Notwithstanding reports that hiking and outdoor adventure has become fashionable for millennials, bushwalking clubs continue to seek ways to attract younger people. An experienced young bushwalker keen to help clubs address this issue is National Parks Association of the ACT Committee Member Stef De Montis – age 32. Stef bush camps regularly in Australia’s high country and is also a keen runner, cyclist, skier and photographer.
Stef is interviewed in the June 2021 NPA Bulletin. He is passionate about helping clubs to attract younger members and believes this is needed to provide future club leaders and members. He highlights the importance of attracting young people to clubs to gain valuable life skills and an awareness of the importance of environmental protection.
Stef feels that many young people may be missing a sense of community in our modern world and that building friendships in a group setting will enhance young people’s ability to maintain their commitment to important causes.
To attract younger people Stef suggests that clubs hold social events aimed at, and run by, younger people. Clubs can also harness the skills of experienced members by promoting informal mentorship programs to make young people feel welcome and develop their skills. He also believes that initiatives such as photography competitions and maintaining a strong online presence are ways clubs can encourage young people to get involved.
If you would like to read further, Bushwalking NSW has previously discussed similar ideas for clubs to consider, such as:
- Consideration of the current average age of club members and if there is a need to appeal to a younger demographic
- Identifying the potential reasons young people are not engaging with clubs
- Identifying the skills and benefits clubs can provide to young people and the best way they can be be made aware of them
- How to harness and pass on the skills of experienced members, for example, through mentoring opportunities
- Consideration of how walks can be scheduled around young people’s work and or study commitments
- Available opportunities to partner with local training organisations
What is the current demographic of your club and how successful have you been in attracting younger members? Let us know your experience and views – we would love to hear from you! – feel free to email Justine Bourke at firstname.lastname@example.org