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YOTA 2019 Summer Camp in Bulgaria Spawns Subregional Camps


Most of those attending the just-ended Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) summer camp in Bulgaria were first-timers, observed Monty, OE3VVU, a participant this year. Some 80 young radio amateurs from 27 countries convened near Sofia August 11 – 17 to, as he put it, “connect and learn from each other.” Monty said the successful 2019 summer camp demonstrated that YOTA is growing quickly, noting too that 40% of the YOTA Summer Camp attendees were young women.

During the week, campers engaged in a variety of workshops that included such activities as building VHF and HF antennas and assembling electronic kits, which, for many, meant learning how to solder. Monty said the focus of the activities and presentations involved learning from each other.

“YOTA is shifting more and more towards a ‘youngsters for youngsters’ approach, where youngsters teach each other, rather than relying on older generations for input,” he said. “A number of participating youth teams presented their youth activities.” As an example, he cited a presentation by the Finnish team that offered insight into the Nordics On The Air subregional camp.

“The main goal of the YOTA summer camp is to give youngsters the ideas, knowledge, and experiences they require to go back to their home country at the end of the week and start their own youth activities,” he said. “The practical workshops are mostly easily reproducible, so that youngsters could use them to introduce new young people into the hobby. For example, youngsters might do a kit building workshop at a local school or use the antenna built at the camp to do a [Summits On The Air] activation together with some new youngsters.”

Subregional camps such as those held in Finland, Italy, and Germany in recent years are becoming more common in Region 1, with the next set for late September in the Czech Republic (OL19CAMP), followed closely by a camp in the Netherlands in December.

“The idea behind a subregional camp is to bring together around 30 youngsters for an extended weekend,” he explained, noting that these gatherings offer another avenue to attract newcomers to Amateur Radio and show them how interesting and exciting it is.

Monty pointed out that the camps can gain radio clubs new members, generate excitement among existing members as they organize the event, and be put together with a reasonable budget, as the camp in Italy cost participants just 25 Euros a day.

He anticipates many other youth teams will want to stage subregional YOTA camps of their own. “What the participants learned at the YOTA summer camp will be an invaluable resource for organizing subregional camps and youth activities on any scale,” he concluded.

Bulgaria’s International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society, BFRA, sponsored the 2019 YOTA Summer Camp. 



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