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How do you generate interest/excitement at your club?

Old 03-28-2009, 12:07 AM
  #1  
AEAJR
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Cool How do you generate interest/excitement at your club?

Whether you are a member of an AMA club or some other kind of club or flying group, I am interested to know if you do anything to get the membership involved. Having a place to fly is great and for many that is all they need or want.

Other organizations or groups like to run activities. Contests, fun fly events, cub scout days, things like that. Does your club or group do any of this? What do you do?

How do you communicate with your membership? Do you have regular meetings? Is attendance mandatory or is there a minimum number of meetings that must be attended?

Do you have a newsletter or some other form of outbound communication? How often is it sent? Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually? Do you send it by mail or e-mail or some other way?

Or, is the group so small that there is no need for formal communications?

Do you hold classes, seminars, workshops or similar things to help educate the membership?

I am always interested in how other clubs and groups operate. Please share what you can. Perhaps a good idea from your group will be useful to another group.


Edit: Also, how many members in your club/group?

Last edited by AEAJR; 03-28-2009 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:13 AM
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firemanbill
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Hi Ed,

We have a very active club. We have scheduled events from March through October and a Christmas party/banquet in December. So really only Jan, Feb, and Nov are the only months we don't have some sort of event.

March -Frost Bite Fun fly
April- Very Low pressure fun fly
May -SPA, Senior pattern association contest
June - is HOT (Helicopters over Tidewater) 2 day event
July - Scale meet
August - family picnic and fun fly
September - EOT Electrics over Tidewater
Oct - tbd
Nov - Shoot for food, paintball event

We have Scheduled meetings every month, at the park activities building in the winter and at the field from Apri - Sep. Meetings are not mandatory but are very well attended. We have a modelers showcase each month (grown up show and tell)

We also have a Tidewater RC Club Council that has reps from each of the area clubs. We get together and work the schedules to prevent as many date conflicts as possible with the events at the various clubs. There are several in this area. We also have reciprocal membership at all clubs. As long as you carry a valid current club card you can fly at any field in the area that is a member of the council.

We have several things within our own club like the pilot accomplishment program. 5 different levels that the club members can obtain by demonstrating proficiency with different maneuvers.

All in all we have a really great club with a great bunch of guys and gals.

http://newportnewsrc.org/
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:21 AM
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Bub Steve
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In our RC youth-Club (Mullet Mauroders) I just ask if anyone wants to go for ice-cream on the way home from the Field!!Bub steve
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:23 AM
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AEAJR
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That sounds like a pretty active group you have there. How many members?
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:24 AM
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CHELLIE
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in our club, we have BBQs, Swap meets, Drawings, its open to everyone, but i have to say, thats its the super nice people that we have, that makes it attractive to all, We have it posted on Wattflyers, Just about all of our members are Wattflyers, and all of the pilots in our club, go out of there way to help others, Thats the way it should be, Sooooooo i would say that its the people that make it Attractive, I belonged to another club, and the people there were not very friendly, i got out of that club in one big hurry, Take care, Chellie
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:38 AM
  #6  
rudderfeet
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Those are excellent questions and I hope lots of folks contribute - I'm interested in the same insight.

Because I just only just started flying RC, I'll come at these from a different angle. I used to be involved with my daughter's PTO and I also used to run BBSes, forums and special interest groups, as well as open source software development projects where I needed to keep volunteers involved. I've also been involved on the other side of volunteer organizations, so I'll say what motivates ME.

First, a reference to my local (AMA chapter) RC club. We create a sense of community with a monthly newsletter that states club business, finances, upcoming events (especially our yearly swap meet), field day (where we all pitch in to improve the place), stories contributed by members, notices, welcomes, etc. It is nice, and it really does help to create the club's identity in the form of pictures and prose. Oddly I wrote the club president this week offering to write some articles, and never got a response...

Our web site is fairly stale and is non-intuitive to navigate, but it does contain info about the club, directions to the field, membership info, some aerial and member photos. Now, I'm a lot younger than the old guard (but still in my 40s), so I would like to see our site re-done and made more hip and visually appealing to newcomers because they can bring in SO much more energy to a club, and anyone under 40 is web-savvy. Again, I offered this week to help with our, but no reply from the prez...

We do have an email group, but it's only used for official business about once or twice a month. Personally I wish we had a forum where members could talk about club-specific business, and we could use the answers to many of those as fodder for an online FAQ. That way new members could arrive at the field knowing what the morals and morays are.

Speaking again about energy levels - something I've noticed about this hobby is that the old guard are usually exactly that - of retirement age, probably because that kind of free time lends itself to volunteer group leadership. However, there always seems to be a disconnect between that generation and the younger ones when it comes to volunteering. This is really apparent between the old OS engine plank modelers and the electric heli or fan jet crowd, who tend to be in their teens or 20s. Is it because school-age and working-age members don't have the time? Are they too ego-centric to pitch in? Or do the old guys not see the opportunity to harvest the young'ns help?

