The Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is an annual Scouting event that uses amateur radio to link Scouts around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. Held on the third full weekend of October each year, this worldwide jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby radio amateur’s ham shack. Many times the hams will come to you by setting up at a Scout camporee, or perhaps they already have a ham shack at your council’s camp. There are many ways to get your Scouts involved in JOTA.
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Scouts of any age can participate, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers. Once at the ham radio station, the communication typically requires speaking into a microphone and listening on the station speakers. However, many forms of specialized communication can also take place, such as video communication, digital communication using typed words on the computer screen transmitted by radio, communication through a satellite relay or an earth-based relay (called a repeater), and many others. The exchanges include such information as name, location (called QTH in ham speak), Scout rank, age, and hobbies. The stations you’ll be communicating with can be other Scouts across town, across the country, or even around the world! The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2012 JOTA had nearly 700,000 Scout participants from more than 13,500 amateur radio stations! A participant patch is available, as is a certificate/log sheet that can also be used to fulfill a Radio merit badge requirement.
When Is It?
Jamboree-on-the-Air is held the third weekend in October. There are no official hours, so you have the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts. The "JOTA Jump Start" on Friday evening is an excellent time to get started.
How Can I Participate as a Scout?
Contact your local Scout council and see what may already be planned in your area. You can also contact a local ham radio operator or a local amateur radio club. You can find a searchable database of clubs at www.arrl.org/find-a-club. This website is operated by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio, which is cooperating closely with the BSA on JOTA and many other activities.
Your local club may be able to direct you to its planned JOTA activities. These can include ham stations set up at camporees or other events. Or, if there are no planned activities, you can either work with them to get something set up or arrange to visit a local radio operator’s ham shack at a scheduled time to participate in JOTA.
How Can I Participate as an Amateur Radio Operator?
Contact your local Scout council and see what may already be planned in your area and how you can help. You can find your council at http://scouting.org/LocalCouncilLocator.aspx.
If nothing is currently planned, or if current plans aren’t reaching your area, you can work with the council or a local unit (pack, troop, crew) to set up a JOTA station or arrange for visits to your ham shack. You can also participate just by making QSOs with the many JOTA stations that will be on the air.