The Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club is a not-for-profit international organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. We provide education forums, publications and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill and professional growth of our members.
After our Winter Field Day event last month, I spent a little time thinking about our hobby. But more specifically, I thought about the social aspect of ham radio and our club.
At its core, ham radio is about communications. Yet, much of the time, ham radio is an activity that we do alone. We work our stations from the comfort of our own homes – maybe in a home office or the garage - often while the rest of the family is off doing other things. Many of us wear headsets, which further immerse us in the radio world, AND isolate us from the rest of the world. Let’s face it, ham radio can be a very solitary endeavor.
Yes, sometimes we have conversations with people in other parts of the country, and sometimes other parts of the world. But often we aren’t having a conversation, we’re just making a contact. We exchange call signs and signal reports, but there’s no discussion. No exchange of ideas. For many of us, our time on the air is often little more than testing our equipment, or testing the band conditions. How far can I reach today? Will I add another state, and get one closer to that Worked All States award? Will I work a new country? How will I do in this contest? There’s nothing wrong with these pursuits. I enjoy these aspects of the hobby too. But, while this is communications on a technical level, it isn’t very social.
So why do we do it? Why do we spend so much time alone, holed up in our shacks, chasing contacts and awards? Perhaps the point of these pursuits is so that we can tell others about them. It’s nice to get together with other hams to share our experiences and our accomplishments, to ask questions and learn, and I love that CVARC offers so many opportunities to do that.
CVARC is a large club, now at over 160 members, and we routinely have 50 or so members and guests attend our monthly meetings. Many come early to socialize. There’s always lively chatter during the break and, after the meeting, it sometimes takes a little push to get people out the door. Every monthly meeting feels like a reunion. “What have you been up to since last month?” Maybe you participated in a recent contest, or tried a new mode, or built an antenna, or acquired some new gear. Everyone, it seems, has something to share.
We also typically have about a dozen or so people attend the pre-meeting dinners. If you’re a new ham or new to CVARC, it’s a great way to get to know some of the club members, and perhaps get answers to any questions you might have. Communication is happening at CVARC. It’s nice to get out of the shack. We ARE a social club.
Winter Field Day this year was a little cold, and a little windy. Contacts were few, but everyone still seemed to be having fun. And isn’t that what it’s all about?