Apathy killed the rocket club (10/15/2000)
A Webmaster Editorial
I remember attending the first public organizational meeting for
MASA. As Russ talked to us about his ideas for a club, I was
excited; here was the potential for a group of people that loved
model rocketry just as much as I did! I quickly became one of
the first members (#104) of MASA, and I have been active in it ever
since. I have watched as the club membership swelled and grew
- rapidly surpassing everyone's wildest expectations. It has
become an exciting group full of interesting people with diverse
interests, and I am proud to be a member.
Oh, sweet nostalgia. Anyway, we are now arriving at a
crucial turning point for the club. Our three founding
members, who have served as club officers since the first days, have
decided to retire before they "burn out". They have
served admirably and capably (for longer than my sanity would have
survived) and allowed all of us to enjoy the benefits of belonging
to a great rocket club. Next month, we will be nominating
people to fill their shoes. The burning questions that arise
in my mind are, "Who will be nominated, Who will lead the club
(Who will be willing to yield some of their precious rocket building
& flying time to serve the greater good), Will the club thrive,
Will the club survive?"
This past Tuesday, we held the October club meeting. Seven
people (including myself) attended. This may just represent a
record low turnout (at least since the early days of the
club). I acknowledge that the topic (photo night) wasn't the
most thrilling, but still, the numbers were disappointing.
Unfortunately, my informal observation is that a good 50 percent of
the club membership HAS NEVER ATTENDED A SINGLE
MEETING! There are many club members who I see every month at
the launch whom I've never seen at a meeting. Now, I realize
that personal circumstances may not make it possible for you to
attend every meeting, or even half of them per year, but still, this
is ridiculous! However, I'm not suggesting that going to
meetings will cure all ills; after all, it's participation that
counts and not merely attendance.
Absentee, non-participatory, membership is what kills an
organization. For far too many MASA members, the only concern
seems to be to show up once a month, launch their rockets, and then
disappear for another 30 days. Evidently, all of the planning,
coordinating, phone calls, equipment work, range setup, range tear
down, paperwork, contest and theme organization, FAA and landowner
liaison work, (and on, and on) happens "magically" or is
just "somebody else's problem". Perhaps they feel
that their $10 membership fee "buys them off" from such
activities. If everyone felt like this, the club would
disappear tomorrow. Fortunately, just enough dedicated people
have devoted themselves (thus far) to keep things from plummeting
into the abyss. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to
these people (you know who you are!)
Keeping this club from disappearing is an ongoing battle, and it
requires good people. I think that every MASA member needs to
ask his or herself, every month, "What did I do for the club,
this month?" You should be able to list at least one or
several things. For example:
Launches - did you help setup, help teardown, do LCO, do RSO,
clean launch rods, clean alligator clips, organize a contest, set up
a theme, care for the equipment, do the FAA notification, police the
grounds for trash, help a new member, help a visitor...
Meetings - did you contribute to the discussions, do a presentation,
organize a tour, make suggestions (and volunteer to carry them
Newsletter / Website - did you contribute an article, trip report,
photos, rocket plans...
And this just scratches the surface.
After that, ask yourself the question "What can I do to make
this a better club/experience for everyone involved?" You
have to care. You have to "pay forward". You
have to act.
Next Sunday's editorial will propose ideas, solicit volunteers,
and look for ways to get people involved. I sincerely hope
that apathy will not kill this rocket club!
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily
represent those of the MASA organization or its current
officers. They're all mine, mine, MINE! (but I'm willing to
share). If they've made you mad, perhaps mad enough to do
something, GOOD! If you wish to discuss this topic by
email. Don't bother to send me your excuses, if they're truly
valid, you already know it. If they're trivial, I don't have
time to read them.
IMHO, Alan Estenson