Awards and Contests
For many Hams contesting and/or the pursuit of awards is a major part of their enjoyment of Ham Radio. So what's the difference?
Well an Award is something you do for yourself in your own time. It may be as simple as Working All States, or as esoteric as working 100 different countrys. The WIA has a goldmine of award information on their website.
A contest, on the other hand, takes place in "real time". Generally 24 or 48 hours, but there are exceptions. The aim is to accumulate the most points in your chosen section of the contest, in accordance with some occasionally complex rules. John Moyle Field Day and Rememberance Day Contest are two examples. Again, more information on the WIA website.