A year ago, I volunteered to serve as the president of the Cascades Amateur Radio Society (CARS). I’ve been a ham about 11 years, but it’s not really my primary hobby or technological love (I’m still a Technician Class operator). But I’ve VERY much been taken by the community and the history of the radio service and engage in it whenever time allows. Obviously being the club president and a volunteer net control operator takes some time, but it’s clearly been worth it. What I couldn’t have known when I volunteered, was what 2020 would bring.
I was unable to attend my first meeting as president due to business travel and asked my club vice-president and secretary to fill in. The pandemic ensured there wouldn’t be any more in-person, for the remainder of the year. The club adapted quickly and we attempted to make the next meeting a hybrid of online and on-the-air, using the BlueJeans conferencing application and the club 146.88 repeater. It was quickly determined that going strictly online would be better, as the echoing of repeater audio through the conferencing system proved to be unmanageable. After that, my intrepid club vice-president ensured that we have a continuous stream of interesting presentations (doing some of them himself) and plenty of participation by the club members themselves.
What none of us saw coming was the level of activity inspired (at least in part) by the pandemic. The club repeater has been busier than it has been in many years. There are a number of new, younger operators entering the service, many of them bringing their fresh perspective and energy. One of them, AD8GN even helped migrate our website to a WordPress format, which allows it to be a bit more agile and give more of us input. While the pandemic has been terrible for so many around the world, it seems to highlight the value of our form of communication and the community surrounding it.
In conclusion, I’ll offer a welcome to the newcomers, my admiration to the old-hands who’ve adapted to the realities of today and my thanks to the dedicated volunteers that help make our club work. If you’re a new ham, or you’d like to become an amateur radio operator, please reach out. Volunteer examiners have figured out how to do licensing exams online, and many of our long-time members are happy to help show the way. There’s never been a better time to get into amateur radio.