Social club memberships declining - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Social club memberships declining

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Eagles, the Lions, the Moose, the Elks were all, at one time, thriving social clubs. These days, some people aren't even aware the clubs exist.

Members of a lot of social clubs are no longer the younger, hipper crows. For many, the average age is somewhere between 50 and 70-year-old.

"A lot of the decline, our older memberships, they pass away and we don't replace them quickly enough," said Don Creighton of the Elks.

Memberships have been on the down slope across the country since the early 1980's. The Elks had a peak membership of over 1.5 million people, now there are less than 100,000.

When Creighton joined the Elks, the local membership was upwards of 800 people. Now there are only about 250.

"As our numbers shrink, the few of us that do the volunteer work and sustain the lodge, have to work a little harder and I hope there's always a supply of people to do that, otherwise it'll be difficult to sustain our activities," said Creighton.

"The things we do, world-wide, in the country and even in the community," said Kay Metz of the Lions Club. "If these all went away, it'd be a pretty sad world out there."

While these social clubs may be reminiscent of cheap drinks, dance halls and secret meetings, each of them has their own niche in bettering society.

"We do our part to keep it going," said Creighton. "But the truth is, there's only a certain percentage of our membership that is actively involved."

While social club memberships are steadily declining here and most everywhere else, the Elks Clubs in Seattle and Ballard have flourished in the last year. Those clubs have updated facilities with everything from golf courses to gyms.