Radio Scouts

radio_lgRadio Merit Badge Requirements

I was cleaning up the shack on Friday. Unfortunately, the shack becomes a dumping ground for “stuff” that I think I may need at some point in the future. I have a bag of RS232 serial cables. Probably have at least a dozen. 75 ohm TV coax cable and splitters. POTS (RJ-11) two and four wire extension cords. A collection of Palm Pilots with a multitude of accessories. I don’t think any pf the Palm Pilots work anymore. A vast cornucopia of audio cables and connectors. A box of WiFi routers. Computer keyboards. Etc. Etc.

So, I was cleaning and organizing the “stuff” when I just happen to come across a station calling CQ on 40M. “CQ CQ 40 Meters, CQ Boy Scouts, Boy Scouts, this is KD0VMM”. That definitely got my attention. After a short QSO I figured out that these were Scouts from a camp about an hour north near St. Joseph, MO called Camp Geiger and these Scouts were working on their Radio Merit Badge. I continued to monitor the Scout’s QSOs until I heard a bugle blare in the background. The Merit Badge Counselor got on the air and explained the bugle (which had just blown at the top of the hour) signaled an end to that hour’s Merit Badge class. Additionally, there was another Radio class that was just beginning and the Scouts would be back on the air in about 20 minutes. Sure enough, this was the case and I was able to talk to another Scout. After an email exchange with Bruce, owner of KD0VMM, he explained that another group of Scouts would be back on the air next Thursday and Friday as they were finishing up their requirements for the Radio badge.

How cool having a Scout camp offering the Radio Merit Badge! I attended Scout camp many a summer as well as even being a counselor one year, but the Radio badge was never offered as a merit badge that could be earned. What a great opportunity to introduce Scouts to radio!

Wireless-1923After a bit of research, it was interesting to see that back when the badge was created in 1918 it was called the Wireless Merit Badge. Then in 1923, it changed names to the current Radio Merit Badge. Requirements for the badge has evolved over the years… and most recently in 2009.

What I didn’t ask Bruce, KD0VMM, was if the Scouts had the opportunity at camp to earn the Morse Code Interpreter Strip. The Morse Code Strip is a fairly recent edition to Scouts and can be earned by:
InterpretorStrip001-300x45

  • Carrying on a five-minute conversation in Morse code at a speed of at least five words per minute.
  • Copying correctly a two-minute message sent in Morse code at a minimum of five words per minute. Copying means writing the message down as it is received.
  • Sending a 25-word written document in Morse code at a minimum of five words per minute.
  • Boy’s Life, the Boy Scouts of America’s monthly periodical, recently put up a web application called the Morse Code Machine. Looks like fun!
    morse_code_machine

    … as a final note, don’t forget about the Boy Scout’s Jamboree-On-The-Air (JOTA). This event occurs annually during the third weekend in October.
    jota2

    Scott Hedberg, NØZB, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Kansas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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