The Sam Report: Thirty Miles from West Chester

One may ask just how devoted Amiga users are; one of the more remarkable answers to that question takes the form of the Cecil Amiga Users Group.

By Sam Ormes, Senior Editor and Chief Correspondent, s.ormes@genie.com

So close to the center of Amigadom back in 1994, Jerimy Campbell of Rising Sun, Maryland made plans to form an Amiga users' club in rural Cecil County. Dissatisfied with the elitist attitudes prevalent in the nearest user group in Newark, Delaware (where they scoffed at the youngster who only ran an A500 with no hard drive), Jerimy dreamed of creating his own "user friendly" club in Rising Sun.

Plans were well underway when Commodore ruined everything by failing. West Chester became just another town thirty miles away in another state. Like so many devoted but discouraged Amigans, Jer put his dreams on hold and continued to enjoy his new A1200. "I couldn't see starting a user group for a computer that was not even being manufactured", he said.

And then.... hope arrived in the form of Escom/Amiga Technologies. Machines were being manufactured for Europeans at least, and the time seemed right for the sun to rise on The Cecil Amiga Users Group.

"Now I could start my group on the wave of rebirth. I did some preparation, advertising in papers, sending our flyer to magazines and Amiga dealers, inserting our flyer in Amiga magazines at book stores, calling people on the phone, etc."

says Jerimy. A fellow Amigan, John Goodie, ran an appliance store and offered it as a meeting place. CAUG was in business!

Learning from his previous club experience, Jer Campbell makes sure there are 2-3 Amigas running at every monthly club meeting, and takes pains to ensure that the novices get plenty of attention. He went so far as to buy up a bunch of A500/600s at an inventory liquidation so that the club and its members would have access to machines.

Membership of CAUG is currently about 40, of which some 12-15 will show up for meetings. A monthly newsletter is published and the club will soon have its own Web page. A software library is maintained for members. The club has its own logo, available on tee shirts too. A typical monthly meeting includes presentations on such things as enhancing your WB 2.0, game demos, showing the Deathbed Vigil tape, etc. Operating cash is generated solely from raffles at the monthly meeting....no dues!

CAUG is listed in the user group sections of such prestigious mags as Videomaker, Video Toaster User and Amazing Computing. I saw it recently in The Informer, an important newsletter in New York State. His dream realized, Jerimy Campbell puts it into perspective in his typically modest way:

"I don't have any real serious goal for this group. I just wanted a place where Amiga users could meet up once a month to confirm that they were not alone."

A message from Sam... You may be thinking "Big deal...an Amiga club doing what Amiga clubs do everywhere!" To that I respond that you should try to find Rising Sun, Maryland on your map. I know of clubs in major cities that are lucky to get 12-15 Amigans to a monthly meeting. This is the boonies, folks!

I say "well done, Jerimy!" The same to co-founders John Goodie, Ed Belote, and George Lomas. Born in the chaos of the post-CBM era and keeping the flame burning, CAUG should serve as an example to all of us. Thirty miles from West Chester!