Mentoring Help for New Hams
The Club provides a voluntary list of local Amateur Radio operators who have a willingness to assist new ham radio enthusiasts in learning more about the hobby and help when questions/difficulties arise. You might have heard the term in the ham radio vernacular calling this mentoring of new ham operator "Elmering", and those people who assist the new hams being called "Elmers". This is simply "ham-speak" for mentoring.
There has been a bit of question as to why we sometimes use the term mentor as opposed to the "traditional" term "Elmer". Ham radio does have its share of tradition and lore, and to a lot of folks it seems that we are breaking from tradition and discarding the affectionate term Elmer. Not so. Most folks outside of Amateur Radio do not recognize what an Elmer is, but they do know what a mentor is. Because our Club's program is geared toward the new ham we don't want to confuse anyone so we will call it mentoring.
Now that we know that mentoring and "elmering" is the SAME exact thing, let's take a moment to learn where the term Elmer is derived.
Origin of the term "Elmer"
The term "Elmer" --meaning someone who provides personal guidance and assistance to would-be hams (and newly licensed hams)-- first appeared in the American Radio Relay Leagues' Journal QST in a March 1971 "How's DX" column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB). Newkirk called them "the unsung fathers of Amateur Radio." While he probably was not trying to coin a term at the time, here's how Newkirk introduced "Elmer" in his column and, as it turned out, to the rest of the Amateur Radio world:
"Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: 'Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'" Newkirk went on to say, "We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh." -- ( info provided by Rick Lindquist, N1RL)
As you can see, the term "Elmer" is not very old. Prior to the first use of Elmer as the one who guided and encouraged us, what were these folks called? There have been a lot of suggestions; teacher, mentor, tutor, guide, helper, sage? All of those are appropriate but our best guess would be that, first and foremost, they were called friend.
So we will likewise say, first and foremost, "Welcome to the hobby, friends!".
Send your request to email@example.com and it will be sent to our group of Elmer volunteers. One will respond to you as soon as possible.
Additional Mentors are Welcome and Needed
If you are willing to be added to the list of volunteer mentors, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dixie Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 2196, St George, UT 84771-2196