When I first started detecting I would sometimes run into another detectorist while hunting a school ground, park or beach. It was inevitable that we would take a few moments to chat, share finds, ideas, tips and sometimes even sites. I loved those meetings and conversations because up until then I had no one to share my hobby with. I was passionate about detecting, and finding someone else who felt the same was just great. One particular meeting at an old school led to the formation of a local club in Trenton, New Jersey. The individual I met was Ron Womer, and he was the first president. I am pleased to say the Mid-Jersey Research and Recovery Club is still going strong. It was also at during that period that I started writing an article or two for the various treasure magazines.
In April of 1983 I penned an article for Western & Eastern Treasures called "What the Future Holds for Treasure Hunting". The gist of my effort was to say we needed to start thinking about preserving our pastime. At that time various governmental bodies, both national and local, were starting to restrict our efforts. I wanted to see what other hobbyists thought, and to see if maybe there was a way we could actually get the ball rolling, organize and make out voices heard. Coin Collectors had the ANA, gun owners had the NRA, and we had nothing. I added my address to the article, and the response was pretty over whelming.
Then in November of the same year I wrote another article, "A National Organization, to Be or Not to Be". In between the first article and the second I had traveled to most every club in the northeast, speaking about the effort, and bringing them on board with the concept. At one meeting in Haddon Heights I met Harry Bodofsky, a member of the South Jersey Metal Detecting Club, and the president o of the First State Metal Detectors, in Wilmington, Delaware. Harry listened to my spiel, and suggested that perhaps getting clubs to form state associations would be the best route. It made a great deal of sense, and that became my passion for the next few months. More visiting clubs, and more talks took place. Finally, I had detectorists ready and willing to take on the challenge in the following states: New Jersey, Illinois, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas and Ohio.
The state concept worked for a while, but eventually some of the states just didn't respond as we had hoped. As a result we continued with our great group in the east, and we decided to become a regional association. We became the Federation of Metal Detector & Archaeological Clubs, and thanks to Sam Abramo, a detectorist and attorney, we incoporated. We met every month in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, and we started planning our future. We started our newsletter, The Quest, and sent them to each and every member of our organization. After the manufacturers took notice we begin receiving monetary donations towards our efforts, which included trying to bring more clubs into our fold.
We had our first Treasure Weekend in Atlantic City in 1985, and in 1986 it attracted well over 600 TH'ers along with all the manufacturers, treasure hunting greats, and our grand prize was a brand new Ford Mustang automobile. Some may boast of having the biggest treasure show in the country, but the Atlantic City events became legend. We had our seminars and banquets at the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino, and our hunt field (beach area) encompassed two full city blocks. We had TV coverage, and crowds lined up on the boardwalk watching our events take place. We didn't have to coax the manufacturers to attend after that....they looked forward to attending, and we were on a roll.
During my efforts to organize the pastime I received a letter from George McCrae, the CEO of White's Electronics, in Inverness, Scotland. He had heard of our efforts, and suggested we contact the National Council for Metal Detecting in the United Kingdom. The NCMD was a very well organized group of clubs and detectorists in England, and had great success dealing with the local governing bodies. George felt that they could give us direction in our efforts, and he was dead on. He put me in contact with John Howland, and Gerald Costello. John was chairman of the Special Purposes committee, and Gerald was the General Secretary, and they were kind enough to share info, and ultimately attend one of our Atlantic City Conventions. It was at this convention that we met with Don Cyr, president of the Canadian Metal Detecting Association, and formed the World Council for Metal Detecting.
Federation of Metal Detector & Archaeological Clubs, Inc.
With the encouragement, and monetary support of the US manufacturers we had our first formal meeting at Longleat Castle, near Bath, England, the following year, preceding the Longleat Rally. A total of 50 FMDAC detectorists went on this trip to England, particpated in the Rally, and in my opinion, it was the beginning of what is now considered a routine excursion by many detectorists here in the US. A big thank you to Melinda Hazelman for putting together this historic trip
The FMDAC, at it's peak, had about 180 clubs from across the country, and we were a very effective and viable group. With the help of the manufacturers we built up a legal fund, and tackled issues to ensure that metal detectorists would not be discriminated against. One of our major victories was overturning a no detecting ban in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, the largest city park in the United States. Through the efforts of a hired attorney, and countless meetings with the city council we came up with a permit system that allowed access to those who passed a very stringent recovery test.
