56th JOTA: October 19-20, 2013Jamboree on the Air provides the opportunity for millions of Scouts around the world to meet on the air via Amateur Radio. Get ready for the 56th year of this annual on-the-air event!
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 half a million Scouts and Guides "get together" over the airwaves for the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA). The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2010 JOTA had just over 700,000 Scout participants from nearly 6,000 amateur radio stations! 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.
Jamboree-on-the-Air is held the third weekend in October. The official hours are from Saturday at 00:00 hours local time (right at midnight Friday) to Sunday 24:00 (midnight Sunday evening). So you’ve got the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts.
First, contact a local Amateur Radio operator or club to ask for assistance. If you need help finding a club in your area check the ARRL Affiliated Club Search page. The FCC License Data Search also lists amateurs and clubs in your area (enter your zip code only). Radio amateurs are enthusiastic about their hobby and most will be willing to help you participate in JOTA. The radio operator may suggest that the Scouts visit his/her station or that the operator bring equipment to your local campsite. Often, JOTA stations are set up in unusual locations, such as the top of a mountain, or on a boat.
Ham radio operators have obtained a radio transmission license by passing an exam given by national authorities. License conditions vary from country to country and Third Party Agreements regulating communications apply. Please consult the list of Third Party Traffic Agreements.
To review FCC control operator rules, refer to the discussion of control operator rules as it pertains to Field Day operation.
Stations should call "CQ Jamboree," or answer stations doing so. Any authorized frequency may be used. It is recommended that stations use the agreed World Scout Frequencies, listed elsewhere in this document. To avoid congestion, use close-by frequencies.
JOTA is not a contest. The idea is not to contact as many stations as possible during the weekend.
All participating groups are asked to send a report of their activities to their National JOTA Organizer (NJO). The BSA address is firstname.lastname@example.org . You'll find a report form to download on the BSA JOTA web pages.
Although the worldwide JOTA is organized in October, Scouts can meet on the air at other times during the year. Regular Scout nets (a pre-arranged time and frequency when operators meet) are organized nationally or regionally. An updated list of these nets can always be found in the latest World JOTA Report, which is published by the World Scout Bureau.
Visit the Boy Scouts of America 2013 JOTA information page for a wealth of information to help you plan and publicize your event as well as details on ordering JOTA cards and patches and the BSA JOTA report form to download and print. You'll find operating guidelines and recommended frequencies for operation in the U.S. and a a registry of stations planning to participate. Use the online form provided to register your station and operating plan!
Each licensed Amateur Radio station has a unique identifier known as a "call sign." The first letters specify the country. Here are call signs of well-known stations that can often be contacted:
- HB9S -- World Scout Bureau, Geneva Switzerland
- K2BSA -- Boy Scouts of America National Office, Dallas TX
- JA1YSS -- Boy Scouts of Nippon National Office, Tokyo Japan
- PA6JAM -- Scouting Nederland National Station, Sassenheim Netherlands
- 5Z4KSA -- The Kenya Scouts Assoc. Paxtu Station, Nyeri Kenya
- VK1BP -- The Scout Assn. of Australia National Station, Canberra Australia
- GB2GP -- The Scout Assn., Gilwell Park, London UK
- XE1ASM -- Boy Scouts of Mexico
- DX1BSP -- Boy Scouts of Philippines
- TF3JAM -- Scouts of Iceland
The World Scout Bureau operates its own Amateur Radio station, with the call sign HB9S. There is a permanent radio room in the Bureau's Geneva offices, and the station is regularly on the air during Scout nets and JOTA weekends. Transmitters are on the 10/15/20 meter, 160/80/40 meter and (in the Geneva area) the 440/2 meter bands. Making contact with HB9S requires patience, as many stations call at the same time. Please follow instructions given by the operators and do not interfere with on-going contacts. They speak in as many languages as possible.
Scouts and Scout Leaders share their stories and photos of JOTA experiences.
Before the event:
- Send a report of your plans to local news reporters. Ask them to visit the station.
- Ask a radio operator to talk about ham radio communications. Visit his/her station to actually see how it works. Learn about radio waves and their propagation.
- Learn to say hello in other languages.
- Learn about other countries and prepare questions to ask over the air.
- Design special QSL cards for the JOTA weekend. Find a way to print cards or prepare different handmade cards.
- Build a simple antenna.
- Build a simple radio-related project.
- Learn about electricity and how to do simple electrical repairs such as how to fix a blown fuse.
- Learn and practice Morse code. Find tips on learning Morse code and its history on our website. Other websites provide Morse code practice. These and other resources are listed on the JOTA resources page.
- Practice talking into microphones using radio operating procedures and jargon--see examples.
- Find out about your local area in order to answer questions from Scouts in other regions.
During the Event:
- The global weather situation. Get a large wall map of the world. Ask the Scouts with whom you speak to give the local weather. Mark it on the map for the area where they are located. At the end of the weekend you will have a global weather picture.
- Determine the distance between each radio contact that you made and add them all up. Can you reach 100,000 km (62,000 miles) in one JOTA weekend?
- Learn to say "Scout" in several different languages. Use it whenever possible.
- Invite parents and other friends to visit your JOTA station.
- Organize a weekend hike and take portable radio equipment with you.
- Keep a personal logbook. Include names, addresses and other information for Scouts contacted.
- Set up an information section with maps, atlases and other sources. When a contact is made, Scouts can find out details about the country or region.
- Plot contacts made on a world map.
- Invite the media to your station. Ask a newspaper to take photos.
- Organize a fox hunt, where Scouts have to locate a small hidden transmitter. This can include the use of a map and compass.
After the Event:
- Write to the Scouts contacted. Establish individual (pen pal) or troop links. Send your badge and other information about your area.
- Send your reports (and photos!) to the ARRL. Maybe you'll see your picture in our magazine, QST!
- Or you can send a report to your NJO. He'll send his national JOTA report to the World Scout Bureau.
- Start planning for next year!
3.690 & 3.940 MHz
7.090 & 7.190 MHz
Please note that the World Scout Frequencies changed 1 July 2007. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) changed its band plans to create space for more digital transmissions. Some Scout frequencies are affected by this. Traditionally, Scout Frequencies were chosen in a segment where low-power, simple stations are transmitting (QRP). This allows Scouts to operate such stations from camp sites and still be able to communicate with others. Some of these frequencies have changed over time. The amateur radio bands are increasingly busy with competitions. With the Scout frequencies chosen outside of the contest segments as far as possible, Scout stations can operate undisturbed.
Consult the BSA JOTA information Web pages for frequencies recommended for U.S. JOTA operations.
Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) offers an alternative to direct radio contacts. Scouts make connections around the world using computers and the Internet and various techniques.
At the link below are PDF versions of a JOTA participant certificate that includes a contact log section for recording the stations that were contacted during your event. Download and print as many as you need.
Printed flyers describing Amateur Radio that can be used as hand-outs at Scouting events or other public events are available from ARRL. You may order these materials online from ARRL's Forms & Media Warehouse.
The World Scout Bureau of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement sponsors JOTA. The official details and any information specific to the event, yearly theme, special international activities, etc. can be found on the official international event website.
BSA sponsors a registration page where you can post your JOTA event to let others know how to contact you or join in.