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Thread: The future of retriever clubs

  1. #1
    Member Sugarwoods's Avatar
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    Default The future of retriever clubs

    It seems to me that, at least in the Northeast, many retriever clubs struggle with the same dilemma: How do we attract and retain new members?

    I belong to three NE dog clubs and all of them are facing this issue. We have a core group of workers and organizers that put in a huge amount of hours and effort to put on great events. At times, new people come in, but they rarely stay for long. As a result we face cutting back on the number of events we host. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect things to change.

    So I am asking myself "What are we doing wrong?" "What can we do differently?" "What do newcomers to the sport need to get hooked and hang around?" etc.

    I am hoping that there are clubs out there that have come up with some fresh approaches to attracting and retaining new members that can share them with us. I am also looking for those of you that are newer to to the sport to tell me what a great club would provide for you, the member?

    I have been involved in dog training all my life and with retrievers since 1996. My husband and I drag our kids to events all over New England, but we are the exception not the norm. What can our clubs do to survive among the competing priorities of everyday life?

    Hoping for some great discussion!

    Terry
    Terry Johansson
    Just in Case Retrievers

  2. #2

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    Terry,
    A few years back ,at a trial , a few of us were discussing the same issues.Most of our club members are getting older and can't do what they once could . A few newer members had joined but between young families and job issues ,they couldn't fill the void.So what we came up with was that Shoreline Ret. Club and Colonial Ret. Field Trial Club joined in a cooperative work agreement.As a member of either club , If you enter the other clubs events , you may be asked to work the event. It added to the work force of both clubs and we made a few good friends along the way.
    This may be only a stop gap measure and not solve the problem but it makes putting on the Field Trials a little easier.
    Bob

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Your last sentence really gives you the answer. There is nothing you can do. Every club / organization. / etc that I am involved in has this problem. Life is different today than 10-20 and everyone's time is limited, no matter the type of club.

    It also is hard for newcomers as the old timers do not always want to give up the power, or even be open to mew ideas. I am not sure how many times I have heard tradition as a reason why a suggestion would not work. You hear enough of that and it does not take much to say forget it

  4. #4
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    I was very optimistic at the beginning of this season as we had 5 new members. Over the summer we hardly saw any of them, come test weekend only one showed up for a short time. Now that the weather is cold and miserible (no more golf and boating) these guys want to come out and train. I am old and tired after a long season but we still make every effort to accomodate them. They just don't have the heart for the long hours it takes to train a dog, other things take priority and maybe rightly so. We will continue to make new people welcome and help the best we can and maybe the bug will take hold.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    Default

    IMO if there is one thing that the old guard has done poorly it has failed to mentor and nurture future talent and resources into the game..Yes the old guard is reluctant to relinquish power, but that same dynamic was present back in 70's...As for the "young guns" of the retriever world, many are flash in the pan, one trick ponies, who seem to hit the sport, get what they want out of it but give very little back to it

    many of the old guard has made a lifetime commitment to the sport, and continue to serve the sport well, if there was one resource that many clubs fail to tap is the knowledge and savvy of those that no longer actively campaign a dog...There are quite a few "old timers" that have a wealth of knowledge and experience but because they no longer actively train and campaign on the circuit are forgotten and often overlooked, but that may also be similar to how we as a society treat our senior citizens and cast them aside when we seem to have no further use for them

    just my .02
    All my Exes live in Texas

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  6. #6

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    Thats my issue. I have 2 kids in sports with games on saturdays. We have practice 4 days a week after school between the 2 of them from after school until 7:30. I take 2 dogs with me a train while I wait but saturday training days are out. I can get to some tests but I do NAVHDA and pointing dog hunt tests and have training days for those that I usually miss and I am starting rally. Did I mention that most of the foot ball games are travel games and in a rural county its up to 2 hour drive one way.....
    Laurie Thompson
    BriarField Kennels, Dunlap TN

