Be an Elmer

In amateur radio slang an "Elmer" is a person who helps novices learn and grow their expertise. It's a funny term for a mentor and I always assumed that it dated back to the early days of the hobby, like the much-dreaded "Wouff-Hong" and "Rettysnitch". So I was surprised to learn from [1] that:

The term "Elmer"—meaning someone who provides personal guidance and assistance to would-be hams—first appeared in QST in a March 1971 "How's DX" column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB). Newkirk called them "the unsung fathers of Amateur Radio." While he probably was not trying to coin a term at the time, here's how Newkirk introduced "Elmer" in his column and, as it turned out, to the rest of the Amateur Radio world:

"Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: 'Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'"

Newkirk went on to say, "We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh."—Rick Lindquist, N1RL

It's fun to be an Elmer, and anybody can do it in any field—knitting, contract bridge, gardening ... or in my case ultrarunning, where in recent years I've snookered several friends into going out long. And of course the benefits go not just to the newbie when the Great Game remains young and fresh ...

^z - 2009-09-05