Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I have heard through the grapevine that many Civil War reenactment groups are having trouble recruiting new members. I have rather written off thier complaints as aging groups having trouble attracting a younger croud, but Das Geld Fahnlein is not growing like it needs to. And now I'm getting worried.
Our initial recruitment was a group of five friends getting together and talking about the fact that we still wanted to participte in the Renaissance Faire, but we were much more interested in the history than the entertainment, and wouldn't it be fun to start our own group? Once the planning was underway we notified all our friends, and asked the faire to put the word out along thier communication channels. Our first year group was just fantastic. Everyone was enthousiastic, fun, more than a little quirky and our first year was a rousing success. Last year most of the recruitment that happened were friends of friends. A current member would convice a friend to come to a workshop and they'd be hooked.
This year, we have not had as much luck with friends of friends, and although we have had some interested folks we've met at events or who have found our web page, none of them have stuck around for more than a single workshop. Now I'm wondering if we're too intimidating? Everyone says we look so good that they will have to wait to join us until they are up to our standards. But really, we're a relatively new group, and would rather loan people the gear they need, and steer them towards the best research materials, and have them join in as soon as possible and not three years from now.
Is it the economy? This is definitely not a cheap hobby. A few of my friends have asked how much it costs to make an outfit in order to join and the answer is around $300 if you shop around and do a lot of it yourself, but not much cheaper unless you are an incredible bargain hunter.
Do we need to do market research? Should we poll all the folks we know to see why they are not rushing to join the guild? Stephen and I ask all the LH folks we know about recruitment and we're getting the picture that maybe it is just a slow sort of thing. Maybe there are not more reenactors because it really is a very small proportion of the population that is interested in taking part.
We have so much fun though, I am hoping we can get more people to join so I have more cool friends to hang out with.