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Thread: Maybe This is the Uptick?

  1. #31
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    Jul 2006
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    That takes too long. Spring for a keg and get them housed--the honesty that ensues will tell you all you need to know!

    Ivan Ingraham

  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shermans_Neckties View Post
    Concur. Tastes for something different are out there and the mainstream hobby is not fulfilling the desires of some types of folks. I think we'll see more people moving steadily away from the group-oriented side of the hobby to one that places more emphasis on, as you termed it, an individualistic style...Will this sort of individualistic stuff catch on? Don't know, but if activities are any indication, I'd say yes, to a certain degree. People ski, skate, ride bikes, take hikes, climb mountains, go boating, all stuff that can be done as either part of a larger event or by yourself or with just a small group of friends. Reenacting should be no different. Perhaps the solo and micro-event reenactors are just now emerging in enough numbers to start to be noticed.
    Last year, I dressed as my ancestor, Hiram Purcell, is depicted in "Rescuing the Colors" for the Fair Oaks/Seven Pines battle at "Lee Takes Command." Now, that was pretty easy to do since a simple 4-button and forage cap would suffice. We weren't portraying a Pennsylvania unit, nor did I rescue any colors, but it really created a very emotional experience for me. I almost had a running interior dialogue with myself that kept asking "Is this what it looked like, Hi?" "Does any of this look familiar?" This discussion of "personal commemoration" made me think that perhaps that wasn't such a crazy experience after all.
    The discussion of recruiting and attracting always reminds me of discussions about church growth, recruiting and attracting. The questions are the same: how do you get the word out? How to you keep your group friendly to visitors? How do you balance promotions with content? Printed material like flyers or business cards tend to have a .10% return rate. They're an unfocused promotion. As long as they're cheap and easy to do, do it. Just don't expect them to be the silver bullet of recruitment. Some sort of simple web presence is a must: cover page, contact information, current photos and brief explanation of the unit standards. Not so much that you overwhelm the visitor, but enough that he or she can decide if there's a a potential fit. But just being on Facebook isn't the ticket either. How many times have you heard a potential recruit say "You know, I've been thinking about doing this for a while and..." I'm guessing that the next generation of recruits will be older (in their 30s), have thought about reenacting for a long time or reenacted as a youngster, and will have thought about reenacting for about 10 years before contacting someone about taking the plunge.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  3. #33

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    You've got to get out there. There is a scout camp somewhere near all of us with fresh young boys who haven't had the love of History beaten out of them yet, some of whom are just about to finish their Trail to Eagle, and are looking for something new. Every summer, all summer, a new crop of young minds each week are open to us. The first time I'd heard of reenacting was at a scout camp. What fifteen year old doesn't want the chance to go to a different state to see the sights and history? A chance to travel somewhere new without teachers making you do homework, and getting to actually see the things you read about in school? Or a chance to learn beyond the state-mandated curriculum?

    New recruits are out there, we just need to find the time to go get them, and the patience to explain why they don't want to wear a cavalry musician's jacket on the line, and why a thousand-dollar Enfield they have to save a year for is better than that 80 dollar hawken over at the pawn shop.
    Eugene Yeo
    "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues." - Dr. Seuss, "The Lorax"

  4. #34
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose Bierce View Post
    That takes too long. Spring for a keg and get them (hosed)--the honesty that ensues will tell you all you need to know!

    Ivan Ingraham
    Yeah, great idea! Talk people into the hobby by getting them liquored up first! Truth serum of the gods! Woo-hoo! Lord, where do find such men?!

    Phil Lundie
    Purveyor of fine iron apparel for tree trunks.

    I shall move from Chattanooga when the Lieutenant-General orders me; ready or not ready. And if you don't have my army supplied, and keep it supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir. General William Tecumseh Sherman to the Quartermaster in Nashville. 1864

  5. #35
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Baltimore, MD
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    Cards, flyers, Facebook, YouToob, newspaper/magazine adds.... all low returns, IMO.

    Face-to-face is where it happens. But the hobby seems a lot like Freemasonry: "2 B 1 Ask 1".

    Some people never ask because some reenactors are a bit intimidating or are obvious dullards.

    "Ya'll got any questions?"

    "Uh... no, not really. Well, maybe one. Aren't you hot in that?"

    "Yes, but you get used to it... wool breaths and insulates... I've got a cool layer of sweat underneath... notice I'm not sweating..." blah, blah. The technical answer will get you nowhere.

    I rarely here the comeback: "You should try it and find out."

    Well, that may sound a bit arrogant, but it is a way to lead into the ultimate make-or-break question:

    "How much does all this cost?"

    Younger guys since October 2008 invariably turn pale at that answer.

    Older guys with good-paying steady jobs will say, "Hmmmm.... interesting."

    From that point, play it by ear.
    Phil Lundie
    Purveyor of fine iron apparel for tree trunks.

