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Hams prepare for 2019 Scout Pacific Jamboree at Camp Barnard

I wanted to share that I will once again be running a Ham Radio Station at the BC/Yukon Pacific Scout Jamboree being held July 6 – 13 at Camp Barnard in Sooke BC Canada, a 250 acre scout camp on Young Lake.

I ran this same station in 2015 and of the 3,000 scouts attending the Jamboree, some 350 of them came to our Ham Radio Station to earn a Ham Radio badge at Camp Barnard.

We anticipate the same number of scouts, (i.e. boys and girls aged 11 – 14 years old), to attend this year’s Jamboree and a similar number, (350 – 400) to visit our station to earn a badge. Our club call sign is VE7SHR (i.e. for Scout Ham Radio).

A Scout Pacific (BC / Yukon) Jamboree like other Jamborees are held every 4 years. In 2015 it was the first Jamboree at Camp Barnard in many years and cost over a million dollars to put on with improvements and additions to roads, water and power lines, added washroom facilities, dock extension, food deliveries, fire, police and medical preparations, (i.e. we have an onsite hospital set up), etc. etc. and requires hundreds of volunteers.

Having just earned my VA7RTB Ham Radio Certification in early 2015, along with the Camp Ranger Willy Burrows VE7WRB, and with the 2015 Pacific Scout Jamboree only months away, we decided to try our hand at running a Ham Radio Station. Help from a much more experienced advanced Ham, Chris Carr VE7BAC, from BC’s mainland didn’t hurt either!

As a volunteer organization and little money however, we put the word out to the local Ham community for the donation of any used / unwanted Ham Radio equipment. We were overwhelmed with the response with donations of radios, towers, antennas, coaxial cables, power supplies etc. etc. We also were given permission to share the archery room to create a permanent Ham Shack as seen in the pictures below which needed some extensive renovations to accommodate us.

Although a lot of the equipment donated was outdated or not working, there were some very usable pieces, plus the donations that Chris brought over from his scrounging over on the mainland, made our shack operational. One bonus was being able to purchase a brand new Yaesu FT-8800 from the Jamboree fund for our permanent shack.

So, with a 20’ X 20’ rented army tent, we set up our Ham Shack and waited for all 3000 youth to arrive, but not sure how much interest our station would actually generate. Well, we didn’t have to wait long, as scouts, (i.e. boys and girls aged, 11 – 14), seemed to gravitate to us and were keen to earn a “generic” Ham Radio badge. Being located next to the badge trading station didn’t hurt either. We were however, in fact blown away by the interest and enthusiasm of the youth. Originally we had them complete six activities to earn a badge, however as we were quickly running out of badges, we upped the requirements to completing 9 activities, and still we ran out of badges in the end.

As an example of the positive responses we got, Chris said that we had more youth attend our station on day one, than attended the week long Ham Station a year earlier at the “Canadian Jamboree” that was host to 2 & 1/2 times as many scouting youth as our provincial Jamboree. It was also great to have the youth make HF contact with other Hams in Alaska, Russia, the Virgin Islands, a weather ship at sea and even Disneyland.

Other events at the 2015 Pacific Jamboree included, canoeing, rock climbing, an overnight hike, scuba diving, visiting the town of Sooke, log rolling, a variety of arts and crafts, robotics, swimming, log pole climbing and ax throwing, to mention a few.

So, with the 2015 Pacific Jamboree over, we immediately set our sights on planning for 2019. We continued to try and improve our equipment, designed a more Ham Radio specific badge, (as seen in the email below), and looked at some new activities to involve the youth in such as Morse Code keying, and having them look up available Call Signs. We have also, as in the last Jamboree, invited local Hams to either come out and assist us, or at least call in to our station on their radios. We are also negotiating with another Ham to borrow his 30’ Ham Radio trailer to be present on site at the Jamboree.

We are also looking at setting up a second Ham Shack location on site as it is a larger space and can accommodate bigger groups throughout the year. (We haven’t determined yet exactly which frequencies we will be monitoring but that will come.)

So what’s next? We have already heard that the Francophone Scouts are scheduled to hold their Jamboree at Camp Barnard in 2020,as well as the Girl Guides holding there SOAR Jamboree there that same year. Again, some 3,000 Girl Guides are planning to attend. Plans are in the works for both of these events, for us to offer a Ham Radio Station. We also plan to participate in the “Scout Jamboree On The Air” (JOTA), held every October, and we do smaller presentations to Beaver, Cub and Scout groups throughout the year when asked.

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor