I’ve had random hobby thoughts recently that seem to be related. Over the course of the last month, I’ve hosted an operating session, attended another operating session, and attended an NMRA division meeting. I intentionally altered my schedule to participate in these events. Why? I guess I would have just thrown out a simple, “Because it’s fun,” response in the past. But I’ve become keenly aware that personal participation in activities with other hobbyists directly effects my hobby enjoyment. It’s not just about listening to others talk about a specific subject but taking part in a conversational process that gives me a good feeling.
At the NMRA meetings, people bring models of freight cars, buildings, locomotives, and other objects. They discuss the techniques used in building, painting, or weathering the models and others ask questions or raise other techniques that worked for them on other builds. At operating sessions, the railroad runs a little differently every time. The duties may be similar but the actions are not a specific repeat from the previous session. There are also questions to ask and answer with the others in the crew. I enjoy learning from these experiences as well as helping others understand aspects that push their hobby efforts forward. It’s this give and take from interacting with others that has inspired my own model railroad efforts.
I experience a similar effect with a band of email friends who all have an interest in the railroads of the pre-Depression Era. We share info, techniques, old photos, the latest efforts from the hobby bench, and historical data each week. Each of us have a specific interest and skill set that we share with the rest of the crew. We have a lot of laughs along the way. This group is spread across the country and we hardly get real visits with each other, but we find more hobby enjoyment because of what we have learned together. Some of their work has been featured here on the blog.
While much of our hobby activity is based on solitary efforts, it is the interaction with others that can keep our projects moving forward. Whether you are bouncing an idea or two around with friends via email, or attending an NMRA or RPM event, or hosting a work session on your own railroad with other modelers, participation with others can increase your enjoyment of a great hobby. Take advantage of easy communications, local modelers, and hobby events to expand your horizons. We humans are a social bunch and we tend to learn more together than alone. Model railroading has so many fascinating elements to share that we cannot fail to learn a few nuggets, or share some info, with others we meet along the way.
The October calendar has a couple great events coming up. First up is one of the longest running prototype modeler meets in the country, the 21st annual RPM-Naperville Conference. This will be held in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Illinois, October 9 – 11, 2014. This event was once hosted by Sunshine Models and now Joe D’Elia runs the show. It’s one of the premier events on the hobby calendar, especially for those interested in prototype modeling. I attended the 2005 event and came home full of hobby inspiration and ideas. Check out the website for more details.
Another RPM meet is set for Scotch Plains, NJ, October 25 & 26, 2014. The New Jersey Layout Design/Operations Special Interest Group and RPM Meet offers a combined event to set your hobby wheels in motion. The registration costs are one of the best hobby deals in New Jersey. Check out the event details on their website.