Mentoring ("elmering") Young Hams

Today, I had a break from my normal substitute teaching duties at Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School.  Now that I had a free day, I could spend a few hours catching up on email and various amateur-related posts.

I came across an interesting  article in today's edition of, which encapsulated much of what I feel is right with amateur radio.  Don Keith, N4KC, wrote a nicely-paced short story called "A Dark and Stormy Night".  The plot revolves around a back porch discussion between a newly licensed 15-year old ham and two older hams, who happen to be husband and wife.  The trio was reviewing what it meant to be an amateur radio operator while a thunderstorm and a power outage played out on a warm summer night.  All of the usual reasons for being an amateur radio operator and the service hams bring to their communities are given in an easy to understand, conversational tone.  Keith has the unusual ability to make you feel part of the story.

What impressed me most about the story was the willingness of the older hams to admit their "on again, off again" relationship with amateur radio and how their mutual  interest in amateur radio lead to marriage and a life-long commitment to serve as mentors or elmers to a younger generation.  The two older operators come across as people you would want to know--people who have lived life and want to share their knowledge and even their fears with the upcoming ranks of newcomers.  The younger ham appears to be a normal, inquisitive 15-year old who isn't afraid to ask questions and tackle the problems of his new hobby.

I suppose in many ways, Keith has rephrased the Golden Rule in an amateur radio context---treat people as you wish to be treated.  Many of us have had poor experiences with insensitive clubs and rude operators.  While that hasn't stopped hams from progressing in the hobby, it surely has left a bad taste for new amateurs who want help and direction rather than criticism and "put downs".  Some of us tend to foreget that we were once new and had the same uncertainties as the young amateur in the story.

As I approach the "event horizon" of my life, I tend to forget the bad experiences and concentrate on the present and even the future (if I live long enough).  I've learned to "turn the dial" and ignore those whose joy in life seems to be creating misery for themselves and others.  Life is too short to be consumed by some perceived wrong.  Change is inevitable--life moves on.

So, Don Keith tells a good story--one that could help you rekindle your love for amateur radio.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15


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