Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Canadian Islands Award Program

Every summer for the past four years the ham radio group I belong to has activated several islands. Last summer was no different, we activated five of the Canadian Islands around the Kingston area over a two month period. According to what records we could find most of them had not been activated for several years, and a one had never been activated at all. This was done so we could take part in the Canadian Islands Award Program.

It was a lot of fun, the days were hot and sunny, but there always seemed to be a good breeze blowing of the St. Lawrence or Lake Ontario to keep us cool and the bugs down while we operated.  It's a great way to keep hone your portable operating skills.

What amazed us was the demand for these islands. On one remarkable Sunday afternoon we worked hundreds of stations calling us as we operated portable on Simcoe Island. In fact at one point we did 139 contacts in 58 minutes after some kind soul spotted us on the DX Cluster. It was a great afternoon.

This coming summer will be no different for us, we already have plans to activate three islands- Milton, Garden, and Iroquois Islands. Milton has never been activated before so we are expecting a good response to its activation.

The downside to all this is that the management of the Canadian Islands Award Program does not do a good job in promoting the activity. Last year we sent in five activation notices to the webmaster to be placed on their news page. Not one of our activation notices was ever dealt with, or posted on their website, and we have since heard from several fellow activators who have had a similar experience.

Now I did complain via email to the program manager and coordinator, and he kindly phoned me in return and we had a splendid chat about several issues. I understand that these guys are volunteers and that they do this in their spare time….Don't get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with this. But come on, if you’re going to run an award program at least keep your website up-to-date, and list upcoming activations so that the ham community can see what is going on.

It’s been nine months today since the website was last up-dated, and in fact one page, the “Activators & Chasers & Expeditions” hasn’t been up-dated since 25 April 2004!! It’s one hell of a way to run an award scheme, in fact it looks like the award scheme is actually dead from the way the website looks.

The Canadian Islands Award Program is something Canadian hams should be proud of, it showcases our outdoors in all its glory. 

The Americans have the US Islands Award Program as well. Here’s a link to their website...............quite a difference eh?