Santa Clara County ARES®/RACES
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Pop-Up Message Passing Practice & Outdoor Exercise



Outdoor Exercise

  • This event is an Outdoor Exercise activity. Outdoor exercise is considered an essential activity under the Santa Clara County stay at home order.
  • Attendees will walk (or bike) about 1/2 mile (a leisurely 10 minute walk) to the practice area along a paved bike trail. Then they will take a break while practice their message passing while maintaining social distancing. Finally, they will walk (or bike) back to their vehicle.

Message Passing Practice

  • Pop-up Message Passing Practice is a quick, simple, fun way to practice proper message passing procedures. It doesn't have the formality of typical drills/exercises. You go, you do, and you leave. What differentiates it from practicing at home (which we should all do, right?!) is you get direct, individualized coaching and feedback.
  • Why do this? We have observed that operators can have difficulty making the transition from classroom learning to actually passing messages on the air. So, this practice is designed to give participants an opportunity to put into practice what they learned in the classroom without the complexity and overhead usually associated with more complicated drills or exercises. Think of it as the lab part of a lecture/lab combination course.
Scenario: You'll be paired with a coach and will send and receive several different types of messages over the air to/from another operator.
Intended Audience: Anyone involved in SCCo ARES/RACES that meets the prerequisites below. Passing messages for 3rd parties is an essential part of what we do and, frankly, it's most of what we do at EOCs, DOCs and command posts. So, it's essential that EVERYONE develop this basic skill set.

There are five different roles in this activity:

  • Participants
    • These are the folks who will be practicing message passing.
    • Sign up for and operate for one hour: 0900-1000, 1000-1100, 1100-1200
  • Staff
    • Operate from 0900-1200
    • Coaches
      • Accomplished message passing operators who will provide one-on-one support and direction as the participant operates the radio
    • Simulators
      • Exchange messages with participants
    • Check-in
      • Manages the check-in/out desk and helps organize participants before and after each shift
    • Event IC
      • Supervises the entire activity

The prerequisites for each role are as follows:

Location & Directions:

Hellyer County Park
985 Hellyer Ave.
San Jose, CA 95111

The Velodrome Entrance is closed. Enter at the Cottonwood Entrance.

The usual $6 vehicle entry fee charged by County Parks is currently suspended. We expect it will continue to be suspended on 5/30. But if this changes, the fee is an individual responsibility.

Park at the first available location. Then use this annotated map of the park to walk to the Coyote Creek Trail. Stay on Coyote Creek Trail (a paved bike trail), which will take you under Hellyer Avenue, past some picnic areas, and across Coyote Creek (where the trail briefly joins with the road). After crossing the creek, follow the paved street to the right of the velodrome and to the practice area.

Restrooms are available at the Velodrome. See the above map.


See the sign-up page for schedule info.

Be sure to allow time to walk (or bike) to the practice area and still arrive prior to your scheduled shift:

  • Participants:
    • Arrive at the practice area at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time slot
    • You are welcome to stay and observe after your time slot is finished
  • Coaches, Simulators, Check-in
    • Arrive at the practice area least 30 minutes before the start of the activity. There will be a short briefing.



The next practice session will be:

  • Saturday, May 30, 2020
  • Hellyer County Park
  • To sign up, click here

If all slots are full, or if you do NOT have the necessary prerequisites but would still like to participate, you can sign up on the waiting list. If a space is available, priority will be given to those with prerequisites, and then on a first come, first served basis.


All attendees need to bring the following items:

  • Mask
    • If you don't have one, we can provide one when you reach the practice area
    • Wear the mask when in proximity of others, such as when the the coach and participant are operating
  • A small backpack or other means to carry:
    • All standard Go Kit Forms
    • Your HT (a headset is highly recommended)
    • Sufficient extra batteries to last for the duration of your shift
    • Clipboard and pen
  • Folding chair (something that is easy to carry) or a small blanket or tarp to sit on the grass
  • Sun protection, such as a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen
    • The practice area has lots of shade, so we should be mostly out of direct sunlight

No vests

  • Do NOT wear your safety vest. We will not be "gathering" and we don't want to give some busy-body the impression that we are.

No Tents or Tables

  • Do not bring any tents or tables (folding or otherwise) or other equipment.

No AC Power

  • There will be no AC power available. Remember, this is supposed to be quick and easy.
  • Be sure you have sufficient battery power in your HT for low power operations for your shift. Bring a backup battery and/or HT, just in case.

Will be provided when you arrive. Be sure you know how to configure your radio from the keypad or front panel (no computer).

Evaluations: No credential evaluations will be offered

Follow all standard personal and RF safety procedures, plus:

  • Watch for trip hazards, such as gopher holes
  • Follow normal safety precautions for an outdoor environment
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat for protection from the sun

Follow all recommendations from health officials

  • Do not come if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you are in the higher risk category (age 65 and over, have other medical issues), it's best to stay home
  • Practice social distancing (maintain at least 6 feet separation from others) at all times
  • Wear a mask when near others (coaches and participants need to wear masks)
    • If you don't have a mask, we can supply one when you reach the practice area

Suggestion for getting the most out of the practice session:

  • Carefully review the Message Passing course materials before coming to the activity (see links above)
  • If you have questions about the materials, ask them on our Training discussion group
  • If you have questions or feedback about this or other training activities, you can join our Training discussion group and ask your question there.
  • For more information about all of our discussion groups, visit our Discussion Groups page.


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This page was last updated on 26-Mar-2020