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Field Day

We just ended our club’s 2017 Field Day effort. Once again, we did a great job as a team. Our score seemed to be right in line with past years and we discovered some new talent. Greg Karlove built this amazing satellite set up and worked the skies with authority. Casey Diers served as our safety director, but really spent more time deeply studying the CW and SSB stations. I loved his eagerness to learn all that he can about ham radio. The weather was perfect. It threatened to rain Saturday night and we dug out our tarps and tied down the tents. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the threat of rain went away. Operators magically appeared to do their duties at the CW and SSB tents. Overnight, the SSB tent got a little quiet, but I had fun running on 40 meters with Jerry Weiss, former NSRC President. I hadn’t worked with Jerry in years…and interestingly, he was Prez of the club when I joined and he was the one who asked if I would mind running for president upon his retirement. Well, I had just become licensed and I had no idea what being president meant so I declined. I did serve as program director for 4 years, a position I greatly enjoyed. I loved seeking out speakers and programs that fed the issues that I was passionate about discovering. It was a great way to learn. Along the way, I was asked to be the Field Day chair. Again, I had no clue what to do, and I said yes! At first, I followed the template set by the older guard. For a couple of years, I never deviated from the basic model – radios in the Village Green gazebo and antennas in the trees…all in a line. Everything worked well, and I felt like a hero!

Well, times and locations changed. We left the Village Green when the Park district in Northbrook wanted close to $2000 for the overnight use of the park. It was a great public park and we hated to leave. Several of us embarked on a long search for new venues. We scoured the north shore. Finally, we found a place that seemed possible: Northcroft Park in Lake Forest. In the early days, we did not have enough people to do Field Day and so we partnered with the good folks at the MAC club. They provided necessary manpower, but we had differing philosophies about tactics and we ended our partnership. We slowly built our own team…and it has taken years to recruit the talent and hone our skills. Then one year, the Lake Forest Park District double booked us…and we got bounced. They offered us the Grove Cultural center, where we have been for the past eight years. It is a great place, but totally hidden from the public. In fact, this year when I couldn’t lock the doors to the building, I had to call the Lake Forest police for assistance. The cop told me that even the police weren’t sure where the place was! It was a total shift away from the Village Green…where we often ran into crowds of people who said, “Hey, I’m a ham…I should be out here with you guys (and gals).” We saw much more of the curious public at the Village Green than we have ever seen in the other parks.

Still, we focused on our operating and build up a solid team and have been a consistent and productive operation. We always ranked very high in the state and in the nation. When Randy Brothers came on board, he became the champion contester coach. He stressed valuable skills that have helped us see our scores soar. I continue to focus on logistics and securing the potential 2000 bonus points.

One of the ARRL bonus points asks us to invite elected officials. Well, I asked my Glenview Village President to stop by and to my surprise, he did. He showed up at 7:30 a.m. Sunday! He caught me stuffing pancakes into my face and just recovering from my overnight operating. I grabbed about 30 minutes of sleep and was still groggy. Still no coffee. He hit me with a zillion great questions, many of which I am still trying to figure how to answer: “Would ham radio work if we got hit with a Pulse bomb?” “How long would it take for you guys to get set up, if we did need you?” “Why do you do this?” “Who are all of these people?” “How many points do you think you will score?” On and on…it was fabulous. I had another elected gentleman from Glenview show up around 11:00 p.m. He was amazed. He loved seeing the satellite station work and attentively watched as Greg Karlove made several contacts right there. The whole idea caught his imagination and suddenly he got it. He understand what value ham radio could be to a nation and a community. So, from this point of view alone, Field Day was a success. If we can get a few public officials to at least top to think about what we do and how we could be of service, the next time one of those antenna covenant bills comes up, or they find themselves in need of supportive volunteers, they might stop to reflect on what we mean to the community.

Thanks to all who helped serve our Field Day. Please feel free to drop me note to tell me what you think we can do better to serve the membership and this event. We need a public face…and this is a good one.

73, Rob K9RST