You know what one of the best things about being in the NMRA is? I bet you thought I would say the AP Program! No, that’s the second best thing. The best thing is members helping members. In general I think model railroaders like sharing and helping others. In other subjects there is often a mystery or a it’s secret how someone does something but not in this hobby! At least not usually. We like to share and help each other. In fact, every AP Certificate you earn, on the form you sign saying that you have done the work you are also signing to say you will help others: “I certify that I have completed all of the requirements for this Certificate of Achievement as listed above and that I will agree to assist other members in this subject whenever possible, whether or not they are participants in the Achievement Program.”
That is the best part about filling out the paperwork when completing all the work necessary for a particular certificate. When I sign my name next to the statement that says I will “assist other members in this subject whenever possible, whether or not they are participants” in the AP I take that very seriously. I know, as I have said before, that by being involved in the AP it has helped me to grow and expand my talents and interests. By no means would I consider myself an expert in a category even after receiving a certificate in that area. I know, however, that I have studied and learned some things that I had not known about before I started in that area.
I am definitely willing to help others when they have questions. I know that I am not alone. Nearly every railroad modeler I know is also willing to help. Yes, we all have time constraints with other duties for family and work but when they are able to they are very willing to share what they know.
One of the fun ways to see, be inspired by what others have done and get to ask questions of others is at layout tours. Over the last five years I have seen some great layouts in the Northern Utah Division! I really enjoy the opportunity to get to know the people a little better and get ideas for what I might do someday. It is really cool to see first hand how someone “tackled” an issue and talked with them about it instead of just reading an article in a magazine. We have had good success in the past with lots of people attending but lately it seems fewer people are going. Even if I find it a little inconvenient I make a great effort to be there. I know the layout owner has spent a lot of time preparing for visitors. Plus, I learn a lot from every layout I visit and it is always, no matter what, one of the best activities I get to do each month! If you have suggestions on ways to make it better let any one of the Board Members know your thoughts. You can always send me an email too or use the Contact Us link on our website.
According to the NMRA website, the AP is like “a travel guide[book], to help you on your journey through the world of model railroading.” If that is so, guess who the guides are? They are you and me. We each have something to share with one another and as we do we can enjoy the journey together.