This summer Rocketry Organization of California has marked it’s 20th year of launches at Lucerne Dry Lake and supporting rocketry activity in southern California. We just hosted a successful ROCstock launch and some good smaller monthly launches as well. The ROC board of directors recently met to discuss the past, present and future of the club, and some of the challenges that lay ahead. This seemed like a good time for me to share with you, the members and friends of ROC, some thoughts about the status of the club and how we can keep it running well.
It was clear from our board retreat discussions that when it comes to some issues, there is a wide and divergent range of opinions. For example, some people’s ideal vision of ROC is of a large and diverse organization engaged in a wide range of public outreach and educational activities, reaching out to youngsters and newcomers as well as supporting the community of elite high power flyers. For others, it is more important to focus on doing fewer things better, and to concentrate on the needs of our core membership. Key to the future of the club’s long term health and continued growth will be to strike a proper balance between these sometimes conflicting ideals.
One area however, where there is not disagreement is in the matter of club involvement. It can’t be overemphasized by those of us that have been associated with the club for some time that ROC is not a service, it is a club. Although some of our “daily members” who pay their launch fees on a month-to-month basis may treat it as a “pay to play” service, that’s not how it works. ROC is a member-driven volunteer organization that lives and dies based on the willingness of its members to step up and participate.
Like any sizable organization, ROC benefits from the special talents and expertise of its members who bring their particular skills and talents to the table. But it’s not wise or fair to exclusively rely on those critical individuals to be able or willing to do those jobs always and forever. To remain healthy, ROC needs to cycle in new knowledge and enthusiasm to keep the flame burning. I have not personally always been involved in ROC’s governance, but after flying with the club for a few years and seeing the roles played by the founding and core members, I realized that I needed to contribute as well and as they say, “pay it forward”.
As many people no doubt also feel, I didn’t at first think I knew enough to contribute meaningfully. Of course, this was not true; not only could I contribute in areas that I did have some talents, but I also quickly learned new things that helped the club along the way. (I’m always quite amused when someone acts as though I’m some kind of expert by virtue of being the current ROC president; in fact I’m just as clueless as the next person, but I’m trying to act like I know what I’m doing!)
A common misconception is that in order to help ROC, you need to sacrifice your ability to enjoy our launches and fly your own rockets. In fact, all it takes is for each member to contribute just a little bit of time and most of our problems are solved. It might mean doing one small thing every month, or setting aside one month to contribute one larger task. It’s a little hard to list all the big and small ways in which we need members’ help, but I’ll take a shot at mentioning some of them in no particular order:
- towing the club trailer to/from launches
- running registration desk and taking money
- communicating with government (FAA, BLM, CSFM etc.) concerning permits, compliance and activities
- helping with club record keeping and calendar events/monthly responsibilities
- bidding and organizing for national events
- communicating with members via newsletters, social media, etc.
- training our fellow members in the technology and art of rocketry
- maintaining and repairing electrical and mechanical equipment
- range setup and teardown
- roaming range helper and safety assurance
- crowd and parking control at large launches
- RSO and LCO duties at launches
In just a few months, the terms of a few of our board members, including my own, will be expiring. I’ve served on the board for six years now, and although I’m not leaving ROC, I’m ready to pass the baton to the next group of ROC’s leaders. It has been fun, but the healthiest thing for ROC (and for me) will be to get some new ideas and leadership cycling through the board. I would like to personally appeal to each of you to consider running for one of the vacant board positions this fall. Look for an announcement coming out soon concerning the nomination and election procedure. Any of us on the board would be happy to answer your questions about the position, and offer our cheerful encouragement!