We hope to provide you insight into the program possibilities with JOTA success stories. The two stories featured here are from the Heart of Virginia Council and several troops and packs from Vermont.
Heart of Virginia Council
The 2012 Boy Scout Jamboree-on-the-Air (BS-JOTA) was held Saturday, October 20, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. at the Cub Adventure Camp, located in Maidens, Virginia. The Heart of Virginia Council’s Cardinal District held a Cub Scout “Cub Olympics” during the weekend, with approximately 1,200 Cub Scouts and their families camping during the event.
The BS-JOTA team set up an HF station, D-Star station, VHF/UHF station, and IRLP station over the day. Contacts on HF were made all over the United States, Canada, and even Europe! Boy Scout Austin Thomas, N4CVA, was instrumental in showing the Cub Scouts how to make the correct contact—and many boys did make HF contacts throughout the day. Austin did a fantastic job!
When large numbers of Cub Scouts showed up at the BS-JOTA station, Win Grant, WA4SSG, and David Thomas, KB4IQT, would take small groups a few dozen yards away from each other and they would use HT’s to make contacts with each other. Needless to say, a lot of “local” contacts were made as well!
Armand Hamel, WA1UQO, brought one of the most fun instruments of the day—a key and code practice oscillator. I believe Armand’s key was the most used piece of equipment. At least 100 Scouts touched the key and they just loved making it squeak and squeal. One lesson shared with the boys was teaching them how to say “HI” in Morse Code: “. . . . . .” The best part of having the boys learn to key “HI” was telling them that they could do the same thing with their flashlights and “talk” to each other in “secret code.” You could almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they figured out what they were going to do later that night.
The D-Star station was connected to the BS-JOTA reflector (REF033A) and occasionally to the Atlanta reflector (REF030C). D-Star contacts were light as most of the operators were very busy helping the Scouts talk either on HF or HT’s in the small groups. There were a lot of stations making contacts throughout the world on the BS-JOTA reflector: Argentina, UK, New Zealand, and many others. It was great hearing all the different countries and the accents of the stations were really interesting to the Scouts as well.
As the afternoon wore on, the Scouts (and the operators) were getting tired! The HF station was shut down and we linked the RATS UHF IRLP node to the BS-JOTA node (9091). Scout after Scout after Scout made contacts primarily with other Scouts in Canada and Texas. At least 20 Scouts made contacts with other Scouts and an occasional ham as well—all over IRLP!
The day went great! At least 50 to 60 Scouts made contacts with someone, mostly with other Scouts. The day was beautiful. The volunteers made the day go smoothly and were so generous with their time. My final thoughts are these: I really enjoy ham radio and sharing my passion for this great hobby of ours with people who are open to new ideas! We are the ones who make the entrance to our hobby friendly and welcoming. Get out there and welcome” someone into your hobby today!
I’d like to thank the following individuals and sponsors:
- Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC)
- Sponsored the BS-JOTA station
- Provided HF equipment
- D-Star repeater access
- Richmond Amateur Telecommunication Society (RATS)
- UHF IRLP repeater access
- Cardinal District, Heart of Virginia Council
- Provided facilities for the BS-JOTA station
- Allowed the station to be part of the Cub Olympics
- Volunteers (in call sign order)
- KB4IQT, David Thomas, Troop 832
- KK4DWX, Bob Kendig
- N4CVA, Austin Thomas, Troop 832
- WA1UQO, Armand Hamel
- WA4SSG, Win Grant
- Mac McNeer, K4YEF
- Use of the RARC Club call sign: W4ZA
73 de KJ4WLH
Jim Bates, Troop 876, RARC Member, RATS Member
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from St. Johnsbury (Troop 707 and Pack 706) and Lyndonville (Troop and Pack 738) came together over the weekend of Oct. 20 and 21 to participate in the Jamboree-on-the-Air event.
Scouts used the amateur radio equipment of Troop 707 Scoutmaster James Cross, whose station license is VE4JC/W1. Cross has been a licensed ham radio operator since he was a teenager, and he was more than happy to share this exciting hobby with the local Scouts.
“We managed to make contact with around 30 stations, most of whom were also JOTA event stations,” noted Cross. “Using the radio, the boys got an opportunity to share their Scouting experiences with other units far away. In addition to being able to chat with other Scouts, the boys learned more about shortwave radio technology and in fact we started many of them on their Radio merit badge. We also managed to work some stations in Germany during a ham radio contest in that country, a station in Serbia, and one in Spain. We heard Scout JOTA stations in Canada, Italy, and Great Britain, but were unable to make contact, due to limitations of our portable antenna.”
The event took place at the Outing Club in Lyndonville, which also serves as the meeting location for the Lyndonville Boy Scout troop. Cross said, “It was a perfect spot for setting up our antenna wire up the ski slope and the boys were able to ‘camp’ in the lodge.”
The event runs through the night to take advantage of radio propagation, through which radio waves reach different parts of the world using different frequencies at different times.
Cross added, “I have to give sincere thanks to our host, Deb Donaghy, who is the Lyndonville pack committee chairperson, and who organized the use of the Outing Club on our behalf—and provided doughnuts for the boys!”
Since not all of the boys were able to talk on the radio at one time, several embarked on a game of Monopoly that went on late into the night.