Jamboree on the Air will be held world wide on the weekend of October 15 & 16. JOTA is the largest Scouting event in the world with the World Organization of the Scouting Movement reporting over 700,000 Scouts participated from nearly 6,000 stations around the world in 2010. You can find a great deal of information about JOTA at http://www.scouting.org/jota.aspx
While it may be a little late to organize your own station operation for JOTA, you can still visit one near you. The list of registered stations is at http://www.scouting.org/jota/registered_stations.aspx Included in this list is Astronaut and Scoutmaster Mike Fossum who will be operating from the International Space Station via NA1SS.
You might be wondering, what’s the big deal about amateur radio? After all, it’s been around for over 100 years. Isn’t it kind of old fashioned? The answer to the first question is that interest in amateur radio by our Scouts has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last two decades. You can see that by the jump in the number of Radio Merit Badges earned annually. Through the 1980’s that number had leveled off at less than 1,000 per year. Then it started a steady growth through the 1990s and the 2000s to the point of 7,000 earned in both 2009 and 2010. You can see a graph of the badges earned each year since 1949 at http://www.k2bsa.net/radio-merit-badge/ So it is popular with our Scouts.
As to old fashioned, ham radio has always been at the forefront of technological innovation. From the original experiments with “wireless” communication to current day communication by satellite using a handheld radio and antenna as shown in the photo below.
Yet another exciting activity is called Fox Hunting, which uses amateur radio direction finding to complete an orienteering course by finding hidden transmitters using a handheld radio and directional antenna. It’s a blast for the Scouts and gets them into the outdoors with technology in their hands and a challenge on their minds.
I encourage you to stop by one of the JOTA stations in your area and check out the fun that the Scouts are having and the fabulous exposure to technology as well as communicating with other Scouts around the world.
That’s October 15 and 16. Check it out!
Jim Wilson, K5ND
National JOTA Organizer