After the 2008 CQ WW SSB contest at TI5N in Costa Rica,
Keko Diez (TI5KD), Don DuBon (N6JRL), Todd DuBon (KD4YHY), Cliff
Mikkelson (N0ZUQ-SK), Dave Kalter (KB8OCP-SK), and Jim Storms
(AB8YK) were reviewing the contest. The discussion evolved into
what it would be like to have youth on the team. That birthed
the Youth DX Adventure. When Dave Kalter becoming a silent key,
we renamed the effort the Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX
In 2010, the first trip to TI5N hosted six youth, one parent, and leaders. A lot has happened since then. Additional trips to TI5N in 2011 and 2012 consisted of six youth. In 2013, our host, Keko, had a stroke and was no longer able to accommodate our effort. A search was conducted for a new site and there was no 2013 trip. The Caribbean Contesting Consortium (PJ2T) came to our rescue, and we were able to have the 2014 trip to their site. Unfortunately, there is limited housing so we had to downsize the effort to three youth. In 2015, there was not a site available so we cancelled that trip. 2016 saw us able to travel to Saba Island to the site owned by Jeff Jolie (NM1Y). Again, the housing is such that three youth were able to make the trip, and we operated at PJ6Y. Byron Swainey (TI5/WA8NJR) hosted the 2017 trip to Costa Rica on top of a mountain. Again, we were able to take three youth on the trip. For the years of 2018 and 2019, PJ2T was once again the location for the trip, and we operated as PJ2Y. Of course, everyone knows that the years 2020 and 2021 were the COVID years and no trip was possible due to travel restrictions.
That brings us to 2022. Once again, the fine folks
of PJ2T agreed to host us. Three youth made the trip and
operated again as PJ2Y. The team quickly gelled and set their
sight on breaking the all-time QSO record for our trips. The
2019 trip had set the record at 6,583 QSOs including FT8. It
became evident quickly that this 2022 team was exceptional. They
took off running and never looked back. Overcoming power outages
and other issues, they ended making 8,216 contacts without any
FT8 due to technical problems.
That is a lot of history and the effort required for these trips is big. The participants must pay for their way to our US departure site and varies depending on their home location. From the US departure site and back, is paid for by us. So, a lot of fund-raising is required and there are many organizations, clubs, and individuals that contribute making it successful. As everyone knows, costs continue to increase. We continue to look for additional sites where we can operate.
Why do we do this? Several of us take our vacation time to oversee this effort. Our host provides the site at a reduced or expenses-only cost. However, the biggest reason is the youth! Several participants have gone on to advance in their Amateur careers. There have been a number of Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year winners, ARRL Youth awards, presenters at Carole Perry Youth Forums, leaders in College Ham Radio Clubs, involvement in AMSAT, and many other areas of Amateur Radio clubs. One trip even resulted in an all-youth team operating in a contest from Tim Duffy’s (K3LR) station.
What does it mean to the youth that go on these trips?
TJ Hardin (KO4FFA) writes, “ I am really thankful
for the opportunity to have gone on the trip to Curaçao with the
Dave Kalter Memorial YDXA. Not only did it give me more
experience in a contesting-style environment, but it connected
me with more youth in the hobby. It strengthened my vision for
the future of amateur radio, and it is my hope that this legacy
will continue. Even after my time in Curaçao, I still connect
often with Brennan and Candace, and I am very grateful to have
met them. Jim, Ron, Don, Geoff, and Uli were all great hosts and
Elmers guiding us throughout the entire trip. I hope that many
more youth operators will continue to have as much fun as we did
on this trip and develop bonds of their own.“
Brennan Long (K6BFL) writes, “It is easy to say that the YDXA trip to Curacao changed my life. Coming back from the trip, my passion for amateur radio reach an all-time high, I met TJ and Candace, who I am still in contact with today, and learned more from the short trip than I have in my entire ham radio career. The trip opened many doors for me, and I am very grateful to have been selected to go and was able to go, despite the challenges with the coronavirus.”
Candace Scott (KE8MMS) writes, “I had a wonderful time in Curaçao! I met Brennan and TJ who helped me feel more in my realm. I didn’t have a lot of contesting experience, but everyone helped me get better and better. There were so many times I didn’t want to get off the radio! From dealing with a solar flare and power outage, to enjoying the view and pool, we had a blast! I appreciate the Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX Adventure and would recommend it to any youth (especially girls!) looking to advance their hobby of ham radio.”
Bryant Rascoll (KG5HVO) writes, “What an amazing event you guys put on for us youth! After reflecting on last week, I realized I experienced some things that I wouldn’t normally experience operating from the states. On CW, I learned that when the pileups grew too big for a single frequency, narrowing the filter to about 100hz-200hz and fine tuning for callers with the RIT made sorting out calls much easier than waiting for some randomly loud station. It was also really cool to experience propagation on bands that I normally don’t operate on like 30, 17, and 12m. The 12m opening on Thursday was surprisingly productive with callers from both coasts. Before the trip, I think I had only made about 20 QSOs on 12m. I normally operate only low power so experiencing the intensity of a big DX station really helped me gain knowledge and confidence.” His mother, Lauren, wrote that since the trip, Bryant has been on fire for Amateur Radio and was a turning point in his Ham career.
The Dave Kalter Youth DX Adventure is fully
supported by donations from clubs, individuals, and businesses.
Many clubs donate to the effort and there a few that make
significant contributions. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association
has and continues to support us in a major way with the largest
amount and advice. Dayton Hamvention provides us booth space.
Major clubs also support us such as INDEXA, XWARN, PCARS,
SWODXA, and many others. We do not desire to leave anyone out of
the list and appreciate all donations both large and small. All
clubs, businesses, and individuals that donate are listed on our
QSL card each year regardless of amount. We appreciate and value
all donations and don't want to leave anyone out of the list but
space here does not permit us to list all.