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What I Missed When I Missed Field Day

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On Saturday afternoon I saw a tweet from a fellow ham that set me to thinking about missing amateur radio field day this year (I’ve left off who it came from and the first part of the tweet because the account is protected):

“Apparently this club doesn’t care about QSOs”

My response was:

“Field Day isn’t all about QSOs, more to it than the contest aspect”

This year, I missed field day because of my work schedule. This brief exchange made me think about what I missed about not going to field day and resulted in a few more tweets over the weekend, but this one sums up my feelings:

“What I’ve really missed about #FieldDay is the camaraderie, just hanging out and having fun with fellow ham radio operators”

In my experience (and not surprisingly in our modern competitive culture), Field Day is seen by many hams as a contest first and foremost and the weekend becomes all about trying to make the most contacts and score the most points. I’ve always seen Field Day from a slightly different angle and over the last few years as I’ve spent more time in Brunswick than in Savannah my view has solidified. To me, Field Day is about having fun, fellowship, and learning. To be sure, getting on the radio is part of the fun, but making it all about QSO count and points takes the enjoyment out of it for me. What is fun is the annual debate about what antennas to use and where to put them and the actual station assembly. It’s fun to work the radio a bit then enjoy conversation with other hams, many of which you may talk to on the radio but not get to see and meet very often. Many of my best memories of Field Day come from hanging out at 3 or 4 in the morning and just enjoying good fellowship with fellow amateur radio operators. Inevitably I learn something each field day; a new technique or perhaps the features of a new radio; perhaps I’m the one that gets to show someone else something new or help out a new ham.

Sometimes it’s good to drop the pretense of preparedness exercise and the pursuit of points and just have fun – that is what I missed about Field Day.


5 Comments

  1. KD8NJZ says:

    I couldn’t agree more Mac! What you describe as a good Field Day is what I just experienced with my club (Wood County Amateur Radio Club). It’s DEFINITELY about the fun, learning and friendship. We have some QSOs, yes, but we talk more off the air than on. And for me, that’s what makes it enjoyable. I camped out this year with one other Ham, and as you described…stayed up until about 3am…loved it. Just hanging out and making QSOs now and then. Great article. 73 de KD8NJZ

    • KF4LMT says:

      Thanks! My habit in the past was to take vacation around Field Day so that I could attend and stay through the night. Last year was a bit different because I messed up my leave request (but I enjoyed visiting some Field Day ops in Brunswick and Kingsland). This year I wasn’t able to put in for leave and ended up working some extra hours during the weekend that kept me from getting out to a Field Day. I really missed being able to get back to Savannah and spend some time with my friends in the hobby.

  2. Bob Hearn says:

    My first field day in probably 10 years or better. Other than it being hot and all, I enjoyed myself immensely (I am a yankee so I haven’t adjusted to this heat yet :). We were a little slow out of the gate but it turned out well. It took me two days to get my body back in sync after operating over night. But I got contacts from Hawaii, Barbadoes, Puerto Rico and most of the states. But like Mac says it’s the friendship and the debate I enjoy more. The radio operating is just icing on the cake. I also believe it is good practice and learning lest we have another New Orleans on our hands. I met some new friends and got acquinted with ham radio of today. Since field day I have been thinking about putting a rig in my car and getting on the bands again.(Forgot to get the Extra study guide from Guy). Overall a grand time. Next time I am going to bring a cot with me….Bob, N1HNR

    • KF4LMT says:

      Nighttime is my favorite time (Is it any surprise, I work midnight shifts all the time)! Did you guys have any 6 Meter equipment set up? Although I didn’t mention it in the post, another of my favorite parts of Field Day is the almost annual morning E-skip opening on 6.

      I look forward to hearing you on the air. Hopefully one of my days off will soon coincide with a club meeting and I can meet you there!

  3. Bob Hearn says:

    Initial we did but I don’t think it was utilized much. I worked mostly 20 and 40 meters and 20 was hopping all night. 40 was good also. Not many operators and quiet. Nice, clear QSOs

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