    Miss Mabel Marshdog CGC, TDI certified, canine blood donor (Lab)
    Kerrybrooks That's A Fact Jack JH (Lab)
    Int'l Ch Snips Tennessee Jed SH, NAVHDA NA pz 1(GSP)
    CH Briarfields Autumn Connection JH, NAVHDA NA Ps 2(GSP)

  7. #7

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    The most useful thing clubs could do would be to have training days that might be on Sunday afternoon. But in this bible belt south I am sure that would be trouble for some.
    Laurie Thompson
    BriarField Kennels, Dunlap TN

    Miss Mabel Marshdog CGC, TDI certified, canine blood donor (Lab)
    Kerrybrooks That's A Fact Jack JH (Lab)
    Int'l Ch Snips Tennessee Jed SH, NAVHDA NA pz 1(GSP)
    CH Briarfields Autumn Connection JH, NAVHDA NA Ps 2(GSP)

  8. #8
    Senior Member JoeOverby's Avatar
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    Default

    There are a myriad of reasons the "young-uns" dont give as much as some of the "older" members and I won't sit here and make excuses for any of them. However, I will say that to truly be involved in this sport it takes more than just attending an event or two or joining a club. It is a lifestyle that we live. Many of my friends my age have young families, meager financial resources, and other "prioroties" in their lives. Our HRC club is comprised primarily of "young" board members and volunteers. Matter of fact, there are only 3 on the board over 40...our Prez, VP, SEC, Treasurer, and every single committee head is 35 or under. I hear every excuse under the sun at every single event we have as to why people cannot be in attendance. IMO, it is poor time management and poor prioritization...until I look at it from their shoes...that said, how do we attract and retain new blood? I don't know that its one thing in particular. Our club is comprised mainly of "our" training group. A bunch of like minded individuals doing what we love, sharing our time, talents, and other resources simply because we need each-others help, like one-another, and want to. Try putting some "younger" members in decision making roles. LISTEN to their thoughts and ideas. Believe it or not, we actually have some good ones from time to time. You want to attract and retain new members?? Easy, give them a reason to come and stay a while...give them a job....but don't boss them around. Make them an IMPORTANT part of the club's success and recognize them for their hard-work. IMO it's that simple...but then what the hell do I know...I'm one of these crazy retriever game fanatics....i just happen to be under 35.
    Joe Overby
    Candler Creek Retrievers
    www.candlercreekretrievers.com
    GRHRCH UH "Hooch" MH (HRC 1500 pt. club)
    HRCH "Tater" MH

  9. #9
    Senior Member blackasmollases's Avatar
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    I could not agree more with some of the last posts. Fear not the want is still out there. I wish I would of got involved long before being 37. But it is out there. Against my better judgement I'm gonna say it on here "being there are some club members that are also on here". Training days are great but don't send me an email the day before that its been moved or changed to the next day and excpect me to show up. I've spent not all but most of my last 6 mos.either working sleeping or working with my pup, or researching on what I can do to make him better. He has been gone since september for some training which I didn't feel I could do right at this point in time. But I tell you one thing when I get him back in a couple weeks we aren't gonna stop because its cold outside. I'll take the lead were the trainer left of and we will run with it all winter, granted it will probably be limited to weekends and for the most part no water "as it gets kinda hard around here in the winter". But I will still go out and set up marks for the little guy even if I gotta plow snow off the ground first. So for 1 second don't think the desire is not there, just don't suck it out of it. This is supposed to be enjoyable right?
    Last edited by blackasmollases; 10-30-2012 at 08:11 PM.
    Black as mollases, call name Strap

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Mike W.'s Avatar
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    Default

    The reality is to be truly competitive in the sport you have to have a lot of time and the financial resources to play. Those two items are generally in short supply for most who are younger with families. When I say younger, I mean people with kids in high school or below. If those kids have any activities at all, field trialing is a tough line to tow.

    The facts are the sport lends itself to somewhat older people, who have the ability to train regularly and leave their homes for 10-20 weekends a year. Nothing wrong with it, just the way it is.

    My view is there will always be people coming up who are really into dogs, who also want to compete at a higher level than HT's. They will eventually migrate to FTs in the course of their dog careers.

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