To all Eastern Massachusetts amateur radio enthusiasts:
You probably know that we’ve been introducing amateur radio to thousands of scouts every year during their visits to the USS Salem. This program is currently at a turning point, and you can help us decide its future.
Over the years, the program has been held together primarily by a small, core group of volunteers that keep coming back to work with the scouts week after week. This core group constantly changes over time. As volunteers become unavailable, for instance because they move away or change jobs, we’ve always been lucky that new volunteers show up to take their place.
Unfortunately, I have recently lost 3 core volunteers, and 2 others have commitments that force them to cut back on their participation. As a result we will not be able to continue this project unless some new people get involved.
So I ask you: Do you think the world is a better place because many thousands of scouts have learned about amateur radio due to our efforts over the past few years? Is this program worth continuing?
And I also ask you: Is this program important enough that you, personally, are willing to become involved?
The work is demanding, but also highly rewarding. I usually leave the ship feeling exhausted, but happy, energized, and looking forward to coming back the following week.
One part of the program involves giving 30-minute presentations on amateur radio to 6 different groups of kids. This can be quite demanding, as you have to vary your presentation to fit each group. The kids vary in age from 6 to 22. Groups vary in size from 10 to 30 kids, plus their accompanying adults. Some groups are boys, others are girls. Some groups are quiet, some are talkative, and some are just plain rowdy. Some groups are disinterested, some are enthralled. By the time you finish giving the presentation 6 times in 3 hours, working to keep them interested and get them excited, you are exhausted. Yet still, somehow, you are looking forward to coming back next weekend to do it all over again!
The other part of the program involves giving “hands on” demos to 6 groups of kids, either on HF or 2M/IRLP. You exercise your technical understanding of radio, your operating skills, your knowledge of the regulations (bands, identification, third party, etc.), plus your skill at working with kids — all at the same time! You have to know how to encourage mike-shy kids to talk on the air, know when to back off and let them just listen, have a repertoire of questions to suggest to the kids for asking over the air, monitor every word that is said on the air, and remember to give your call sign at least once in every 10 minutes. It’s challenging, it’s exhausting, and it’s every bit as much fun as Field Day!
All that having been said, you do not need any specific skills or experience to participate. We will show you the ropes! We encourage you to watch a “pro” for a while, and then jump in for some on-the-job training when you’re ready. For the presenters, I have a sample script that you can follow to whatever degree you wish, or you can develop your own presentation.
The program generally runs from 3pm till 6pm on most Saturday afternoons. While I do not require any long-term commitments, I do need to know a couple of days in advance who’s going to be there each weekend. I have to make sure that we have enough volunteers each week, or else we have to cancel, and the ship has to find other activities for the scouts that weekend.
Exhausting. Fun. Demanding. Energizing. Addictive. Does this sound good to you?
All activities are coordinated via email. I have a mailing list that I use to let people know what’s going on and to recruit volunteers each week. The list is low volume, typically 2-3 messages per week. The list is private, so you only get messages written or approved by me. You don’t see any useless replies to replies to replies. The email addresses on the list are private, so they cannot be farmed by spammers.
If you want to help, please send me an email. I will add you to my email list. Then when I send out a request for volunteers for a specific weekend, let me know that you are coming. I will make sure to have experienced volunteers there to help you get started.
There’s one other thing that you can do to help me. If you are a member of a club, please make sure that this message is seen by every member of your club! We need their help, too!
USS Salem K1USN Radio Club scouting program volunteer coordinator