ARRL Kids Day–a view from inside.


Big Island ARRL News, 31 January 2017, 02:55 hrs, UTC, Post #108.

Source:  Personal e-mail from Lloyd Cabral (KH6LC), host of the Hawaii Island ARRL Kid’s Day.

On Saturday, 07 January 2017, Lloyd Cabral and several of his fellow radio amateurs hosted children from the Keaau area of Hawaii Island for the 2017 edition of the ARRL Kid’s Day.  The purpose of the event was to introduce the younger set to the wonders of Amateur Radio, let them speak to children their own age over the radio,  encourage them to pursue scientific and technical careers after formal schooling, and get them interested in Amateur Radio as a lifelong hobby and learning experience.

A few days ago, I asked Lloyd to assemble some thoughts about Kid’s Day and his impressions of the event from both the children and the volunteer staff of “elmers” (mentors).  As a side note, the event was held at Lloyd’s contest station–a treat in itself.

Lloyd sent me an e-mail on Monday, 29 January 2017 with these observations:

Anyone that’s been in the ham radio hobby for any length of time has definitely noticed the increasing average of our members.  Attendance at most any radio club in this country could just as well be a social gathering at a senior home.  When I was a teenager in the 60s, most every High School in the SF Bay Area had an amateur radio club, mostly adjacent to the electronics class.  During those same years, radio contesting was really ramping up so many of these young amateurs would compete with each other or join together to operate in a Multi-Operator class.

Today, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a High School with an amateur radio club or perhaps even an electronics class.

My first awareness of Kids Day came in 2009 when I noticed a small announcement in “QST” on the upcoming ARRL Kids Day in January.  Having built a Multi-Operator HF contest station at my home in Keaau, I thought Kids Day would be the perfect  opportunity to showcase what HF (high frequency) ham radio is all about. With announcements and flyers at a few BIARC meetings and a short article in the Club Newsletter, we were able to round up 2 girls and 4 boys that first year.  While it might not sound like a big number, it actually worked out perfectly.  We were able to operate two stations simultaneously so the kids would trade off.  the older kids caught on immediately and were soon chatting it up with other kids all over the  U.S. and Canada as well as a few foreign countries.  Pretty neat!

With headphone splitters, the younger kids would listen to their older peers until they figured it out and their confidence level rost to the point where (they) were willing to give it a try.  Most never looked back. For me, the highlight of that first year had to be listening to two  six-year-olds chatting it up.  We weren’t sure what language they were speaking but they didn’t seem to have a problem understanding each other!

At each operating position are large sign boards that help the kids with phonetics and general formalities of a radio contact.  Once that’s out of the way, the topics are just about unlimited…age, school, pets, hobbies, sports, local weather, etc.

Since the Kids Day we participate in is  in January, exchanging Hawaii weather temperatures with the kids on the frozen mainland is very popular.

Our guest operators have ranged in age from 6 to 18 and without exception, they’ve all seemed to enjoy the experience.  The older kids are alway great helping the younger ones.  There’s alway an adult ham coaching the kids at each operating station.  I believe this one-on-one coaching is the key to making Kids Day a positive experience for young operators.  Sitting down in front of a microphone connected to a squawking radio can seem irritating to anyone, much less a child.

Our men and women “coaches” provide the encouragement and guidance necessary to ensure “our kids” have a positive experience on the radio.  At the end of the day, we’re not sure who has more fun, the kids on the radio or the adults coaching them!

Since Kids Day in Hawaii runs from 8 AM until  2 PM, we alway provide a healthy light breakfast consisting of juice, fruit, yogurt, muffins, etc.  This year, we offered waffles, which were a big hit with everyone.  Lunch usually consists of sandwiches and pizza.  No complaints so far.

2017 was our 8th year participating in the ARRL Kids Day.  It’s easy, it’s fun and you never know if our action is going to ignite that same spark in a young person that hooked this farm boy over 50 years ago.  Even more important than them ever getting a license, is them leaving here with a favorable impression of amateur radio.  We’ll never know how our small act of hospitality and kindness might benefit our hobby in the years to come.

Lloyd Cabral (KH6LC)

Keaau, Hawaii

Thanks, Lloyd for that personal look at the ARRL Kids Day event.

Please send your Hawaii Amateur Radio news items to at least two weeks prior to your event so I can notify our local print and broadcast media in a timely manner.

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Thanks for joining us today!

Aloha es 73 de

Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)

Public Information Coordinator

Hawaii Island, ARRL Pacific Section

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