The ARRL Contest Advisory Committee (CAC) has been looking into how to attract more youngsters and youth into Amateur Radio contesting, and it has invited all hams, and especially young people, whether or not they’re already radio amateurs, to take the Youth in Amateur Radiosport Survey.
“Please spread the word about the survey among your ham friends and local radio and contest clubs,” said CAC Chair George Wagner, K5KG. Wagner said the CAC would like to see more young people engaged in what he called “the thrill and challenge of competitive ham radio contesting — also called ‘radiosport.’” Wagner said that he and fellow CAC member Glenn Johnson, W0GJ, will hand out survey announcement cards at Dayton Hamvention® — Johnson at the NCDXF booth and Wagner at Carole Perry’s Youth Forum and at the ARRL Youth Rally.
“We hope to capture a lot of survey responses on the fly at those events,” he said. “Some other CAC members will be at Dayton, and they will also have survey cards to hand out.”
As an initial step, the CAC is gathering information about where and how young people are currently involved in radiosport. It’s contacting ham radio clubs, contest clubs, private schools, international youth ham radio organizations, and the general public. The committee is using surveys, focus groups, and even face-to-face meetings to gauge “the lay of the land” about youth and radiosport in today’s world, Wagner said.
Radio contests grew out of attempts in the early 1900s to transmit and receive signals across the Atlantic, essentially the beginning of the use of “the short waves” to span such long distances. Contests have allowed hams to practice message handling — used during emergency communication — as well as to gauge their own operator proficiency and their station’s performance. Over time, contests grew and flourished to the point where many hams today pursue them as their primary ham activity.
“For those who participate in radiosport, it provides a thrill that’s often compared to roller coaster rides or video gaming or big game hunting,” CAC member Don Daso, K4ZA, said. “There’s just something about contacting a great number of people all over the world as fast as possible, or talking to someone — just like yourself, at a station like your own — on the opposite side of the world, and doing it without using a giant infrastructure or even a huge outlay of money.”
Like many types of competitions, this “sport,” Daso said, can be addictive.
The survey will continue to accept input until August 31. Scan the QR code (below) or visit the online survey to participate.