By Jim Wilson, K5ND
National JOTA Organizer, USA
Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is the largest Scouting event in the world. Each year on the third weekend of October some 700,000 Scouts hit the airwaves from nearly 6,000 amateur radio stations around the world. Through this activity Scouts are introduced to radio technology and to other Scouts around the USA and around the World. They get a chance to talk with one another and share information that broadens their perspective on other cultures, on geography, and on the technology and hobby that provides the means for their communication.
The most successful JOTA events around the USA occur during camporees or other troop, district, or council events. This allows a wide range of Scouts to tour the ham radio stations and, if they desire, talk on the radio with a microphone or even with a keyboard using digital communication modes. In 2011, several locations actually communicated with the International Space Station where fellow Scout and ham radio operator Mike Fossum spoke with the Scouts.
Overall, reported participation jumped in 2011. The number of stations filing a report moved to 68, an increase of over 100 percent, while the number of Scout participants hit 3,000+, an increase of 600 percent. However, over 200 stations registered their operations prior to the event, so the unreported participation was even higher.
Among the registered JOTA stations 109 councils were represented, 37 states, Puerto Rico, and a U.S. military base in South Korea, with nearly 16,000 estimated Scout participants. Of course, the broader World Scouting JOTA registration represented most national Scouting organizations around the world. The final 2011 world report is expected to be published soon.
The National Radio Scouting Committee has identified nine key areas for JOTA improvement in 2012. Among these are earlier development of the JOTA patch along with earlier promotion to Scouters and amateur radio operators. They are also working on a number of additions and improvements to the supporting materials that are provided at http://www.scouting.org/jota.
I encourage you to support your local council’s efforts for JOTA 2012. If you have any questions or need additional information, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.