TV24 at CP 277

TV24 at CP 277
Conrail TV-24 rolls east through rural Central New York in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How We Grow the Hobby

We hear and read a lot of concern about the state of the hobby, and there are loud opinions that it is shrinking.  'As people grow old and pass on, the hobby will disappear.'  'There's no youth in the hobby.'  

Well, I disagree.  I think the hobby has always been one that fits a retired lifestyle well, and so has drawn more older people than young for generations, but I also think there is a growing youth population that is interested, too.  The key?  Ask them to come along.  

We are fortunate in New Jersey to have a robust group of guys willing to host operating sessions, and several are open to new members on occasion.  Recently my sons approached Jerry Dziedzic and he graciously invited them to join in a regular session.   We began with supper, after which Rich Wisneski suggested we take a group photo.

It's such an awesome feeling to see the boys here: this is a group of good men, people I trust and admire, and that they were invited and that they fit in is simply a wonderful thing.  They were excited!

After supper we traveled to Jerry's where the session was ready to start.  Jerry assigned the boys with different operators to allow them the full experience and I am grateful for the patience and hospitality everyone displayed.  Does a new rookie slow things down?  Yes.  But when young people are willing and excited to learn and participate, we have a responsibility to work with them, and coach them along.  

Teddy was assigned to work the Maybrook turn, an L&HR wayfreight.  Here he is working the locomotive in the large zinc mine at Franklin, NJ, under guidance of Jerry as well as Tom Schmieder and Ralph Heiss.  

Meanwhile, Pete was working with Al Tillonson and Joe Relation on the NYS&W Hainsburg job, and having a blast:

Pete even got a chance to spend some time at Sparta Junction with the tower operator, Jim Schweitzer, and it's easy for Pete - he didn't even need to duck.

It is people that make the hobby great, and each of us as layout owners can do our part to include young people.  When their excitement grows, they can jump in - and all of this can build a foundation for the future of the hobby.  Thanks to everyone there, and especially Jerry for his hospitality.  The boys are going to remember this one for a long, long time!


  1. Indeed a great opportunity to continue "passing the baton" and bring in the next generation of modelers/operators! I agree, our hobby isn't dying. I feel that folks w/that perspective have a very limited view of our hobby's landscape. There are younger folks participating at many levels as I recently witnessed at the New England RPM in Spfld, MA. There were young modelers and workshop presenters. Kudos to Jerry D., for the cool invites to Teddy and Pete!!!

  2. My local club is about half 50+ years old and half teenagers and college aged folk, including me. It's great because of the variety of perspectives and experiences.