Scouts and Scouters Take to the Airwaves for the 55th Jamboree on the Air
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 on October 20-21, it 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 pal relationships and links between Scout troops that have lasted many years.
Scouts of any age can participate, from Brownies to Ambassadors, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers. Once at the ham radio station, communication typically requires speaking into a microphone and listening on 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 2011 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 lifelong 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 said. “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.”
Getting On the Air with JOTA
The 55th Jamboree on the Air is October 20-21, 2012. The official hours are 0000 (local time) Saturday, October 20 (right at midnight Friday) through midnight (local time) Sunday, October 21 (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 this frequency.
These frequencies are the “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 Worked All Germany Contest (WAG) will be on the air during JOTA. In the spirit of Scouting, WAG organizers have arranged for the following “contest-free” frequencies during JOTA:
- 80 meters -- 3.650-3.700 MHz
- 40 meters -- 7.080-7.140 MHz
- 20 meters -- 14.100-14.125 and 14.280-14.350 MHz
- 15 meters -- 21.350-21.450 MHz
- 10 meters -- 28.225-28.400 MHz
There is no contest traffic on the 17, 12 and 6 meters bands. This leaves all World Scout Frequencies (see above) in the clear on those bands. If however, you experience any interference from the WAG contest, please move to the “contest-free” segments to enjoy an interference-free contact.
2012 JOTA Theme: How Big Is Your World?
This year’s JOTA theme -- How Big Is Your World? -- is an invitation to Scouts to reflect on how they can enlarge their own world by interacting with others, while using modern methods of communication. Scouts are encouraged to let Scout friends from around the globe step into their world by sharing thoughts, feeling, emotions, ideas, proposals and projects.. Hams can certainly resonate with this idea, since Amateur Radio enables personal connections to people all around the world and so often does generate life enriching friendships.
How Scouts Can Participate
In the US, JOTA is primarily a Boy Scout event, though girls are welcome to participate. 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 Amateur Radio Operators Can Participate
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.
For more information on the 55th Jamboree on the Air, visit these links:
- The ARRL’s JOTA web page: http://www.arrl.org/jamboree-on-the-air-jota
- The World Organization of the Scout Movement’s JOTA web page: http://www.scout.org/en/information_events/events/jota/the_55th_jota_2012
- The Boy Scouts of America’s JOTA web page: http://www.scouting.org/jota.aspx
“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. You may just hook some new operators for your efforts.” Thanks to the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA for information.