The Official on line magazine of the
North American Frontiersmen
FROM THE EDITOR
In this issue one of our Elders submitted an excellent article that we would like to share with everyone about getting the attention of the younger folks that will be the future of this way of life, living history, enjoy. BC
HOW TO ATTRACT YOUNG PEOPLE TO THE NAF—AND KEEP THEM
By George Thompson
When children are very young, they go where their parents take them. To those who are fortunate enough to be taken to a Buckskinning Rendezvous, life must seem good indeed. What child would not love the freedom of Rendezvous, the fun activities around the campfire with Mom and Dad, the adventure of learning to throw a tomahawk and knife, and later to learn to shoot a muzzleloader?
It has been my experience, both with my own three sons, and by observing the children of friends and acquaintances, that young people generally tend to begin to lose interest in the rendezvous life about the time they reach their early to mid-teens. Ever so slowly their enthusiasm wanes and their reduced enjoyment of the rendezvous becomes painfully apparent. To those of us adults for whom our Buckskinning experiences have become one of the high point of our lives, this transition can lead us to ask ourselves how we can keep our young people active, interested, and excited about the hobby that has changed our lives and motivated us to go to great lengths, effort, and expense to enjoy a lifestyle that many of us have been pursuing for many years.
First and foremost, I do not think it is possible to force anybody to enjoy something they simply do not enjoy. Many parents become puzzled as to why their children have lost interest in something that remains vibrant and fun for themselves. I have seen parents become sad and wondering what they did wrong to induce this lack of interest in their offspring. I got my spark through the Disney Davy Crockett and through reading the adventures of George F. Ruxton, Francis Parkman, Bernard DeVoto, and many other authors. For me, the seed was planted and it remained only for me to find the venues to exploit the fire of interest that had been ignited by my reading. I have noticed that most mountain men and Buckskinners love to read. Kids today tend to read what they have to and not as much as we did for enjoyment. I have sponsored several junior members, both into the NAF and similar organizations, and one of the central commonalities of the boys is that they nearly all loved to read for enjoyment.
A second point is that as kids grow older they gain insight and interest in doing thing right. At that point, parents, mentors, and adults who are authentic and endeavor to “do it right” keep the respect and admiration of the young ones better than ones who cheat and/or try to cut corners. This seemingly minor point can turn idealistic young people off.
If they are interested enough to be at an event under their own steam, they are probably interested in doing it “right.” So, the idea is to set a good example and not cut corners or to do things the easy way.
Thirdly, I have seen teenagers and young people who are given hand me downs and ill-fitting clothing and gear to use at rendezvous. Pride in ones outfit and equipment is integral to us adults and should be to those who we wish to retain their interest.
Last, get out on the ground as often as possible and do things as correctly as possible.
You are lucky enough to take road trips, stop at forts and other fur trade places of interest. Keep your enthusiasm and interest high. A good attitude, enthusiasm, and a sense of fun is contagious and will go a long way in keeping young people interested. Don’t talk down to the youngsters, but attempt to educate them and engender the ideas of adventure, fun, friendship, and camaraderie that is important to the enjoyment of Buckskinning. Don’t forget, the bottom line for keeping young people interested is the idea of enjoyment through learning and doing.
See you on the trail.
See you folks next issue
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