My First ARRL Field Day 2024

(Ed note): Field Day, which was held June 22 through June 23, this year starred record heat topping out at 100° with the low only being 79° at 6 AM Sunday. This did not deter the members of FARA from persevering and putting forth a full category 4A effort.
This year we have a brand new ham, Aaron, KQ4PRE, giving his account of his first field day experience. Thank you Aaron.

My first Field Day

I didn’t know what to expect for my first Field Day, having only earned my Technician in March of this year. I could tell that it was a big deal to the other members of FARA, so I was getting excited as the time grew closer. I was unable to make the club meeting prior to the event, and not being able to operate on the Air due to my limited privileges with my current ticket, I decided to lend my back more than my PTT finger initially. Arriving at the Park with my daughter in tow I was amazed at the stations the club members were setting up. I jumped in feet first and helped set up our stations for the event and get everything on the air before the sun got too hot. Hot it was that day, with the temps reaching almost 100 during the peak of the afternoon. I had to depart before the 1400 start time due to some previous engagements but was eager to get back as soon as I could.

As we (me and my daughter) walked around the different stations that evening everyone was more than eager to explain what was going on and show us how the stations operated. This is where the fun began! Ric, KN4FTT, was running the Phone SSB station and asked if I wanted to hop on. I couldn’t believe it; he was more than happy to sit as the control operator and let me make my first QSOs on the air. Getting to run Justin’s, NB3A, Flex 6600 was a real treat. I was tickled to sit there and even made a DX contact for the club. Then, to top that, I got to switch places with my daughter (12) and Rick showed her the ropes and let her try her hand at calling. After a bit we thanked Ric and jumped over to the CW station. Here both of us got to run the Icom 7300 under the watchful eye of Rob, KG4EHL, the Elmer at the station. We both racked up a few QSOs and put a few more on the board and were both pumped to try our hand at something we never tried before. After a few hours hanging out with the guys we headed home to get a few hours sleep before doing it again the next day. Me and my daughter hit the sack at the QTH around 23:30.

Author’s daughter Chloe being shown morse code ops by Rob, KG4EHL

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, my daughter and I set back off to the park to get back to the guys and participate however we could. Up until this point I was a green Technician that had spent the last 2 months studying to take my General. FARA changed their monthly VE session to hold it at the Field Day event so this was my moment. I spent the next few hours cramming questions and reviewing the material as I was determined to get on the air myself as soon as possible. As the anticipation built to the test everyone was encouraging and wished me luck. I sat down at 10:00 to begin my exam, with my daughter watching eagerly from afar. My weeks of preparation paid off, I was the first to complete the exam, although it wasn’t a race, I was just eager and prepared. The volunteers graded my exam and congratulated me on earning my General! To be honest, everyone at Field Day shared in the achievement. Everyone that was there came up and congratulated everyone as they passed, it was so welcoming and inspiring.

Visitor Station

This is where Field Day became special to me. After completing my General and getting the greenlight to operate on my own I set off to the Phone SSB station and got to work, frequency card in hand and daughter beside me. After making a few QSOs on my own with my buddy Fred, KO4OSB, at the station next to me my daughter began to give me the look all parents are familiar with, “It’s my turn”. The proudest moment I had was sitting next to my daughter smiling as she busted through the pileups, and I logged the contacts as her very own control operator. I’ll remember this day forever.

As we sat there hunting for contacts Justin pointed out an opening in the band on the SDR and said to dial there and call CQ. The race was on. I rolled to the open frequency and began calling CQ Field Day and had a run taking us all the way up to the finish. I logged the final contact for the club at 13:59 and officially closed out the weekend.

The comradery amongst the club was amazing, I’m glad that I decided to join. We struck camp in just over an hour and everyone began heading their separate ways. Everyone braved the heat to share in a hobby they loved. I will always remember my first Field Day. It was the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. I’ve walked a way with so much new knowledge and memories that I’ll always reminisce. I’m looking forward to the coming years and can’t wait for the next one.

Ed Note: Thanks to our field day coordinator Justin, NB3A, for all of his hard work and dedication. Thanks also to our field day captains: Justin, NB3A, Phone; Rob, KG4EHL, CW; John, KX4O, Digital/NTS; Andy, K1RA, Solar; Jeremiah, K4HCO, VHF+; Nic, KY4OP, GOTA.

Enjoy the slideshow from our Field Day below (click to enlarge photos)