The next thing you need to do is start your paper trail. There are a few documents that you will need in order to get the club registered and to get a club call sign. We suggest that you start an "official" club binder and keep either the original (or copies) of these important documents. This binder should include (at least): your club constitution, your club by-laws, club meetings notes, copies of your filings with the FCC, and copies of your filings with ARRL.
Note: If you do not have your Amateur License yet, you cannot file for your club call sign. The "Trustee" of the club, must have a registered and current, FCC Amateur Radio License. It does not matter what level. So if you did not get yours yet, don't file the FCC or ARRL paper work. So, just stop right now, find a local club, and get your Technician License before you file your paperwork.
1. Create your Club Constitution
You can start your club without having your call sign in place, but in order to begin the club activities, you will need a club constitution. The school district that we worked with also accepted this as a formal document to create the club at the school. Check with your Board of Education to see what requirements your school needs in order to create your club.
For more details on a club constitution and how to write one, ARRL provides and example that can be used to create an Amateur Radio club constitution. You can see if this document is enough information that you need with your school district.
2. Start Up Your Club - Have a meeting
Once you have approval form your school board, you can get your club started. Although you are forming and creating an Amateur Radio Club, it is still a school club and there are a lot of factors that go with that. Amateur Radio teachings and testing will be part of your club, but if you don't have a strong club membership, all of this is just a waste of time. Creating your club, meeting, working together for common goals, fundraising, and many other things are important for the survival of your program. You can start meetings and having social activities before you get "On-The-Air" so to speak. For some more suggestions of starting you club, check out How to Start a Club in High School: 8-Step Guide by SAT/ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.
Make sure that during your regular meetings, either you or your elected/appointed secretary takes notes of the meeting. These notes are important since they will be filed with your Constitution and By-Laws. Some school clubs require that regular meeting notes are taken at each meeting anyways, but this is additional paper work that will help take some of the burdens off of you.
Your first meeting should have minutes recorded of the club adopting the constitution and electing your club officers. Under new business, you should discuss modifications to the by-laws and when these suggestions should be submitted to the Executive Committee for review and approval.
If you are not familiar with meeting minutes and the appropriate way to document meetings. Don't worry, here is a template you (or your club secretary) and use and adopt for your club. It is important to keep meeting minutes. You can always go back and review when things were discussed and when things were approved.
3. Start A Club Rules and/or Handbook
So, you have your constitution in place, why do you need a handbook? Well, quite simply, the constitution will serve as the formal document outlining your club, but your handbook will be used for all of the fun and activities you will have with your club.
As you learn more about the world of Amateur Radio, you will find out that there are activities that clubs can participate in that are simply amazing. We will be adding some example to The Bacon Station later, but it is not possible to have all of this information within your club constitution. It would make it too cumbersome to those not in the know, and would cloud the point and purpose of your club in the first place.
This is where you have a membership handbook. When you have your first meeting, mention to the Executive Board and to the membership, certain things that have to be worked out and brainstormed, such as... maybe your club has an internal contest, such as awarding a certificate to the person with the most service hours in the club, or maybe you develop a point system and the students can have a contest to see who collects the most points in a month. In the future, you can award points for having them check into the club NET or participating during a Hamfest, or even proving the club with a presentation. All of these little details should go into your handbook so that each member knows the rules and are aware of the activities.
This can be a printed handbook or you can keep it electronic or even on the club's website. We have chose to post it on the club's website. We did this for 3 reasons. First, to keep the costs down for copying and being Eco-friendly. Second, this is a technology related club, the members should know how to use the Internet. Third, we thought that by having this information out there for the public, maybe it can be used as a marketing tool to draw in more members.
4. File with FCC to Get Your Club Call Sign
Once you have your Amateur License, you can then file for your club call sign. You are going to need at least one other person to sign the form as well. This should be one of your board members from the club, and they will have to have their license as well. You are going to want to use ARRL VEC FORM 605-C for this filing. This is a very simple form, and there is an address at the bottom of page 2 where to mail it in once you have it filled out.
Note: In the US, there are three FCC-approved Club Station Call Sign Administrators (CSCSA). This FCC page lists the three CSCSAs. We used ARRL, but all three are equally good.
In order to form the club, you need to have 4 (or more) licensed operators. These can also be the board members of the club. A licensed operation can only be the trustee of one club, but amateur radio operators can be members of as many clubs that they want. You can read more about club call signs on ARRL's website.
6. Apply for a Club Vanitry Call Sign (Optional)
Similar to getting your new license, your club will be assigned a sequential call sign. If you do not want to use that call sign for your club, then you are gong to want to file for a Vanity Call sign. Just keep in mind, this is going to take another 18 days to obtain, so try to file as soon as you get your club call sign.