Over the years I have been involved in a number of membership organizations related to Western culture and history. There is a common outcry among them: “Look around! Everyone here has gray hair! If we don’t get young people involved, we’re done!” (Add as many exclamation points as you like.) You’ve probably heard the same stuff.
It would be silly to deny that most such organizations are largely populated by people of late middle age and beyond. The evidence is there, for everyone to see.
But does it matter?
Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with attracting younger members and I am all for it. On the other hand, I see no reason to panic.
Because, if my observations over the past couple of decades (or longer) are any indication, while members aren’t getting any younger, they aren’t getting any older, either. On average, of course. I suspect the age range, the mean, the average, and all those other measures have remained fairly constant.
The reason? I believe interest in such things is something most people have to grow into. When you’re a teenager, a young parent, a working stiff, your time and energy are necessarily devoted to other things. You tend to be more concerned with whatever you’re dealing with today and what you’ll be facing tomorrow than with what happened in the past.
But when the pace of life decelerates, and your outlook on life changes with maturity, so do your interests. And, for a lot of people, those interests include history, and ancestry, and all the other things that made cowboy culture what it is. And continuing and preserving all that stuff becomes important to us.
Keep after those young people. Some of them will see the importance of the things we older folks value. But most of them probably won’t.
At least not until they become older folks.