June 20, 2023
Midland Radio's GMRS repeater helped outdoor adventurers at a camping and overlanding trip stay safe as storms unexpectedly rolled in.
Darren Carden, the event organizer shared his experience of leveling up communication with the help of the GMRS repeater.
The Southeast Overland Camping event took place in East Tennessee outside the Brushy Mountain State Prison.
This was the second annual event and there were a total of 293 rigs in attendance.
The event included camping, trail rides, education courses, a raffle and more. There were 11 educational courses offered included radio communications, tire repair on the trail, traction control devices, and more.
“I want people to be able to do this safely, learn to do this safely with our training classes, and meet people they can travel with," Carden said.
For him, seeing people come together was the highlight of the event.
“It was everyone coming together as a community. It really came together as a true camping and overland family. When I saw the community come together, that was my favorite part of the whole weekend," he said.
The raffle benefit Tread Lightly!, Southern Four Wheel Drive, and a local animal shelter.
As Midland Radio was a title sponsor of the event and sponsor of all trail rides, two-way radio communication was a major focus of the event.
Through its sponsorship, Midland Radio donated handheld two-way radios for staff, an MXT500 MicroMobile® Two-Way Radio for the raffle, MXT115 MicroMobile® Two-Way Radiosfor demos on trail rides and radio communication courses, and MR10VP Midland GMRS Repeater Bundle for extended communication.
“Everyone that checked in, we let them know we were going to do our main event announcements through GMRS channel 13. It was nice because we didn’t have to get on a loud speaker, interrupting people. Every single announcement was made over two-way radios.”
While GMRS two-way radios weren't required for the event this year, that won't necessarily be the case next year.
"We will most likely make it required for everything next year because it was so great to make those announcements over the radios.”
Carden said his staff having handhelds with them at every turn made a difference in their ability to keep the event smooth.
“No matter where I was- in the vendor area, the campsite, at the drivers’ meetings, I could use my handhelds and it was an easy way to reach everyone."
The Southern Four Wheel Drive Association hosted the radio communications class.
“People absolutely loved that class. I think there was about 35 people sitting in on that class. Southern really focuses on GMRS and they all use Midland as well. He made sure to talk about the repeater and how we were using it at the event. A lot of people were impressed with the repeater’s capability after Saturday’s monstrosity.”
Unfortunately, the event was hit with unexpected storms.
“Friday was absolutely great and there were a bunch of people that headed out on the trails. We were aware that a storm was coming in Friday night and that it should pass by Saturday morning. The storms Friday night were absolutely crazy. One county over, there was a tornado. The tornado sirens went off where we were at 4:30 in the morning.”
Things were looking up...temporarily Saturday.
“Saturday morning everyone was very excited that we made it through the storms. We had 60 rigs take off for trail rides. About two hours into trail rides, we had a constant wind of about 50 miles per hour with gusts somewhere around 80.”
With the help of Midland's GMRS repeater, Carden was able to reach the trail leaders who were deep in the trails.
“We tried to get ahold of the trail leaders without the use of the repeater, but because they were so far into the ride and there were obstacles, it just was full of static. When we moved to the repeater channel it was great communication and got them to head back.”
Ultimately, he knows getting attendees and trail guides to safety wouldn't have been easy without the reliability of the Midland GMRS repeater.
"I can’t rave more about being able to get ahold of our trail leaders with the use of the repeater. It wouldn’t have been possible to get them back to camp since there is no cellphone service," Carden said.
And even upon returning to camp, the GMRS repeater and two-way radios helped everyone navigate the nasty weather.
“The radios were important to safety. People could use the radios if they needed help with anything. This was a priority for us and without the radios, I’m not sure it would have been possible.”