As far as generalities go, getting volunteers to contribute time and energy is really a matter of finding out what motivates them, or what they need to get out of the arrangement. For some, it's notariety. For others it's pride, or charity, or the social experience, or it gives them a chance to do something they've never done before.

Sometimes it's food! I once got a chance to ask a Army Ranger how they get Afgan leaders to attend local advisory meetings, and he plainly said "food brings people to the table, no matter who they are or where they're located." Donuts and coffee (based on "breaking bread together") can be a great reward to those showing up at a business meeting or field effort.

You could identify more outgoing members and use them for public relations. Keep a list of newsletter contributors and cycle around who writes an article each month. Take a digital camera with you to the field and snap people smiling or looking intense while flying or making light of a crash. It's all good bonding material for print and web presence.

Anyway, I'm sure the AMA also has great things to say as well - I just wanted to chime in with some ideas that I've seen work in other venues, so you can get a sense for what's fairly universal with volunteer organizations. Hope it helps...
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:59 AM
  #7  
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Our club, the Long Island Silent Flyers, www.lisf.org has a real nice field in Syosset NY. We are a glider and small electric club of about 60 members. Ages range from 12 to 80 something. We are an AMA chartered club that is over 30 years old.

We have meetings every month at the local Library. Attendance is not required, but we get between 20 and 35 members at the meetings. Discussion can become quite lively and people usually hang around for quite a while after the meetings are over. Who doesn't love to talk planes, look at other people's planes or swap planes and parts?

There are frequent presentations at the meetings. We have had people demonstrate building techniques of all types. Next meeting we are going to have a discussion on plane finders. At the December meeting we have a party. This past December we had a raffle too. That was a lot of fun.

We have a very active building community. Some of our members design their own planes. There are many planes brought to meetings for show and tell. And often there are group builds going on. We had a bunch of Bubble Dancer gliders built last year. This year there seems to be a bunch of discus launched gliders under construction. Listening to these guys swap techniques and doing group materials buys is a lot of fun.

From April to October we have 4 contests a month. 2M glider, unlimited glider, hand launched glider and an electric glider/airplane F5J style climb and glide contest. We also have an ongoing contest called the Big Sky Longest Duration contest. Anyone can turn in a time at any time. They just need a witness that the flight took place at our field. Awards are handed out at the December meeting.

Our club is very active in the Eastern Soaring League. www.flyesl.com This is a competition soaring league made up of clubs along the east coast of the United States. We host 3 ESL contests a year, each of which is 2 days long. We get 20-40 pilots coming to the contests from all over the East coast. Among the contestants are some of the best glider pilots around. Tons of fun and a great learning opportunity!

This year we are planning at least one Fun Fly day. This year it will be based on RES gliders. A picnic will be part of the day.

This weekend we have the annual RC club exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation airplane museum. Many of the local RC clubs do the same. We bring planes, talk about flying with the general public. I will be doing a presentation on soaring.

Official club communications is in three forms. We have a great web site. We also have our own forum. And each month a newsletter goes out.

I also have my own little weekly e-mail called the Weekend Flying Report. It is not an "offical" club publication but it is mostly focused on the interests of the club. The idea is to get people thinking about the weekend and about flying. It seems to help bring people to the field. This reports on the weather for the weekend, when flying will be good, what is happening in the club for the weekend, and any interesting stuff I happen to find on the web.

It is a very friendly group. New members are welcomed with open arms. If they are newbies, everyone pitches in to help them learn to fly. It is really very much a family kind of feeling. These people have become my circle of friends as well as my flying buddies. I would not enjoy flying as much as I do if it were not for them.
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:14 AM
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Laggard
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You tape razor blades to Zagis and chase each other around. You've never seen such excitement.
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:16 AM
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CHELLIE
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Originally Posted by laggard View Post
you tape razor blades to zagis and chase each other around. You've never seen such excitement.
LOL great way to lose weight too, in chunks
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Old 03-28-2009, 07:21 AM
  #10  
BradT
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My club is the Burnaby lake Flyers, est. in 2000, in Burnaby, B.C., with about 150 members by the beginning of Summer each year. We fly only electrics, of all sizes, at a City -owned park, with a contract for specific times/dates throughout the year, for which we pay the City $20/member/year. There is only 1 general membership meeting per year, to elect the exec., and is usually attended by 1/3rd or more of the members. The free beer and pizza served each year might help a little there. :-) The exec. members and the safety committee meet several times each season, as the need arises, to discuss business and safety issues.

We have 3 one-day events every year, a fun-fly on Fathers Day in May, a low-key fun scale meet in June, and a Memorial Fly-In in Aug., in memory of one of our founding members, who also established one of the largest, oldest r/c clubs in the Province, and contributed his time and energy to the betterment of the hobby for over 50 years. On any day during the Summer with decent weather, there are often 30 or more pilots at the field, so we have to enforce a 15 min. max. "pin time" for each flight.

