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Scouts to Take to the Airwaves for the 54th Jamboree on the Air

09/28/2011

Each year, more than 500,000 Scouts in more than 100 countries take to the airwaves on the third full weekend in October -- and this year will be no different. The Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) is an annual Scouting and Amateur Radio event sponsored by the World Scout Bureau of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). JOTA is an annual event where Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world speak to each other via Amateur Radio. Since 1958 -- when the first Jamboree on the Air was held -- millions of Scouts have met through this event. Many contacts made during JOTA have resulted in pen pals and links between Scout troops that have lasted many years. The radio stations are operated by radio amateurs; many Scouts and leaders hold licenses and have their own stations. The majority of JOTA Scouts participate through stations operated by local radio clubs and individual hams.

Scouts of any age can participate, from Brownies to Ambassadors, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers. Once at the ham radio station, the communication typically requires speaking into a microphone and listening on the station speakers. But many forms of specialized communication can also take place, such as video communication, digital communication using typed words on the computer screen transmitted by radio, communication through a satellite relay or an earth-based relay (called a repeater). The exchanges include such information as name, location, Scout rank, age and hobbies. The stations you’ll be communicating with can be other Scouts across town, across the country -- even around the world! The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2010 JOTA had more than 700,000 Scout participants from nearly 6000 Amateur Radio stations!

Besides being the editor of QEX, Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, is also a life-long Boy Scout; he is currently a member of his District Advancement Committee and a member of Troop 60 in Oakdale, Connecticut. “JOTA is one of my favorite operating activities,” he reminisced. “Whether I am running a station at a District Camporee, Cub Activity Day or just getting on the air by myself, it is sure to be a fun time. Just the mention of JOTA brings a flood of memories. My first JOTA was in a tent in my backyard as a 16 year old Novice, WN3JQM. Heavy rains overnight left a puddle of water inside the operating tent. When Garry, WN3JQL, and I found Terry, WN3JQK, operating with his feet in that puddle of water, we decided it was time to pull the plug! Since then, whether it was a drier operation the next year or another very rainy day at a Cub Scout activity many years later -- where Jean, WB3IOS, and I made one contact that lasted until that operator talked with every Cub Scout at the camp that day (easily more than 100) -- JOTA has been a fun time. I remember icy cold Camporees and beautiful autumn days. We’ve had groups of Scouts at W1AW, and one year, Dennis, K7BV, set up his 6 meter meteor scatter station at camp for the Scouts.”

The 54th Jamboree on the Air is October 15–16, 2011. The official hours are 0000 (local time) Saturday, October 15 (right at midnight Friday) through midnight (local time) Sunday, October 16 (midnight Sunday evening).

Stations that participate in JOTA should call “CQ Jamboree” or answer stations doing so. Any authorized frequency may be used. The World Scout Bureau recommends that stations use the agreed World Scout Frequencies:

  • 80 meters -- 3.690 and 3.940 MHz (SSB), 3.570 MHz (CW)
  • 40 meters -- 7.090*, 7.190 and 7.270 MHz (SSB), 7.030 MHz (CW)
  • 20 meters -- 14.290 MHz (SSB), 14.060 MHz (CW)
  • 17 meters -- 18.140 MHz (SSB), 18.080 MHz (CW)
  • 15 meters -- 21.360 MHz (SSB), 21.140 MHz (CW)
  • 12 meters -- 24.960 MHz (SSB), 24.910 MHz (CW)
  • 10 meters -- 28.390 MHz (SSB), 28.180 MHz (CW)
  • 6 meters -- 50.160 MHz (SSB), 50.160 MHz (CW)
    * Amateurs in IARU Region 2 are not authorized to transmit on these frequencies.

These are “calling frequencies.” After contact has been made, you should move off that frequency (either above or below) to continue your contact and allow others to use the calling frequency.

The AO-51 satellite will be made available for JOTA. It will remain in its current configuration, with an understanding that contacts involving Scouts will be given first priority during this period. The current operating mode of AO-51 is as follows:

  • Uplink: 145.880 MHz FM (no PL tone)
  • Downlink: 435.150 MHz FM

Please keep in mind that this is not a contest to contact the most stations during JOTA. You do not need to submit your logs.

2011 JOTA Theme: Peace, Environment and Natural Disasters

How can the use of modern means of communication help save lives? How can each Scout prepare to intervene to save lives during great natural or climatic disasters? According to the WOSM, Scouts showed that they know how to quickly and efficiently react during the earthquakes and tsunamis that affected Thailand in 2004, Haiti in 2010 and Japan earlier this year: “To act accordingly to prepare youth to be confronted to difficult circumstances and reinforce the existing partnerships with National or International Humanitarian Organizations, the National Scout Organizations are invited to organize activities in partnership with locally active NGOs which operate in these three areas: Peace, Environment and Natural Disasters.”

There are Scout groups nearly everywhere, well organized, with good contacts in the local community. The Scouts are usually trained in basic first-aid medical techniques and orienteering. They have the material that is needed to set up a temporary shelter quickly, such as tents, cooking material, construction material. This equipment used for recreational camping can also be used in an emergency.

How Can I Participate As a Scout?

In the US, JOTA is primarily a Boy Scout event, though girls are welcome to participate, too. The best way to get involved is to contact your local BSA Council and see what may already be planned in your area. You can also contact a local ham radio operator or a local Amateur Radio club. You can find a searchable database of clubs here. Your local club may be able to direct you to its planned JOTA activities. These can include ham stations set up at camporees or other events. If there are no planned activities, you can either work with them to get something set up or arrange to visit a local radio operator’s ham shack at a scheduled time to participate in JOTA.

How Can I Participate as an Amateur Radio Operator?

Contact your local BSA Council and see what may already be planned in your area and how you can help. You can find your council here. If nothing is currently planned, or if current plans aren’t reaching your area, you can work with the Council or a local unit (Pack, Troop or Crew) to set up a JOTA station or arrange for visits to your ham shack. You can also participate just by making QSOs with the many JOTA stations that will be on the air.

More Information Available

Here are some links where you can find more information on the 54th Jamboree On The Air.

“The best JOTAs have been when I was able to gather a group of Scouts around a radio and let them take over the controls as they found other Scouts and operators to talk with,” Wolfgang said. “Whether it is an SSB contact, or operating CW or digital modes, everyone loves to see how far they can reach. There are always plenty of stations on the air for JOTA, so gather some Scouts and have a wonderful time. Try a new mode, show the Scouts how to run PSK and let them take over the computer, send SSTV images of the Scouts or put them on a local 2 meter repeater. No matter what you try, the Scouts are sure to have a great time, and you may just hook some new operators for your efforts.”  -- Thanks to the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA and AMSAT for some information



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