Over the past year it’s been mentioned several times that our club needs new ideas, new activities, maybe even a whole new focus. Participation in club activities is falling. But what should we do? We haven’t really been able to answer that. So I’ve started asking some questions, and here’s what I now know.
First, I’ve heard from several current and former members that they want less focus on Emcomm, and more focus on other on-air activities. While emcomm is an important aspect of the amateur radio service, I propose that we focus a little less on it, at least for a while. A second thing I’ve been told is that club members want to feel more personally involved in the club, through hands-on activities and “Get On The Air” events. Third, we need to get new hams involved in the club. We need to appeal to the newer hams, and show them the value of being part of the club.
As your club’s president, I decided that I need to take the initiative to try to solve these problems. Here’s my idea.
BCARC Goes Back To The Basics
Starting in January, I propose that we shift the Club’s focus to “the basics of ham radio”. We’ve had some classes and test sessions that have produced new hams, but most of them don’t seem to stick with us. That’s our fault. We were forgetting what it was like when we first got interested in the hobby and wanted to learn more.
I had several good Elmer’s that taught me a lot of things that helped me get on the air and discover new modes and activities. Without them, I likely never would have gotten licensed, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have stuck with it. Two of my friends in high school got licensed at the same time as me, but they didn’t have Elmer’s. Neither of them remained active in the hobby.
Do our new hams have Elmer’s? If not, why can’t the Club be their Elmer? Let’s help our new members learn things like how to operate on 2m and HF. Teach them what they need to get their station set up, and once they have a station, how to operate it. There’s a lot of knowledge among our current membership that needs to be shared with the newer hams.
This idea came to me while I was helping a friend study for their ham license. This friend knew very little about Ham Radio outside of what she’d seen on TV and in movies, but it looked fun and she wanted to learn more. That’s when she approached me and asked for help. Throughout the process of helping her study for the test, I remembered back to my early days and realized that the test is only the first obstacle on the journey to becoming a ham radio operator. Once I had my ticket, then what? How do I pick my first radio? How do I go about making that very first on-air contact? Who can help me when things go wrong? Who can I turn to when I have a “dumb question”? My Elmer’s. And that’s when I realized this plan for getting back to the basics. Let’s make our club “the friendly, helpful club” for new hams that are just starting out and need help.
I’ve put together a tentative plan for monthly meetings in 2019. In addition to those plans, I hope to hold regular VE Test Sessions throughout the year. My proposed topics are: radio programming, station setup, basic tools and test equipment, computer control, QSL’ing, learning to solder, RF connectors and cables, kit building, antenna building, Field Day (summer and winter), and whatever else YOU want to see covered.
Feel free to share any of your ideas and feedback with me. I want to make our club better for everyone!