The Advantage of Youth Involvement

David Schultz isn’t kidding around when he says that youth need to be more involved in the collector car hobby. Schultz, head of the public relations and nomination committees for the Classic Car Club of America, said the CCCA is considering ways to accomplish that.

“We’re taking a serious look at the future and the important role that the next generation will play in sustaining that future,” Schultz said. “While we don’t have a structured youth program at the moment, we are absolutely considering implementing youth initiatives.”

Schultz said some CCCA regions have already taken steps to make that happen. The 2007 CCCA CARavan, hosted by the CCCA’s Indiana Region, for example, focused on youth.

“It has taken time,” Schultz admitted. “Some CCCA members just want to go out and enjoy their cars. Then the light bulb goes off and they realize, ‘Who’s going to enjoy these cars – or buy them – when I’m gone?’ ”

Schultz said the CCCA Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to offer McPherson College restoration students an opportunity to participate in the 2010 CCCA CARavan free of charge. Students there are restoring their own classic automobile, which will be driven on the CARavan by two members of the restoration team.

“That’s just one step in trying to create an enthusiasm for cars with young people,” Schultz said.

Barbara Anna Kefalonitis, director of the CCCA Metro Region, knows the value of youth involvement. As a teacher in the public school system for 35 years, she saw how easy it is to capture kids’ attention.

“It seems that no matter the program, kids are always willing to learn,” Kefalonitis said. “It is my belief that we must preserve the history of the classic era and the classic cars of their time. We must immortalize the memory of our classic era and advocate preservation for our future generation.”

While Kefalonitis and her husband, John, have personally carried the torch of preservation – they’ve owned a wide variety of cars, from T-Birds to Packards – it’s youth involvement that gets their motors running.

“This year our region is having a Grand Classic, and one of our members, Henry Uiga, has offered to put together a youth program,” Kefalonitis said. “We have one child who is a very enthusiastic classic car person. I know she will be very helpful to Henry, along with other members’ children and grandchildren. Our hobby can only be preserved by the youth of today.”

Schultz has also reached out to youth in his role as executive director of the Glenmoor Gathering. Last summer, thanks to the help of the non-profit Collectors Foundation, Schultz offered an internship to McPherson College student Tabetha Salsbury, who assisted in planning and hosting the Glenmoor Gathering.

“It was a special privilege to work with Tabetha,” Schultz said. “She’s not just another gear head; she is very interested in the history of cars. We had many enjoyable conversations.”

When Salsbury’s internship was complete, Schultz gave her a complementary membership in the CCCA.

“I’m personally very interested in youth involvement, and I think there are many members of the CCCA who feel the same,” Schultz said.

Why is youth involvement in the hobby so dear to Schultz’s heart?

“Because someone tolerated me and let me ask a lot of questions when I was a kid,” he said. “Growing up in Michigan, I can remember going to Greenfield Village (historical museum) in the 1950s, and I’ve never forgotten that. That’s when I had my epiphany. So if someone is genuinely interested, I’ll spend as much time talking about cars as they like.”