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.