Saturday, August 26, 2006
I'm sitting here when I should be getting ready to leave for Lake George. It's a gray, cold morning and I am stuck without words. I feel like no one cares and no one is willing to step up to the plate to do anything but talk, talk, talk and talk is cheap when there is another issue of the ham radio club newsletter to get out. I have the usual content: club and board meeting minutes, the president's column and a couple of little pieces about club activities, but no real meat and no words for columns. At a board meeting I told the members the club was nothing but a social club and one board member, nearly in tears, said it was because some older members took the people with them when they left. My unasked question, because he was clearly on the edge of breaking down, is what made them leave?
The club has initiated some fun activities for the members, but the same people keep winning all the time because the same people keep showing up. Fun activities and prizes are nice and they get their picture in the newsletter but that's not what this should be about. No, I don't have a problem with people socializing. Yes, I do have a problem with a club that is nothing but socializing and doesn't do anything to bring in new members or go out and do something in the community to familiarize people with ham radio and get them excited about the possibilities. The board members talk a good line but that's all they do -- talk.
I see so much potential and so little activity. Granted, many of the members are older and getting older as I write this, and so many members, the really active ones, have died. It isn't as if there aren't lots of younger, virile and active ham radio operators out there but they're either focusing on their own projects and unwilling to get involved or simply do nothing at all outside their own small circle of ham radio friends. These people gravitate to online groups and share their knowledge and experience among people who appreciate their input but it's like preaching to the choir. Those people are already convinced and involved in ham radio.
I am new to all of this and I have had little help from experienced hams, not because I don't ask (you know me better than that) but because they don't have the time or the interest to help me out. If this is the level of after the sale support other new hams have received, it's no wonder they either give up and let their licenses expire or go somewhere else for help. I wonder if that's the case with this club. Is that why the members left, because the spark and support left?
I do not understand why people are so unwilling to share their experience and knowledge with others, even when asked, and why they are so unwilling to extend themselves to letting people in on the fun, the excitement and the possibilities of what they love the most. It doesn't make sense to keep your light under cover when other people need to see, too.
I have asked for help from one of ham radio yahoo groups. I asked for pictures and a little email time for questions and answers so I'll have something new to offer the club members in the next issue of the newsletter. Since no one else has stepped up to the plate and offered articles or jokes or news items, I'll write them all myself -- as if I have a choice -- in hopes that someone will see the possibilities. I doubt I will be able to motivate the entrenched and calcified members but I have to believe someone I interview will read what I've written and offer some help. Who knows? Maybe someone sitting in the shadows hiding their light from the rest of us will decide to open up and share the light and the warmth. I can only hope.