be 2-5 years of work and finding, maybe from the outside, others who will join you.
National knows this….that’s why they have chapter leadership academy. Why there are grass root tours – chapter video magazines, why top leadership is involved daily with supporting the chapters….They have made a choice.
How are you going to be an instrument of support and change?
The glass is half full or half empty - YOUR choice.
I agree and as a chapter president, I am mindful of the need to grow and attract younger members. It is a priority for our chapter this year. Did you happen to read the post on facebook by Dick VanGrunsven echoing the need to support EAA to help preserve the future of GA ? It can be read here, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vans-...24057147604660 . As you stated, how to attract younger members on their terms is the variable that hasn't been completely conquered, and it is vital to survival. I am hopeful that we can attract some young members this year and then ask them how do we attract others and have them help lead the way.
Thanks Tom. Exactly. There have been contributors to this forum who are the half empty kind of people. I wanted to provide a opportunity to have a paradigm shift - to have hope and engage in change - just not lament the "good ole days" .
Just like our parents who couldn't understand us....it is our generation's need to find a pathway to aviation that is engaging and rewarding for the gen X and Ys. IMHO creating a critical mass of 30-40 YO is vital for each chapter's life.
My chapter had 4 new members this last year. We might see 2 of them in any activity. We lost 4 to "flying west". Based on the demographic, we will see an acceleration of "flights west" in the next 5 years.
I have remained on the board to continue to redirect the stagnation and decline. I will make it my focus for this year.
Jim.....I would like your permission to print this post in our January ChapterGram. This is excellent. Sorry for the short time frame...I need to know by tomorrow. Thanks!!
Trevor, since this is a public forum I assume I have given permission. Go for it.....Jim
I'm a member of a small aviation club that will not be named. After poseing the question "Recruitment Ideas" I got a lot of flack. The argument posed was we should spend more effort in retention than recruitment. I suggested that the pilot demographic is aging and the only way to maintain our aging club was to keep bringing in fresh blood. Not that we should in-turn forget our current members. It seems to me as we age we get to where we don't like change so much. I hate change as much as the next guy but if we can't learn to change we have no future. That being said we should also honor our past and show reverence to those who paved the way. But all is going well now with some fresh ideas and open minds we are looking at a brighter future for our club.
As for the rotten apple. All it takes is one right. We had one of them. All this particular person added to the club was drama. It got to the point where he was hindering any progress we were making. Once it got to the point where personal attacks and uncivil accusations were made and after about two months of explaining to him he needed to calm down his attacks. The BOD refunded him his dues and bid him his fair well. Best thing that could have happened. Not to say we don't promote people too voice their opinions but it can be done in a civil manner. We sure do have some healthy debates. Pilots, A types right.
May be as members we should be more worried about what we can do for the club and not what "I" can get out of the club. If we make that the status-quo, the club will be there for us when we actually need it. A club is only as good as it's members.
Thank you EAA
The only reason I chose to keep my club anonymous is I don't want to look like I'm airing any dirty laundry here.
This thread deserves some serious attention from chapter leaders.
Thank you Middelbrook for being part of the solution. As has been said before - if you are not growing you are dieing. My history with my chapter is noted in another thread but in synops - I was ignored. I came back after realizing I needed the chapter community and I needed to be part of the solution.
On the note of bad apple and my little boat club - the member was asked to lunch and met with 3 members of the board. Informed that an investigation was held, behavior was unacceptable and revoking membership was/is an option for future bad behavior. We shall see what happens. The BOD was being part of the solution.
We have 3 choices: part of the problem, part of the solution , or at least get out of the way of the solution
Jim seeing as I am new to all this. Only be in this for a few years and have done everything in my power to try and bring some aviation into my life, just to be knocked down time and time by the people whom have been doing this for years.
Originally Posted by Jim Heffelfinger
Aviation is dead or dieing because of the people involved. Why do you believe any of these people are going to step up and change things. Speaking for myself, I have contacted a couple local clubs to have the door slammed in my face, well one slammed the door, the other is just done.
The only solution I see is start another club. I talked about this with not only my friends but the park owner where my airplane is hangered. NOT ONE person wanted anything to do with this. From the park owner to my friends. You must ask yourself why?
