Through the years I have been fortunate to visit and participate at many IPMS clubs including North and South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Missouri and three different organizations in Arkansas. I can not recall any club with the number of members that we at CASM are blessed with, or the range of skills and talent. I am not saying that this was not the case, just that I do not recall such, but then I am getting older. I am talking about folks like Jeff Griffin, Ron Leker, Rusty Nail, Tom Brown, Ray Smith (even if he does build paper airplanes), Rick Knapp, Dave Branson, Noel Lawson, Matt Bond, Daris Long and Kenneth Childers. All of them willing to share their knowledge and techniques with anyone who wants to learn and is willing to ask questions.
We all enjoy our hobby, and we enjoy seeing new people come into it, or return to the hobby after being away for several years. But what if we try something new, at least for CASM, to make more people aware of the club and to possibly bring in a few more folks?
Before you start throwing stones and saying, “Oh there goes Wilson again wanting to change things,” please hear me out.
We have been having our club group builds for a while now, and while it’s great to see some finished models three or four times a year, beyond Sproo-Doo, I’d like to suggest something a little different and hopefully one or two of you may find the suggestion something of interest. The group builds usually see from three to eight entries at any of the competitions. Let’s take it a little farther.
What I am suggesting is that at each monthly meeting we have an open contest. We would have some flyers printed and post them where we meet at HobbyTown, and hopefully at Rail and Sprue, to let other modelers outside of CASM know about the contests. I know the first efforts would draw a small turnout, but if we tried this for a year or two we could see an increase from other modelers as they learn more about the contest. Club members would pay $1 for every model they enter, while non-dues paying members would pay $2. This would offset the cost of the prizes, perhaps gift cards or something they could use to further their hobby, for the top three finishers at each contest. This would serve to not only bring in other modelers but also to help our own members to learn more about judging. If the contest grew and we began to see a consistently larger number of entries we could begin to break the models into classes as they are needed.
When I first joined a model club, Central Arkansas Modelers Society (CAMS), way back in 1977 I went to my first meeting after looking at the great models in the showcases at Jack’s Hobby Shop and talking to one or two of the club members while shopping there. I never really expected to win or anything, I knew my work was not as good as most of the models I had been looking at for the past months.
I joined CAMS because I enjoyed my hobby and I wanted to meet other folks that enjoyed the same hobby. But most of all I wanted to improve my work. I found that talking with these other modelers helped greatly, and I learned from modelers of all genres. The competition every month at CAMS did more than drive my efforts to improve more, I wanted to be able to hold my own and to win against some outstanding models, and I am glad I went to the meeting because of what I got from the other modelers and for the friends I made there. Maybe we can do the same for someone else.