Help with club in rural area

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Clubs' started by NQ1B, Apr 14, 2017.

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  1. NQ1B

    NQ1B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello everyone,

    We have a local club known as Central Vermont Amateur Radio Club (CVARC). Although the club has existed for many years, we are coming out of a period when it was not very active, and working to build it up again. We've risen back to the level of about a dozen hams at each meeting, and we do Field Day every year.

    The big challenge for us is that central Vermont is very low population, and we're very spread out.. The entire state has about 625,000 people and less than 3,000 licensed hams, most of whom are not active. 160,000 of the 625,000 live in a single county in the northwest of the state, a full hour's drive away from us. (That county supports two healthy amateur radio clubs.) We are based in Washington County, which has only 60,000 people (though we do draw some members from adjacent counties.)

    Our club has a very wide range of experience and skill, ranging from recently-licensed Technicians to those with decades of experience. This is good for mentoring, but bad for trying to present material at a level that everyone finds interesting.

    I'd like to hear suggestions and success stories from those of you who have been members or officers of clubs in low-density, low-population rural areas, or small towns that are not bedroom communities of larger metro areas. Clearly, our region cannot support specialty clubs that focus on DX, contesting, VHF weak-signal operations, QRP, etc. Only a general-interest club can hope to survive. The problem, of course, is that there is no single area of interest that can keep everyone coming month after month.

    Much of the revival of interest in CVARC has been driven by good speakers and programs, but we can only keep that up so long. We are thinking about supporting remote speakers so that we can expand the pool of potential presenters beyond the local area.

    We would definitely like to hold more operating events beyond Field Day. So far we have not been able to find a location for a club station, which limits our potential for group on-the-air events, especially in New England winter.

    Thoughts and suggestions would be very welcome.

  2. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Since your members are spread out you might try running a couple of club nets each week on different bands will give them some activity between meetings and might keep their interest up.
  3. NQ1B

    NQ1B Ham Member QRZ Page

    While I think that's a good idea, we've had trouble getting people interesting in participating in our nets. We run a 160 meter net once a week and a 2-meter repeater net once a week on a different night. The 2-meter net often has only a couple of participants; between nets, the club repeater is nearly silent. Do you have suggestions on ways to get higher net attendance?
  4. OH2FFY

    OH2FFY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I also need some help.....


    gregW:) OH2FFY
  5. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This sounds a lot like Alaska. Ham activity up here is pretty well centered around the 75 meter Snipers Net on 3920 (around since the 1930s) and the Motley Group on 3933. We used to have an extensive repeater network in interior Alaska, but it's gradually deteriorated as anyone who knew how to keep the things up and running has died of old age.

    We do have a club station, which is located in the TVCC community college aero sciences building. and it's active in sporadic bursts.

    At any rate, our 75 meter nets have sort of held things together up here, and it might work for you down there.

  6. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    160 sounds like a blast....I'd keep that going as much as humanly possible, and perhaps expand it to 75/80 meters, since not everyone can do 160.

    Good news! 2 meter packet is experiencing a nation wide resurrection, and it's a lot of fun and USEFUL!

    "normal" 2 meter repeaters are very expensive and labor intensive to keep running...but anyone can toss up a 2 meter digipeater. I'd explore that too.
  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Additional notes: Check out my website In the middle somewhere is a link to Stone Mountain Hamfest. You can download my PPT of a presentation I gave there last November. (ignore the log in notificatiion, just do the download.) No password needed. This might give you an idea or two.

  8. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Participation can be difficult have been an officer and board member over the years in a general interest club with close to 300 members at one time and it seems like there are always a core group that does all the work there's always what I call the coffee and donuts crowd that comes out to the meeting and sits there and wants to be entertained along with complaining about the way things are run but don't expect them to contribute to the tasks at hand or much else for that matter guess in large part just human nature and no doubt may take place in other clubs not ham related. My take on it has always been if there is a lack of participation just cancel the activity field day for example not sufficient participants no field day.
  9. KF5THB

    KF5THB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sometimes the answer lies in what you consider a success. Don't be reluctant to call a small turn-out a raging success. Keep a positive attitude, above all else. K3XR is correct in his classic description of 10% of the total doing 90% of the work. That's to be expected and the only problem is when you don't have enough to have 10% equal 5 or more people. Some much for the obvious. Do you have a facebook page? Seems counterintuitive but FB can be what we call a "force multiplier." Use FB to provide the comms since you don't have the ham saturation necessary for full RF communications. (ie~Can't get the word around to everyone on 2 meter) Also, FB allows you to post after action reports with video, pics and also, (quite a neat trick) the survey. This gets you "discussion" and feedback. Activities: Get your core group to commit to a certain number of group events per year/quarter and then try to get different people in your core to take ownership of a specific event. Events provide the purpose as well as bonding opportunities around which your group can find connection. Finally, the point of the club is the social aspect. If your folks don't play nice together and coalesce as a group. then, well you have bigger problems. Sorry that this is more philisophical than "How to" but when you have a small pool of members from which you build. then you really need to pay attention to the organic nature. It's like growing a garden in poor soil. Good soil doesn't need much encouragement; stuff just happens. Poor soil; you have to make it happen. Best of Luck Brent KF5THB
    N7EKU likes this.
  10. KD8HD

    KD8HD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in a rural area also, Try doing things like a fox hunt. Team people up and make it where at the end of it get to together and the winners get their lunch or dinner paid for. Maybe try a split the pot with the proceeds going to a club project or to a charity. This can be done in the winter also since you really don't need to get out of the car other then to get a fix. Then you jump back in the car and get another fix. In nice weather have a club meeting in the afternoon in a park with a covered plate dinner. Hope these suggestions help. KD8HD

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