Aviation is heading the way the people in power want it to head. Saying anything less is burying ones head in the sand.
Because politics plays such a role in aviation one really has two choices: 1. Ride the tide and fly as long as we are aloud 2. Stop now. I have my own issue's and will only be flying maybe 10 years, maybe. I choose to fly this short time I have and not waste my time trying to follow a dream that is already gone.
Now things have taken a turn to the better as a far as SP going a little further and maybe bleeding over into GA where one can fly off their drivers licenses for medical. Now " if " this happens you might see a surge back in aviation when it comes to the smaller planes. But that is a big IF.
Aviation is not a poor mans game. One must either wait until the kids are grown to have the cash, or they have the cash. I believe both these groups or gone too. Fathers don't live with families and we have very few whom have the cash just laying around unless your maybe this guy.
Last edited by 1600vw; 01-08-2014 at 08:08 AM.
The bias that flying is a rich man’s sport can be part of the reason why some people act in such a manor. If you give up and throw in the towel you are no better the ones closing the door. Give these people a chance to get to know you, some of these clubs might not have had any new members in years. I’m not promoting such behavior and yes the group will suffer from these attitudes. When one encounters such actions they may feel like an intruder and they might be perceived as on as well. It can take some time for them to come around be persistent. When people act like this it’s best not to be pushy but make sure they see whatyou are able to provide for the club everyone has their own abilities. Again I’mnot making any excuses. I believe there should be a wide open door and a neonsign “Come One Come All” or all you have to do is offer a pot luck and you will have half the community there.
I knew I could not afford to buy a 30k, 40k plane and afford to fly, hanger and maintain it. I could afford the plane but for what just to say I have it. Why have a plane I can’t fly. So I optedfor a partnership at 5k. It’s no different from people driving high end cars verses low end cars. I chose to become a pilot and chase my dream. I did not become a pilot for the status or to be envied by others. I did it for me and mealone. There are people out there who does not spend their money on new cars,big oversized houses in expensive locations or much of anything other than aviation. That’s where I fall. The lower side of middleclass.
There are plenty of people out there who at face value one could, by current social standards, be perceived as "poor" but they may be better off than one might give them credit for. Just as there are ones who look to be very well off because of the “stuff” they have, might be in debt up to their eye balls. There are many avenues in which one can take to flight. It depends on where you chose to spend your money. I don’t know who the “Jones’s” are, so the last thing I’m worried about is keeping up with them.
Everything takes money no matter what you are trying to achieve. Flying becomes a rich man’s game when you overreach financially. One has to stay within their means and try not to be enviousof those you may perceive as being better off (the lucky ones who have more money, who don’t have to worry about money, who don’t have to work the long hours I do). This is all relative there is always someone more financially sound than the next. If we maintain this “we deserve what everybody else has sort of mentality” it will eat us up and will never truly prosper.
I’m sorry if I got of subject here and for any rambling. I also do not mean to step on anyone’s toes. Just my opinion, it maynot be worth much but it’s how I feel and the way I chose to live.
Last edited by middlebrook04; 01-08-2014 at 02:28 PM.
Donald, not at all a ramble - as I noted in my posts there are those who have a half a glass - others who have whole glass just half full.
First impressions are so terribly important - in all we do. Even on a forum like this. In chapters that have a "history" steeped in 30 years of social connections an outsider might be viewed as a threat rather than a new friend and ally . Constructive introspection and practice - perhaps even conscience scripting in how you meet new people in a "closed society" might be a pathway to success. As in all things - attitude is everything - like the thread lead says - part of the problem or part of the solution.
One of the best tools - noted in other threads in this section of the forums - is having a designated greeter - someone who stands by the door with smile and handshake at the ready. The guest is quickly assessed to interest and passed on to another member of that interest group. New members are openly welcomed on formally joining and given a direct opportunity to join a committee of interest. This takes a bit of salesmanship - "welcome to Chapter 123, thank you for joining us - what committee are you planning on being part of?" Engagement is key here - with mentorship within the whole group as well as sub committee work. Some people are self directing and know what they want but most are timid in new social situations and will stand in the back of the room as long as you let them. Don't give them the choice.... they want to be part of something in aviation - the reason they made a trip to the meeting/activity. Give them something to do.... quickly. The social connections come through activity/engagement.
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