A little aside here... When I began doing the FMDAC newsletter I received encouragement from Karl von Mueller. A few phone calls and letters later he was writing small blurbs for the Quest. He liked our effort and I appreciated his support. Later on I finally met Karl at the Lost Treasure Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event itself was one of those moments you will not forget.... I was walking the floor of the bourse or arena, and I noticed a quarter on the floor. I bent down to pick it up, and it started moving. Yep, I was had, and on the other end of the string was Karl with a big grin on his face. We chatted for a while and agreed to get together later after the show. His encouragement, his humor and his lively nature is something I will never forget.
In 1988 I accepted a position with Garrett Electronics in Garland, Texas. A decision that has caused me to review over and over it's merits, even to this day. Anytime you pick up your family and move them from their roots, it's traumatic. From New Jersey to Texas was extra traumatic. Anyway, when I left the FMDAC's reins were turned over to Emery Buziak, a very capable leader. Since that time the FMDAC has had many different presidents, officers, and has had it's up's and down's. I am proud to say however, that here in 2009 the organization celebrated it's 25th anniversary.... no small feat!
I still firmly believe in clubs, and recently wrote a Club News and Views column for Western and Eastern Treasures magazine. What bothers me however is the constant tug and pull between area clubs, their events, and the ongoing "we can do it better". I want to remind all of you that our hobby, our pastime, is not so big that we can afford to bicker among ourselves. You may want to believe otherwise, but our numbers are small. Extremely small. When I moved to Texas back in 1988, the south was still doing battle with the north, and to this day it hasn't changed. There are certainly differences. I can attest to that. What bothers me is that it's not getting any better, and eventually, in my opinion, we will be so divided that when it comes to really rallying our members, we will fail.
There are at least four other organizations out there, very similiar to the FMDAC. Most offshoots of clubs or individuals that did not see eye to eye with the organization for one reason or another. Not a big deal...that is to be expected, and certainly each of those groups is doing what they feel they have to. While I am still partial to the Federation, no one national organization is the right one, and each probably offers things of interest to it's members, but is it not possible for all these groups to meet, agree on a few standards, and then unite in some manner? I personally am tired of seeing the old "we posted that legislative alert first", or "our hunt is the biggest and the best". What does it really matter, as long as the information gets out there, and the event is successful. Stop please with the petty, childish, I can do it better competition. It doesn't do the pastime any good, and I find it embarrassing to see such posts on the various websites. Just my opinion....
Club Hunts... Far too many, all pretty much the same, and nothing unique anymore. Again just my opinion. While I understand that comraderie is the most important ingredient, somewhere along the way we have to consider costs. If you are doing well financially, these events are a lot of fun, and a chance to get away, doing something you really enjoy. On the other hand I find it hard to rationalize spending $100 for something that might offer a return of $20 or 30, assuming I do not win the detector. I say detector, because most, if not all the manufacturers, prefer to provide hunt packages, not detectors, and I cannot blame them. When we held the FMDAC hunts in Atlantic City we had up to twenty detectors to give away. There were of course many more detector companies back then, but in the years since, manufacturers decided that giving detectors away to "all" the many clubs or organizations was only hurting it's bottom line (especially their dealers).
Today I am not active in any local club, but wish them all well. They serve a purpose, and they can be a force to be reckoned with IF all the members get actively involved. Back in the early 80's I found that there was a groundswell for representation and support, and a real desire to be recognized. As a result the FMDAC took off. Unfortunately today that same desire and urgency had diminished because of the internet, and all the varied groups doing their own thing. Hopefully it will turn around, and those groups will find a way to join forces. It can only help.
To make your club a successful one, make it fun to belong. When you hold your monthly meetings don't get caught up in the "minutes from the last meeting" or "Robert's Rules" thing.... Make it a relaxed atmosphere, and make your members laugh. Not a jokester? Learn to be one. Make the monthly event one that every member doesn't want to miss. To do this, be sure you have great programs, great speakers, and lots of information to be to serve up. Might sound hard, but it really isn't. If you are stymied finding someone to speak at your monthly meeting, conisder the following: Coin collectors, local historians, precious metal dealers, local police, librarians, park rangers, researchers, and remember some of the best programs just might come from your very own members. Ask each of them to share their story. Why they got involved in the pastime, what was it that made them buy that first detector. What neat things have they found? What tips can they offer the club? What detector are they using now and why. What detectors have they used in the past?
If you are trying to promote your club I urge you to come up with a club display, backdrop, show fixture, whatever, and be present at all the local events in your area. Whether it's the bi-centennial celebration, the county fair, or the neighboring clubs annual hunt. Consider promoting your club at the local mall, downtown square, or library. You would be surprised at how many people are not familiar with you or your hobby. Promoting is good for your club, and it's good for the pastime. It's also brings in new members.
