There are plenty of independent spirits among the young. They're just doing other things: writing code, making robots, getting creative with 3D printers, pushing back against "the man" on all sorts of issues. They're not flying anymore. It's a generational thing. To those of us of a certain age, flying is a miracle. To kids who know you can 3D print a human organ, who have iPad-controlled drones at home, and who flew to grandma's before they were old enough to remember it, flying is simply a fact of life, no more miraculous than the fact that sailboats move without engines. They get it; they're simply not impressed. It's not cutting edge, and independent young people are all about cutting edge.
And, honestly, being a pilot doesn't have the cachet it once did. Pilots were once white-scarf-wearing adventurers; now they're bus drivers. (Of course, in earlier times kids dreamed of being bus drivers too, and train engineers; times move on.)
Those of us who love flying need to realize that the glory days are probably gone. It need not mean the death of flying for the joy of it, any more than diesel engines have killed sailing for fun; but we need to refocus on the fun, on the joy. We need airplanes and flying organizations and places to fly that are all about fun, and community, and not so much about business jets and transactional commerce. Think yacht club, not ferry pier: they're very different experiences.
You're right: we need flying clubs. But it's not because there's anything wrong with the young people. (And, you know, young people do join sailing clubs - even though sailing isn't cutting edge at all!)