- Membership Recruitment
- Other Activities
Think back to the time before you got busy with the process of organizing your Section. Remember all the things you wanted to do in a group then? Well, you’ve just accomplished everything it takes to begin to make your plans come true. Don’t be afraid to try anything, but don’t try everything at once. There’s plenty of time for all the projects you dreamed about before you formed your Section.
Schedule regular sport launches. This simple, easy-to-organize activity is undertaken by just about every NAR Section. It’s a chance to get together at the flying field, see the new models and new designs, and fly until dark — or maybe beyond that, if you have a night launch with lighted rockets. Your members benefit tremendously from these launch sessions; they are the fundamental reason most people join a rocket club. Your “rookie rocketeers” get to see more experienced members strut their stuff, and they will learn. Your experienced members often get new ideas from one another, and everyone can have a few laughs over those less-than-perfect flights. And don’t forget, you’re much less likely to lose rockets when you have all those extra pairs of eyes to help watch the launch. Like meetings, they should be on a regular schedule at a regular location. Don’t over-organize the launch. Schedule one and your members will show up. Schedule them on a regular, predictable basis at the same launch site and eventually people (members and others) will build this routine into their personal regimen.
Don’t start off by having formal competitions at launches. Get your feet on the ground first. Let the members fly or not fly as they wish. The bulk of the time at most launches is spent inspecting one another’s models and predicting flight performances. This kind of interaction is really educational. Your younger members will learn building and finishing skills, engine selection and flying tips from the older members. And the younger crowd will often be the source of new model ideas you never thought of.
Fly local demonstration launches. They are excellent ways to attract new members and inform the public of the fun, education, and safety of sport rocketry. Some Sections make this their primary activity. They have so much fun putting on the show, they can’t stop! Hearing the cheers and applause for a really super flight can’t be beat!
Organize your own contests. Your first contests do not have to be NAR contest events. You can gain valuable experience by running simple contests with two or three events. In fact, some NAR Sections host “funny meets” with bizarre events created by the club. Try “A-Engine Ping Pong Ball Duration” for some side-splitting flights. Night launches with fully-illuminated rockets are also popular.
Surprisingly, business meetings can be an activity your members will look forward to. They should be held regularly, at the same time and same place on a regular basis. NIRA and NARHAMS Sections have held their meetings in the same spot and time for years. Even now, members who have left the area often return on vacation or for visits and know where to find them. Your members will know where to find you if you stay in one spot. Meetings are the place to conduct club business. The president runs the meeting, usually with the help of a prepared agenda. The agenda keeps the meeting on track, and assures that important business is attended to. The secretary should read the minutes of the last meeting. This allows those not present last month to know what went on. The treasurer should give his report, then old and pending business is reviewed. New business follows that, then adjournment.
Have experienced members give talks at your meetings. Since all of your club is there, why not have everyone benefit from the experience of your best boost/glider builder or scale modeler? Your youngsters need instruction too. Give someone a chance to teach those forgotten techniques: filling body tube seams, getting good airfoils on fins, correctly packing parachutes, building a good launch system. These talks break up the meeting’s tedium and keep interest up. You can set aside certain meetings as group building sessions — have everyone bring their parts and tools and spend the evening building a particular plan or type of model. This activity is so popular that some clubs do it at every meeting.
Don’t leave fun out of your meetings. The NIRA Section always begins its monthly meetings with its “Model of the Month” contest, where members vote on models displayed and select the best one for this club honor. They also show NASA films and movies or tapes of their own launches and contests. Members have also given talks about modeling techniques, and hardly a month goes by that someone doesn’t mention a new product they’ve tried and liked. These items aren’t really club business, but they keep the meetings lively and interesting. Don’t be afraid to include a few of them.
SMASH likes to schedule Build Sessions at all of their winter meetings. There is always a building theme, sometimes certain competition models, other time fun events. Kit bash is always fun, have every member bring the same model and let the builder use the parts in that model to build his own creative version. Rambo Kit Bash is a fun event where each participant brings a new kit and adds their parts to the pile, after everyone adds their parts you take turns picking parts to build a new model. Gooney builds are also fun. Use a Baby Bertha as a base and build a scale or classic kit using that Baby Bertha as the tube and nose cone. Google Gooney Rockets to find more examples.
If your town has a public library, ask about setting up a static display of rockets, posters, engines, etc. Other places to look include park district offices and malls. These displays are great publicity. Since space is nearly always limited, use only the best models you have available. Setting things up is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, and you get to repeat the performance when taking down the display.
What about a promotion in conjunction with your local hobby shop owner? Many Sections have built a nice kit, and raffled it off at a hobby shop. It gets the club a lot of new names and addresses to contact. The hobby shop owner gets more traffic through his store. If you build several kits, you can hit multiple hobby shops, getting more members involved in the building, printing up the entry blanks, and contacting the hobby shops. A raffle lets you build rockets, but more importantly, it trains more of your members in public relations. What more could you want from a club project than active members, better relations with your local hobby shop, and publicity, all for the cost of a couple of kits?
Try a social outing after your meetings or launches. NOVAAR leaves their meetings only to immediately gather at a local fast food restaurant. Several hot competition Sections have hosted various victory parties after contests. You’ll need to find someone willing to host the event, but the costs can be low if you make it a “pot luck” affair. When you socialize, you can continue to shoot the breeze, discuss the latest products, and laugh over flights at the last contest or launch. After-launch or meeting socializing is another quick, easy-to-organize activity that costs you nothing, so try it.
Organize trips to contests, sport launches, and conventions. Every rocketeer remembers his “first” trip experience. Contests give you the chance to see really first-rate rocket performance. Conventions give you a chance to learn about topics ranging from basic building to plastic model conversion to running rocket clubs! Hear experienced NAR members pass on their tips for success in flying and organization. You can also see manufacturers displaying and selling their latest and hard-to-find products. Many conventions also feature auctions or swap shops. Your members can clean out their workshops or pick up some bargains!
How about visiting a local science museum, aviation museum, or NASA facility? Schedule a day when the whole club can make it. Inquire about group rates, special programs, and tours of “insider” areas.
Contact your local movie theater when a space related movie is playing. They are usually happy to set up a special showing for a group. There is nothing more fun that seeing a great movie on the big screen with all of your friends.
Informal, non-flying competitions can be great fun. How about a static display contest where every member builds the same model or kit bashes the same kit? Remember to recognize the winners at the meeting following the judging.
Club Emblematic Items
Shirts, patches, hats, decals, pins, and similar “emblematic” items are a great way to reinforce team spirit in your Section and have your members show their pride in belonging. They might even be a money-maker for the Section depending on your business model for how they are bought and sold.