My most frequent and reliable partner in the school presentation team has been Arska, OH2EC. He has been a constructor all his life. He retired from Nokia Mobile Phones some years ago after having installed dozens of mobile networks around the globe. Arska and I share devotion in youth training. It is a happy coincidence that his experience and skills in the art of electronics construction add to my assets in operating and DXing. We strongly feel that together we can cover different aspects of Amateur Radio much better in our presentations than doing it separately.
Arska lives in a small town Järvenpää about 40 km NE from Helsinki. There is an active club OH2AP. After more than a year of visiting schools in different towns we decided to try to establish an electronics construction and Amateur radio club in a school quite near of Arska´s home. His son had been a pupil of that school so he knew it quite well. In May 2010, I sent an email to the headmaster and to our delight she took very positive stand to our proposal. The vice-headmaster, who also was a teacher of technical work (wood and metal crafting), assumed the responsibility to contact the parents and get their permission to allow the kids to participate in the club. He sent out the inquiries in October after the school building had been repaired. Serious damages to the roof were found as a result of heavy snow load during the winter, hence the delay in starting the club.
We were quite astonished when the vice-headmaster told that he had received 19 applications from parents asking their children to be admitted in the club. It was good that Esa, OH2AWG, who lives very close to the school, joined our team. Now we had three instructors which was a reallygood thing. Nevertheless, the sheer number of pupils was quite frightening – how could we maintain discipline in the class with 19 kids asking for our attention to their needs and problems?
The club started after the autumn holidays and 11 pupils showed up. We had agreed to have the club open every Wednesday from 3 to 5 pm, right after school day. First I showed the interesting RSGB video “What is Amateur Radio?” and showed what it really is by letting every pupil make at least one QSO on the radio. Some were very brave and we could see that we had potential radio operators in the club. Others were not so brave at the radio but they came forward when we asked everybody about earlier experience in electronics constructing. There were several who had got electronics kits as Christmas gifts but had experienced some problems in getting them working properly.
Now we had the stage ready for serious club meetings. Arska and Esa took care of the electronics part of our programme while I told about Amateur Radio in general terms. I had received lots of colourful QSL cards from different countries from some older hams who did not collect QSLs anymore. The cards instantly became much sought-after items among the young members of the club.
After some months, in February 2011, I organized an intensive training course at the local club OH2AP during the skiing holiday. The most active member of the school club, 9‑year old Oliver, joined the course. After five long days of studying he was ready to take the Basic class exam and yes, he became the youngest ham in Finland as OH2FYA his call sign – quite a feat! The school club continued till the end of May and another 10-year member of the club, Tommi, had passed the Radio Law, Amateur Radio Regulations and Traffic module of the Basic class exam while having a break in electronics kit assembling. The fifth SRAL youth training camp was organized right after school ended and we were pleased to have three members of the club — Oliver, Tommi and Joona — joining the camp. Tommi became OH2FYY in the end of the camp and Oliver did it again – he passed the Amateur Extra exam and became the youngest Extra class ham in Finland.
There is an explanation behind this success: both Oliver and Tommi are students of SRAL youth instructor Mari, OH2FPK, who devotes her time also to teaching young boys the martial art of taido. They all share the principle of doing everything in their life at the highest possible level. This quality of character is called determination and may be found among people whatever their age is. Welcome Oliver and Tommi in our ranks!