Our members mostly communicate through our website and forum, at www.hoods-up.com , and through contact at the field. We are in a well-exposed site in our park, so many new members, of all ages, are attracted to join the club simply by seeing us enjoy ourselves in our hobby. We even convinced the City to make our area wheelchair accessable, at a cost of nearly $10,000, as we have had a few members in the past who had difficulty getting onto the field in wheelchairs to fly. This year, we are losing the use of our site for a bit over 2 weeks in late July/early August, as the City of Burnaby is hosting the Worlds Police and Firemens Games (more athletes than the Summer Olympics!!), and needs all of the parks and sports venues in the City to meet their needs.

I hope some of that info is useful to the O.P.

Cheers,
Brad.
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Old 03-28-2009, 11:34 AM
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AEAJR
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BratT, that was a great post. That's a Big Club.
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by AEAJR View Post
That sounds like a pretty active group you have there. How many members?
As of the march meeting we have 68 flying members. That will increase over the next month or two as the flying season begins in earnest. We usually end up with just over 100 members.

I also forgot to mention our Swap meet in February each year.

It is a very active club and I do enjoy it very very much.
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:27 PM
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In July we had a RES glider day at our club field. But more than designating it for a specific kind of airplane we declared it a picnic. Family and friends welcome.



The club supplied soda and water on ice. Club members were invited to bring family and friends. They were also invited to bring food for a sharing table.



I set up a 2X4 table and let me tell you we barely had enough room for all the stuff people brought. I think we had over 40 people at the field. Pilots, parents, kids, aunts, uncles, cousins. People wandered onto the field to see what all the excitement was about.



The weather was perfect. We were giving lessons to people who were interested.



It was one of the best days at the field ever. We picked up at least two new members and probably have 3 more waiting in the wings.



A family picnic day? Wonderful!
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Old 09-13-2009, 06:16 AM
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BradT
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AEAJR, that sounds like great day for all involved. Our Memorial Fly In, mid august, is similar; we always have a BBQ going, with soft drinks and water, and some of the members' families bring various ethnic foods.

We used to do a "builders night" 1 evening a week during the winter, but that sort of died off as ARFs became more popular. We've decided to revive that tradition, and have rented a meeting room from the City, adjacent to our field, where we will get together for 3 hours every Wed. evening, from Oct. through March, to build, assemble arfs, teach soldering, radio setup, plane balancing, control throw setup, covering techniques, and whatever else comes to mind, or is suggested by the members. It will most likely also become a social gathering, just as the old builders night did, and that's good for the club, too. It helps to keepthe members enthused during our usually damp, gloomy, West Coast winter
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:01 AM
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We also have an active club, but we don't have that many scheduled events (such as fun flys, etc). But, we have several groups who regularly fly that comprise a large part of our membership. The great thing is that they aren't "cliques"... for the most part, everyone gets along very, very well. We have weekly training for new pilots, usually with at least 4 newbies, and combat on most Mondays. I'm trying to start up an E-Combat group, too, and have several members interested in joining up. Also we have monthly meetings.

We're lucky to have a lot of members who don't really need anything special to get them excited! Things are usually hopping out here
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:56 AM
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Well, generally uhhh a good tremendous, horrendous and dramatic crash into the pits usually gets'em all goin.

Kidding of course, but ya gotta admit, that'd do it.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:34 PM
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rocket_jim
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Here in Huntsville, Alabama, we have several AMA clubs, a group of on-line Alabama Rocket City Renegades, the non-club, and 3 loosely organized indoor flying organizations. We have here a fabulous wealth of R/C opportunity and participation, if one thinks about it! And two local hobby shops, neither with any organizations or scheduled events related to them.

Some of the clubs have AMA sites under full club control. Several of the others have the AMA insurance set up on sites that are private, college, or public property. Most have a newsletter, blog, and/or web site, but not all.

The Renegades non-club has a much more active on-line presence than the "official" clubs. Several of the clubs have monthly meetings. One never meets, except to fly contests. One has monthly social dinner meetings at varying restaurant locations including the spouses rather than the dull, boring business meetings the other clubs have. Several of the clubs have monthly flying events during the summer months. One has about one flying get-together a year. The indoor clubs fly, 1 weekly, and the other 2 about monthly, year-round, due to building availability.

In summary, there does not seem to be any common denominator here except that the guys (mostly) like to go fly their planes. With very few exceptions, the flying fields, indoor flying sites, and even the scheduled events are "places" where people go to fly, and participation is un-coordinated. You just go fly, you don't tell anyone beforehand. You don't talk about it beforehand or afterwards. Event results are not widely reported. If you won, you know you won.

I'm not aware of anything specific here that really generates interest/excitement. Just build, fly, crash, repeat!

Jim
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