Every Saturday about midnight, rain or shine, a game of Bunny
is played within a 196-square-kilometer area of Strathcona County.
To the uninitiated it may seem sinister, even crazy. But to members of the Strathcona Radio Volunteers it's just a way of having fun and honing their radio communications skills, says club president Bill Neil.
Bunny, or hide-and-seek, is a game in which a designated volunteer finds a well camoflaged hiding spot. He transmits over a CB (citizen's band) radio at regular intervals to give seekers an opportunity to try and get a fix on the transmitter's location.
Getting a proper fix depends in part on how well the seeker knows his receiving equipment and how well the hider has disguised his radio transmitter. The game can last anywhere from a few minutes to a maximum two hours. After two hours the game is called, regardless of whether or not it was a successful search, says Neil.
"One of the objects of the exercise is to throw seekers off (the track)," he says.
Bunny search stories tell of successful camoflages. Seekers have been within touching distance of a transmitting vehicle without detecting it - a little embarrassing for the seeker and a compliment to the hider, says Neil.
The reward to a successful seeker is a stuffed toy rabbit.
The skills the radio volunteers exercise during the game of Bunny have helped them assist in varied, sometimes demanding, missions. The Strathcona Radio Volunteers assisted rescuers and victims of the Edmonton-and-area tornado in 1987, and they provided communications for the Alberta Summer Games in Strathcona County a week later.
The club has also been part of successful search teams locating lost children.
Some less intense duties include marshalling at triathlons and
acting as parking lot marshalls for community events.
The dozen-or-so active men and women in the club work an average of one scheduled event a month.
Halloween is another time for radio volunteers to have fun and serve the community. The club helps RCMP look out for your ghosts and goblins on the streets."This year we were more obvious than in previous years," says another club member Don Smith. One of the volunteers decorated his large older-model station wagon as a scary hearse, complete with skeletons.
"The kids loved it," says Neil.
The radio volunteers are busy at Christmas, too. They pick up donated foodstuffs from county schools and fire departments and take them to the Strathcona County Christmas Bureau for sorting. Then they deliver food hampers to needy families in the county.
The radio volunteers ask nothing in return for their efforts.
"It's fun," says Sheryl Smith who is married to Don.
She laughingly suggests husbands and wives should not work together on Bunny hunts - too many arguements.
You don't need a vehicle or even a CB radio to join the club. All you need is enthusiasm and a willingness to help others.
Radio owners must, by law, have a license and maintain appropriate decorum over the airways.
"We try to be professional (on radio)," says Don Smith. "Everybody (including police) listens."
The club is available to assist organizations.