QRZ Logbook

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What if you had a Field Day and didn't care if anyone attended?

Two of the last three Field Day's I have attended, one was operated under my callsign last year. The other two were at a club site I'm not a member of (don't want to give out their name) and I spent a grand total of one hour visiting, and both times I got to operate a grand total of zero minutes.

Part of the reason is that I didn't show up until close to midnight. Part of the reason being I watched my kids and the wife was working. Another that it was freaking HOT, as it usually is around this time of the year the last weekend of June.

The first of these 2 times was 3 years ago. I'd visited this site several times before. A friend of mine had a camper there and so when I would come he'd gladly take a break and let me operate. I'd stay until 3-4am operating (I'm a night owl) and would rack up many contacts/points for the club.

3 years ago, however, I showed up and either my friend closed up for the night or wasn't there at all. When I arrived, no one was around to talk to at this lakeside area, so I couldn't find out who was where. The campers that were there, I didn't want to just walk in as these were campers where people slept, and the lights were out on all of them. I felt like I was intruding and left. It took an hour to get there, and less than 15 minutes later, I was going back home.

Last year we operated from a campground and had a good time, but couldn't get the troops rallied for this year. I decided to give the previous place another try. Unfortunately I couldn't get there earlier than intended, and once again I arrived at midnight. This time, our friend's camper wasn't there, and no one there knew why. My friend and I did go in to one of the campers and PSK31 and 40m voice was in operation. But the stations didn't want to give up the radios to let others operate. Not even an offer of "come see how this works", just basically working the radios oblivious to our presence. We just stood there looking (and being) bored.

The other camper set up had the lights out...again, and the VHF (6m) station was shut off after the band died. The one station from Texas we heard abruptly yelled "YOU'RE A DUPE!!!!" when the operator made a call to him.

Once again I felt that, even though there were friendlier folks there this time around, we were in the way. I left after about 30 minutes, vowing never to return.

This club (among others) tend to forget Field Day is 24 hours, not just 10 hours active, 6 hours slow, and 8 hours active. Some people like myself can't be there until late, when you would think they would be desperate for operators. I operated one year from Oak Ridge and some of the best operating was from 2-6AM, and we got so punchy that stations were not sure if they were listening to Field Day ops, or a bunch of morning show DJs. But we kept it legal and clean...and fun. And the stations calling us were enjoying the show.

Unfortunately I don't know anyone at the Oak Ridge club anymore, and the club environment for me is a touchy subject as it is, and the only reason I went to the lake was because some friends were there, or at least they used to be.

I thought Field Day was supposed to be a welcoming committee and a public event, but several times over the years I didn't feel welcome. With people not knowing who I was (often a good thing) I was made to feel like an outsider.

Back in 1999, I oversaw a Field Day event for a club, and one thing I absolutely ensured was that anyone who showed up at any time was greeted, made to feel welcome, and that people were allowed to operate when it was possible, with no "hogging" of the radios. It was one of the most successful Field Days that club had experienced in years.

I wonder why no one else follows that plan of attack these days?