“Thinking Day” Activity Gets Girl Scouts Thinking About Ham Radio
When Girl Scout leader Jill Galus, KB1SWV, was planning a “Thinking Day” activity last fall, she learned about Thinking Day On The Air (TDOTA). The World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides designates February 22 as Thinking Day — to commemorate the birth of both Scouting founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his wife Olave, the first Chief Guide. On Thinking Day Girl Scouts and Guides to reflect upon the international nature of their movement. Akin to the Boy Scouts Jamboree On The Air (JOTA), Thinking Day on the Air is a global activity aimed at encouraging Girl Scouts and Guides to make friends via Amateur Radio. Both events were conceived by Les Mitchell, G3BHK (SK). Galus asked her dad, Skip Youngberg, K1NKR, if he and the Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club he belongs to would be willing to support a TDOTA station this year for her troop in Raymond, New Hampshire.
The Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club (NVARC) supported Galus — “and had a lot of fun doing it,” Youngberg told ARRL. The club agreed to let the girls use the club’s N1NC call sign and its tower trailer, while Youngberg offered equipment.
“By the time Thinking Day arrived on February 21, five local other troops had joined hers for the event,” Youngberg said. “[S]he soon found that she had the tiger by the tail.”
Stan Pozerski, KD1LE; Ralph Swick, KD1SM; Greg Cote, KB1WAQ, and his daughter Sarah, also a Girl Scout, and Youngberg traveled to New Hampshire and set up at a Masonic lodge. In addition to radios for HF and VHF, the NVARC team set up code practice oscillators for the girls to try. Eighty girls had signed up, split between morning and afternoon sessions, but because bad weather was forecast for later that day, all but 13 of them arrived in the morning.
“Needless to say, there was a lot of ‘audio QRM,’” Youngberg said. “Nevertheless, every activity succeeded in capturing the girls’ interest.”
The ham radio mentors demonstrated Morse code and taught the youngsters how to send their names on the code practice oscillators. Galus had maps and a globe on hand to teach world time concepts as well as a craft table to string beads to spell “GS” in Morse code, as a keepsake.
The girls did not succeed in making contact with other Girl Scouts or Girl Guide groups, but the hams were able to demonstrate how to get on the air, both on HF and VHF. Afterward, Youngberg and his daughter sent QSL cards to the stations they’d worked. “When the replies come back,” he said, “those budding scientists and potential new hobbyists will be reminded of a great experience and will have another thing to be excited about.”
More details and photos are available in the March edition of the NVARC Signal newsletter. — Thanks to Skip Youngberg, K1NKR, and Jill Galus, KB1SWV