October 12, 2020….
I’d like to take a minute and talk about a few things on my mind as we head in the 4th quarter of 2020. It’s been quite a year, to say the least. Our club has changed from an “in person” club to basically a “virtual club” within a few months. The transition has been a little rough. I totally understand that meeting virtually for some members is not desirable. Attendance at our virtual meetings and events has been mixed, with some well attended and some not, but I think part of that is getting used to the new “normal”. As we push into the 4th quarter, I’d like to share my thoughts about 2020, the future of the club, and ham radio as we move into 2021.
Looking back on 2020, once the government made the decision to cancel any group or in-person meetings due to the pandemic, the club had to look at ways we could still meet, as we were not going to put the club on hold. The board talked about many different avenues and settled on YouTube live streams for our general meetings. We decided to take this route as YouTube is free, it provides interaction via the chat and if you have a computer with a web browser, you can watch the livestream. Programs like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Meet require a higher level of knowledge about audio and video for them to work properly, so we wanted to keep it as simple as possible for our membership to attend our virtual monthly meetings. Plus YouTube records the meetings for later playback if you miss the meeting. If you didn’t attend a virtual monthly meeting, I encourage you to go check out our YouTube page where all the monthly meetings are viewable on-demand. You can find all of our past meetings at https://www.youtube.com/c/slsrc(w0src)/.
For more of a social interaction, we decided to hold smaller group meetings via Google Hangouts/Meet, which started with the monthly breakfast. After a few months, we discontinued these in-person virtual meetings due to low attendance. I’m not sure a virtual meeting was the best format for this. If you have attended one of the breakfasts in the past, you’ll find many conversations over the four, five, six tables we occupy during the morning. A virtual meeting basically only allows one person to talk at one time without interruption to other conversations, so it was hard having one on one conversations like our breakfast format. We have not given up hope on the virtual breakfast, as we canceled the September event and will probably bring it back for a semi-monthly event. We are exploring other options.
Our mentoring sessions moved to a repeater based event during the summer, but we are looking at moving the “Back to Basics” to Google Meet for the month of October. Google Hangouts/Meet is like Zoom but free for the club to use and lends itself better for teaching. I think this will allow more interaction between club members to share ideas and information. The mentoring sessions are geared towards the newer ham, but we need “seasoned” hams to attend to give good advice regarding best practices! Be looking for more communication from Cliff (KCØSDV) on how you can participate.
Did you play one of our repeater games during the summer? Thanks to Bill (KC9CIK) and Rebecca (KC9CIJ) on driving this effort. They have put a lot of effort into building the rules, the back end submission forms and administrative work to pull this off. As we were all “stuck at home” this summer the board wanted to drive interaction on the repeaters. What better way to accomplish that with a game type setting and additional nets. We don’t have any plans for games or additional nets, but are looking forward to new ideas as we round out 2020.
Moving forward, I encourage you to participate in as many virtual meetings and events as possible to help drive that human interaction. I want to thank everybody who has helped plan, communicate, execute and administer the additional programs and virtual meetings as we transitioned to a virtual club. The club has many possibilities to get involved and ask questions. You can also contact us at our email address at firstname.lastname@example.org or ping us on Facebook or Twitter. The club account information is on our website at www.slsrc.org.
Looking into 2021, the first half is going to be challenging for the club. Hopefully, we can expect some movement on an effective vaccine. Once the vaccine adoption numbers start to roll in and the effectiveness statistics tick upward, we will return to in-person meetings, but it will be a very slow process. We might even need to have hybrid meetings in-person while we stream them on-line to make sure we are staying safe. I don’t expect the club to have in-person meetings until the second quarter of 2021 or beyond. If there is an effective vaccine and the state of Missouri allows group settings, this doesn’t mean the club should rush to meet. I think we can all agree we want to take baby steps in the return to in-person meetings. I trust the next president will take the pulse of the membership and gauge if the membership wants to meet in person. No matter the decision, it will be a difficult one to make.
On a positive note, I’m very happy with all of the contributions and outreach I’ve received from members regarding the change to virtual or repeater based events in 2020. Moving our meetings to an on-line format was an easy decision, but hard to figure out logistically and procedurality on how it would work on the back end. With lots of discussion of different avenues, technology on our side, and with help from our membership and board, I think the club is doing an excellent job at meeting, staying in touch and promoting the hobby. Looking forward to 2021!