Hello! My name is Enoch Heise and I am a 17-year-old Life Scout and General Class Amateur Radio Operator (KE5HWQ). I’m also working on installing a repeater for my Eagle Project.
I would like to tell you about the Jamboree on the Air, an exciting annual event which crosses over both Scouting and Amateur Radio, and give you 3 reasons why you should definitely plan on participating this October.
What is JOTA?
“When Scouts want to meet young people from another country, they usually think of attending a World Jamboree. But few people realize that each year more than 400,000 Scouts and Guides “get together” over the airwaves for the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA). Modern technology offers Scouts the exciting opportunity to make friends in other countries without leaving home.
JOTA is an annual event in which Boy and Girl Scouts and Guides from all over the world speak to each other by means of Amateur (ham) Radio. Scouting experiences are exchanged and ideas are shared via radio waves. Since 1958 when the first Jamboree-on-the-Air was held, millions of Scouts have met each other through this event. Many contacts made during JOTA have resulted in pen pals and links between Scout troops that have lasted many years.
With no restrictions on age or on the number of participants, and at little or no expense, JOTA allows Scouts to contact each other by ham radio. The radio stations are operated by licensed amateur radio operators. Many Scouts and leaders hold licenses and have their own stations, but the majority participate in JOTA through stations operated by local radio clubs and individual radio amateurs. Some operators use television or computer-linked communications.
JOTA is held the third weekend in October of each year. JOTA takes place starting Saturday at 0000 hours local time (12:00 AM) to Sunday, 23.59 hours local time (12:00 PM), though some activity continues over from Friday to Monday to take advantage of long distance (DX) time differences.”
I have participated in JOTA for three years now, and these events comprise some of my fondest memories from my Scouting experience, and this year I will be volunteering for the JOTA event at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, TX.
So, if you’re not already convinced to participate in JOTA, here are 3 good reasons why this is an event that you can’t pass up:
Reason #1: The opportunity to make an impact in some young mens’ lives
Before the days of the Internet, Radio was one of the biggest, quickest, most cutting edge methods of communication; and, coincidentally, Ham Radio was born at about the same time as Scouting. Naturally, early Scouts found Ham Radio to be a very effective way to exercise the Scout Motto: Be Prepared! And it still is today.
Many Scouts throughout Scouting’s history have been licensed Ham Radio Operators, and any Scout today can become one. Today, the two main ways Radio has been officially implemented into Scouting are through the Jamboree on the Air and through the B.S.A.’s Radio Merit Badge.
Yet, sadly, many Scouts today haven’t heard about Amateur Radio. JOTA is a great way to get the word out and introduce many new Scouts to the value and excitement of Amateur Radio. Your involvement in JOTA can help Scouts discover this fantastic hobby and community service.
Reason #2: Community
Perhaps you’re already involved in the local Ham Radio and Scouting Communities. But whether you are or not, JOTA is a great way to get to meet new people in both Scouting and Ham Radio. The deeper I have gotten into both Scouting and Amateur Radio, the more I have come to realize that they share a lot of similarities beneath the surface.
Many Adult Scout Leaders and Ham Radio Operators share similar values and have similar interests. JOTA is one of the biggest events where these two communities overlap, and it is an excellent opportunity to make new connections and friendships with other like-minded people in your community.
These days, most communities are very spread out and poorly connected. This has several disadvantages, especially in the event of a local disaster, something both Scouting and Ham Radio are dedicated to prepare for. JOTA can bring the community closer together and make it better prepared to face anything that comes its way.
Reason #3: The Joy of Ham Radio
JOTA is a great opportunity to get out and operate on many different modes and bands. At the National Scouting Museum in Irving, TX, they will have the following stations set up:
- HF Voice Station
- HF PSK31 Station
- VHF local and Echolink
- UHF IRLP
- Hidden transmitter hunts
- Solar telescopes and Space weather
- AMSAT Satellite demos
- NTS message origination
- Morse Code education (Promote Morse Interpreter Strip award)
- ARISS contact setup and execution
Even if you are an experienced Amateur Radio operator you may not have gotten to try out all of these activities. With a a little preparation, your local club or group can put together a JOTA experience that is fun for not only the Scouts, but for every Ham!
JOTA gives you the chance to be involved in some young men’s lives; it gives you a chance to connect with your community; and it just a super-fun activity to take part in!
If you don’t have any plans for JOTA this year, now is the time to make some! All-in-all, Jamboree-on-the-Air is a wonderful event that has much to offer to Scouts, Scout Leaders, and Ham Radio enthusiasts of all ages!