Get Ready for JOTA This Weekend
The 55th annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is October 20-21. This 48-hour event runs from 0000 (local time) on Saturday, October 20 (right at midnight Friday) through midnight (local time) on Sunday, October 21. JOTA is an opportunity for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world to experience the magic and excitement of Amateur Radio.
According to Boy Scouts of America JOTA Organizer Jim Wilson, K5ND, more than 250 JOTA stations have registered with the BSA. “We estimate that there will be nearly 17,000 Scouts in 45 states, Puerto Rico and a few countries on the air for JOTA,” Wilson told the ARRL. “We have compiled a spreadsheet that lists locations, call signs, detailed contact information, bands and modes for these stations. We invite hams to use this information in their JOTA activities.”
Wilson is the trustee for K2BSA, the Amateur Radio station for the Boy Scouts of America. “K2BSA, the Boy Scouts of America National Council station, will be on the air from several Scouting locations around the USA,” Wilson noted. “K2BSA/0 will be on from Marysville, Kansas; K2BSA/3 will be on from Elizabethville, Pennsylvania; K2BSA/4 will be on from Minnesott Beach, North Carolina; K2BSA/6 will be on from Camp Herms, California; K2BSA/9 will be on from Potato Creek State Park, Indiana; and K2BSA/5 will be on from the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.”
On Saturday, October 20 at 1:32 CDT (1832 UTC), the K2BSA/5 operation has a scheduled contact via the ARISS Program with Sunita Williams, KD5PLB, aboard the International Space Station. The contact will be streamed live over the Internet.
In addition to the six K2BSA stations, other National Scouting Organizations will also be on the air for JOTA. “HB9S, the station at the World Scout Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland, has a big operation planned, as does GB2GP at Gilwell Park in London,” Wilson told the ARRL. “Others, such as JA1YSS in Japan, 5Z4KSA in Kenya, VK1BP in Australia and PA6JAM in the Netherlands, might be on the air, too.”
In the Houston, Texas area, members of local Amateur Radio clubs have offered their time, talents and equipment to bring Amateur Radio to new Cub Scouts and Webelos. Each autumn, the Sam Houston Area Council holds its “Fun with Son” event at Camp Strake in Conroe and at the Bovay Scout Ranch in Navasota. “New Scout families attend overnight campouts and experience their first Scout camping experience,” Fun with Son Chairman Caroline Rudisill told the ARRL. “Activities include archery, crafts, rocket building and launching, attending a campfire and sleeping under the stars. This year for the first time, Scouts and their families will take part in JOTA, through the generosity and cooperation of ARRL members who are also Scouters. For many Scouts and their parents, it is the first time they have seen or used a ham radio. Introducing the Scouts to this technology is an exciting addition to our program.”
Radio amateurs do not have to be registered to get on the air during JOTA. In addition to the World Scout Frequencies, the BSA has listed a US frequency guide that includes frequencies for 80-6 meters (SSB, CW and PSK31), 2 meters, 70 cm and D-STAR, as well as dedicated IRLP and EchoLink nodes.
“We encourage hams to get on the air and hand out QSOs,” Wilson said. “Remember that JOTA is about conversations, not the number of contacts. Have conversations with Scouts that introduce them to the technology, fun and magic of Amateur Radio. Sometimes you can actually ‘hear’ their eyes light up with a new discovery. Get on the air and mentor the next generation of hams.”