Be sure your club has a search team. One that can work with the local law enforcement agencies to help solve crimes. Nothing can promote or save your club from future difficulties than just such a group. One of the best I've found is the team from the PCSC in California. If you are intereseted in knowing more check out The Prospector's Club of Southern California and click on the Crime Search Unit link. Terrific group of people....
I have spent the past three or four weeks trying to come up with an accurate list of "viable" treasure clubs, both here in the states, as well as Canada and the UK. What I thought would be an easy task was not. I was amazed at how many club website links were non-existent, and how many clubs did not even have one.
I realize many of you belong to a small club, and the thought of producing a website seems ridiculous, but in today's world, it is important to let others know about your club, your efforts, and it need not be that expensive. I am willing to bet that in most every club there is someone who knows something about building a website. Your website does not have to be fancy, state of the art, or polished (take this one for example). Just one that will show your club off in the best possible way. It's can also be a gathering place for your members.
If you decide to put up a club website, be sure it tells about your club, when it began, how many members you have, when it meets, where it meets, and what special events you may be planning, and be sure it contains an email address for anyone interested in joining. Almost everyone today finds what they are looking for on the internet. If your club is not out there...take steps to make it happen. You won't be disappointed.
The following club listing is preliminary, and a work in progress. The reason I decided to put out there now is that I am hoping that any club who is not listed will email me with their website information, thus making the rest of my the effort easier. I am certain there are many, many clubs out there that I have left out. Contact me and I will add you. I want to add however that I want a real CLUB website, not a dealer page with a mention of a club.
Speaking of websites, I want to direct your attention to one that I really like, and I want to tell you why. The E.A.R.T.H. club is located in central New York, and meets at the Dunham Library in Whitesboro the last Monday of each month. While writing the Club News & Views for Western & Eastern Treasures, I was blown away by the club's activities, and it's ongoing efforts to promote their club, and as a result the hobby itself.
I also looked forward to receiving their newsletter, and I urge all of you to check them out at their website E.A.R.T.H.Club The website as well is top notch.
Now, the main reason I am taking about E.A.R.T.H. is because they have a sister club in the UK, the Weymouth/Portland club, and a member, Frank Long who contributes regularly to their newsletter (you can learn more about the Weymouth club by clicking on their website here.) What's so great about that? Well, first and foremost it promotes friendship and unity among those who love the treasure hunting pastime. Secondly, it's a chance to learn. To learn what detectorists in other countries are finding, what equipment they are using, and what problems they may be facing. It's a chance to bridge the gap, or in this case the ocean that separates us. A chance to forge a lasting friendship, and in the case of Chris Altmann, an E.A.R.T.H. member, a chance to travel and experience what others in the the world are finding.
Chris and his wife Kim first met Frank ("Dodger" as he is known as) and his wife Val in 2007, staying at their home in Weymouth. They visted again in 2008, and got to attend one of Weymouth club meetings, and to detect the surrounding countryside. Last year, 2009, Chris and Kim reciprocated,and hosted Frank and Val at their home in central New York, introducing them to the E.A.R.T.H. club, as well as taking them on a sight seeing trip along the eastern seaboard. This year Chris and Kim are looking forward to another trip to the UK, and not only to visit with Frank and Val, but also a side trip to Spain to visit their daughter who lives there.
There is absolutely nothing to lose by contacting a club overseas, and asking them to be part of YOUR club's newsletter, reciprocating by offering your input in theirs. There's also no guarantee that they will be interested in your offer, but I strongly suspect you will find a taker, and who knows, just maybe down the road the World Council for Metal Detecting can be resurrected!
If your club does not have a website, consider getting one soon. The internet is the way of the future, and having a working website will surely garner you more members, as well as more prestige in the community, and if you do have a website please be sure there's a way for the visitor to contact you. I was amazed at the number of club websites that did not have a method of contact, or if they did, it was invalid.
When you have time be sure to check out the Nor'easters Club. Located in Stamford, Connecticut, the club puts out a lot of information to it's members via their website (one of the best I've seen)... Jessie Thompson started the club in February of 2006, and it has grown leaps and bounds. Be sure to click on all the links.....Notes, permits, weather tides....all great stuff, and more importantly useful. Great job Jessie!
Hi, my name is Dee Sperling and I'm the webmaster for the Hood Canal Detectorists Club, and The Olympic Peninsula Treasure Hunters. Dick asked me to write an article to show how any Metal Detecting Club can have a web presence in just a few short hours, and hope the following helps in this regards. While I started creating websites many years ago using HTML, today I use the free - easy to use - Google sites services so that I still have time for work and play. My husband and I are new to metal detecting - only 3 years - but it has become an important part of our lives.
