Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Report from the youth sessions of RootsTech

So of course we had to try out the youth sessions on Saturday for RootsTech.  I was really glad I had already scheduled my kids to be there on Saturday for the youth sessions because I had to press them into child labor at the booth in the morning.  We were so busy passing out fill-in-the-blank charts that we needed their help. It was wonderful to have them around to help with all the youth we saw at the conference on Saturday, and then luckily the bulk of the classes started at at 3 in the afternoon, so by then they were able to go and I was able to go to the later classes with them. 

The kids went to the 3:00 session by themselves and here's what they reported:  They said it was about "how to get involved"  They liked the videos (this is the youtube generation--descended from the tv generation.  We all perk up when there are videos involved.)  They liked that it wasn't one person talking the whole time.  It impressed them when youth talked about how satisfying family history was--that it wasn't just the parents talking about it. 

My middle son wanted them to get beyond the "why it is interesting" to how to do it.  I thought that was really informative.  I think he is getting a little beyond the "I'm interested" stage and he is looking for better skills.  But he wouldn't be interested in a real class with me at a regular conference.  That still seems like the adults talking too much.  So I need to figure out where I can get him a little higher level training without him feeling like he is "becoming a genealogist." (watch out for that awful word with teenagers.)  He said he wanted a class where they "teach you how to search for ancestors" but I know he wouldn't have wanted to go to any of the three days of classes there had just been at the conference.  So--I have another nut to crack.  How do I get my teenagers to feel welcome and involved in a real "how to do it" class at a genealogy conference?  Is it just because there are only adults there?

When I came in just after 4pm to the panel discussion facilitated by my friend Devin Ashby, I was thrilled to find my kids listening to other kids.  YEA!  They need to hear from other youth not just from the adults.  That seemed to really resonate with them.  One of the kids on the panel had been to the same school my kids attend.  Score!  They liked seeing what other kids had done to get involved.  They liked that the facilitator didn't make it "all serious" (Thanks Devin!) 

It was fantastic for me to walk in to that 4pm class and find thousands of youth in the auditorium.  Fantastic.  Just think what great genealogists they will be when they are our age.  They are going to completely outstrip the efforts of this generation.  I can't wait. 

Next post--Elaine Dalton's Saturday evening presentation. 


  1. I was 15 years old when I took my first genealogy class taught as a Sunday School lesson at church. I never felt weird learning how to do genealogy right along side of the older people. I don't think you need to teach the youth any different once they catch the bug and want to learn more.

    1. Renee,
      I think you were an exceptional youth. :) You are right, once they catch the bug they will figure out a way. I think my son is starting to catch the bug. I'm going to see if he'll come with me to some classes at the UGA conference. We'll see if he follows in your footsteps.