2017 FIELD DAY was June 24-25.
Field Day is an annual event conducted by the American Radio Relay League, an umbrella national organization of which the BEARS are an affiliated club.
On the fourth full weekend of every June, hams all over the US take their radios and antennas to an unprepared site and practice operating "off the grid." This is a test of our ability to conduct emergency communications without attaching to the power grid and without using permanently installed antenna structures.
(Same idea as an army "M-A-S-H" unit only for radio operators.)
For a 24-hour period, each local club participates in a national contest. Points are awarded for making the most contacts over the air, using multiple modes, reaching multiple states, passing formal messages, including local public safety and elected officials, getting publicity, and informing the public. Extra credit is given for operating entirely from solar power, getting unlicensed visitors on the air and other activities. At the end of the event, each club tallies their points and submits their activity logs to get credit for their efforts, and the rankings are eventually published in QST magazine.
The purpose of this event is to polish our operating skills and test our equipment. Because the maximum number of hams are on the air during a very concentrated time period, it becomes important to learn how to get a message through the huge pileups and interference. This tests our familiarity with the less-often used controls on our radios such as exotic filters and noise blankers. It also tests our patience and courtesy, and hones our reflexes.
It also tests our ability to design and erect the most efficient possible antennas, so we can pull in weak signals, broadcast effectively using the minimal amount of power, and not interfere with the many other antennas in close proximity at our field day site.
Last but not least, we share communal meals during Field Day, camp out overnight, and generally have an extraordinary amount of fun while practicing our hobby.