If you think you want a ".com" address, consider all the factors: a) getting a domain name; b) finding an ISP, with a good support staff to help you upload your pages; c) finding an easy to use program to create your site; d) all your website files will be stored on a member's computer so they will need to be backed up regularly. You will need to be sure you have a good policy in place to keep control of your domain name, site and files in case someone moves etc. There will be a monthly cost of $30-60 a month to consider as well.
If you choose Google Sites, the first thing you need to do is create a club @gmail.com address. There's a limit of 30 letters so try to make it as descriptive of your club name as possible. For Example: Club name of Northwest Treasure Hunters Club could be shortened to NW Treasure Hunters Club, but don't just use NWTHC. However, when you’re creating a password use your acronym as part of it to make it easy to remember and then be sure to file it with your club secretary if your webmaster needs to change later on.
Do your research! Check out other club sites. Think about what you like and what you don't.....
Watch the videos; take the hands on tutorials; check out the sample sites. Remember while there are lots of fancy features available, make sure the person who volunteers to create and upkeep your site has the time to do it all.
Finally print out the Getting Started Guide:
Answer all the questions before starting to put it together.
If you have other questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will try to answer them, and then have Dick post the answers as an addendum to this article so everyone can benefit.....
When I first started detecting back in the late 70's there were very few club hunts. At least club hunts open to others.... Mostly local clubs got together on a Sunday, detected a local park, had a picnic, and that was it. There were a few large hunts out there as in the International Treasure Hunters Championship, sponsored by Garrett Electronics. It attracted hundreds, and was a great event. Grand prize one year was a brand new pickup.
Today it seems as though every club has an open event, and unfortunately the attendance at these events keep dropping. The answer is really quite simple. The economy is bad, lots of people unemployed, gas is expensive and the price of silver is out of site.
So what is the answer? I don't know, but just maybe you all need to think about waiting a year or two to see where things stand. Hold you member hunts, and have fun with that, but trying to attract hundreds of others to your event is almost an effort in futility. More and more detectorists are starting to analyze the pro's and con's of these events, and more and more they are choosing to stay home, or become extremely selective about those they will attend. Hard to justify spending $100 for the entrance fee, $100 for lodging, $100 for gas, and maybe $50 for food, when you "might" come home with a few silver coins and "maybe" a detector"
Of course it's hard to put a price on the comraderie, and fun you will have, but again, given today's economic situation, it's becoming an easy choice for most to make.....
Harry Bodofsky and Cliff Steffens were in charge of the hunts for the FMDAC in the first few years, and they were terrific. They spent days and nights coming up with unique ideas and it wasn't unusual to get a call from them at 11PM, asking me what I thought of this or that. They were not only gathering prizes, they were coming up with off-the-wall ways to win them. Can remember Harry closing out our Atlantic City banquet with a warning to all who were in the hunt the next day....."Look at everything you dig tomorrow, and be careful what you throw away". Why did he say this? Because many of the better prizes were only winnable by having pulltabs, bottlecaps that were colored, and/or numbered.
Each year Harry and Cliff would bury bags of coins, obtained from the bank. A $50 bag of uncirculated pennies would always throw off that hunter who wanted to bypass that very large signal. We gave away detectors, motor scooters, TV's, gold coins, treasure chests filled with cash, and one year a brand new Ford Mustang. What made that grand prize so interesting is that we buried twenty numbered tokens, all worth a shot at winning the car. The token numbers were called out, the holder had to choose a key from twenty in a bowl (only one would work). Believe it or not the winner was the 18th token called (I was sweating bullets that something had gone awry).
If you have a suggestions on how to make these events more affordable and more fun email me and let me know.
For those of you who watched the Joe Cook "Christmas Present Search" video (see September 22nd posting) here is the 2nd one he sent. It's from the the 1989 FMDAC Treasure Weekend in Atlantic City. Because of it's length it's in three parts (thanks Peter Cook). Also, because of when it was taken the quality is not as sharp.
The first two parts are seminars from the day session, with talks by Rod Hamilton (Tesoro), Charles Garrett, Gerald Costello (NCMD/UK) and yours truly (my 2nd year with Garrett). Part three centers on the Saturday evening banquet, and if you watch nothing else be sure to watch the hilarious video that Joe Cook presented. When I first saw it I laughed till it hurt, and when I watched it again last week I was still hurting. Absolutely one of the funniest bits I've seen....
I was unaware that this video existed, and can't thank Joe enough for sending. Old farts enjoy looking back....
It's my sincere wish that the various associations, federations, etc., will somehow find the time and the willingness to sit down and talk about our pastime. If not it might not be around ten years from now. There's a whole lot of common ground, trust me!