    I shall move from Chattanooga when the Lieutenant-General orders me; ready or not ready. And if you don't have my army supplied, and keep it supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir. General William Tecumseh Sherman to the Quartermaster in Nashville. 1864

  6. #36
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    Jul 2006
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    13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shermans_Neckties View Post
    Yeah, great idea! Talk people into the hobby by getting them liquored up first! Truth serum of the gods! Woo-hoo! Lord, where do find such men?!

    The question was about ascertaining personalities for "best fit" in a unit, not getting them into the hobby. Your picture is humorous, and the liquor should be introduced AFTER they are in the unit!

    I have been at this for a while and the ebb and flow of participants is not new. However, the number attained during the 125th anniversary will likely not be seen again. Many of the reasons posited thus far I agree with, but the biggest for me is that most younger people don't have an interest in this hobby because they don't read about things and feel something on a level where they want to experience it first-hand.

    This is not true of all young people, certainly, but many of them would rather watch it online or play a game to get "the feeling" of the event than immerse themselves in it. While participating at Gettysburg NMHP a few weeks ago, not one spectator asked how to get into what we were doing despite their interest in the period or that particular battle.

    I agree with you, Phil, in that Reenactors can be gruff and standoffish, but that stems from the rise of the mess-system of reenacting where small groups have largely become closed societies and this discourages recruiting. Hard to grow a hobby when recruits aren't sought.

  7. #37
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    May 2007
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    Baltimore, MD
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    I agree with you, Phil, in that Reenactors can be gruff and standoffish, but that stems from the rise of the mess-system of reenacting where small groups have largely become closed societies and this discourages recruiting. Hard to grow a hobby when recruits aren't sought.
    I disagree. Back in the '80s, long before small messes became commonplace, one high profile unit in the East had a reputation for snobbish, standoffish, and elitist behavior that made prospective recruits feel like dirt just for asking how to get in the hobby. Oddly, they still exist today, but are now super friendly to prospective members, but once in the unit the snobbish behavior toward new members begins in earnest. They are now in rapid decline and I predict will be kaput at the end of the 150th cycle. Good riddance.

    In my experience, messes are only gruff and standoffish toward those already in the hobby who are obvious farbs and buffoons unwilling to step up their game, not toward the general public. Far from it. I've seen large groups huddle around their campfires or lounge in their camp chairs under their tent flies while 'tators wander through and never engage with the public, almost like they are museum pieces on display and can't speak. Maybe they are doing first person? No, they are just dullards who can't communicate.

    On the other hand I've had four guys out of a mess stop what they are doing and actually TALK to people like gentlemen. That is why I belong to a mess, not to a company-sized organization. The larger groups at events remind me of flies buzzing a cow paddy - totally oblivious of their surroundings, intent on the manure in front of them, ignoring everything else.

    Organizationally, the mess is less prone to tyranny. It is too small an entity for one egotist to force his will on the few members. The larger the group, the higher risk of them becoming sheep who will follow wherever a single dominate farb with the bucks to buy an officer's uniform leads them.
    Phil Lundie
    Purveyor of fine iron apparel for tree trunks.

    I shall move from Chattanooga when the Lieutenant-General orders me; ready or not ready. And if you don't have my army supplied, and keep it supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir. General William Tecumseh Sherman to the Quartermaster in Nashville. 1864

  8. #38
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    Feb 2006
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    Wheaton, IL
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    Quote Originally Posted by welshman15 View Post
    The 49th Indiana has grown steadily in numbers since 2006 when I joined. Back then if we had 10 soldiers at an event that was considered a good turnout. At GB GAC we had 30 registered, and that did not include a few that only attended the BGA event instead. I put this growth down to simple marketing - at every event we have a booth with materials and someone to interact with the public and answer questions. I see many units that don't seem very interested with interacting with the public (not unfriendly, of course, just content to huddle around the campfire and wait for a spectator to approach them). I think in general the hobby does a poor job of selling itself.
    Scott: what was the NET gain to the hobby? You went from 2006 10 attendees, to 2013 30 attendees....how many were from other units?

    All too often this is a zero sum game, where one unit's numbers come at the demise\expense of another unit's numbers.
    RJ Samp
    Horniste! Blas das Signal zum Angriffe!
    "But in the end, it's the history, stupid. If you can't document it, forget about it. And no amount of 'tomfoolery' can explain away conduct that in the end makes history (and living historians) look stupid and wrong. "

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJSamp View Post
    Scott: what was the NET gain to the hobby? You went from 2006 10 attendees, to 2013 30 attendees....how many were from other units?

    All too often this is a zero sum game, where one unit's numbers come at the demise\expense of another unit's numbers.
    I don't know any of the people or units involved specifically, so can't comment on that, but just wanted to point out in general that it's not necessarily a zero sum game when new members come from another unit.

    If a member is at the point of thinking "This is frustrating and boring and I'm dropping out of the hobby if I can't find something better," then being recruited away to a unit that meets his needs better may not add a member to the hobby, but it would save the hobby from losing a member.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@gmail.com

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Indianapolis
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    RJ,

    By and large the new members are also new to the hobby. We don't have a great deal of transfers.

    Scott
    Scott Lawalin
    Pvt., 49th Indiana

    "You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; [then] beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." - General Sir James Napier

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