By Ben Hart KC8DP
Chairman JOTA Committee
Simon Kenton Council
You might think that all Scouters are, by now, cognizant of annual Jamboree. Not so. A large percentage of the leaders schedule Troop and District events have no idea of the exist of this program. If you expect to get a large turnout for your JOTA efforts, you must first let them know what it is and how they can be involved.
HOW DO YOU GET THE MESSAGE TO THEM?
Council training courses include eleven leadership skills which are taught. "Using the Resources" is one of the most important. Certainly, in broadening the scope of a local JOTA event, the use of resources is a main key to success.
If your are a Ham radio operator, but not a scout you can participate in JOTA. Contact your local Boy Scout Council headquarters to find potential Scout leaders who are interested in the JOTA event. (Your council office can be found in you phonebook under Boy Scouts of America.)
Offer him (or her) your assistance to organize a J.O.T.A team. If you are already involved in the scouting program, consider selling the district Camping Commissioner on the JOTA experience and District participation.. Encourage him to schedule the District Fall Camporee during the third weekend in October. Volunteer to set up a radio station at the camporee location.
Enlist the aid of the Roundtable Commissioner. Contact him early and request time during the Roundtable meetings. Prepare a short presentation on the JOTA program and the scouting benefits. To get attendance and participation at the JOTA event, you must let them know what you are proposing and how you can help. In case some of the Troops in your District were not represented at the Roundtable, send a simple flyer to the Scoutmasters explaining what JOTA is and where it will be held.
Offer to attend a regular troop meeting and talk to the scouts. (Any Scoutmaster will welcome your offer to take part in his troop meeting.) Contact the closest radio club in your area and solicit their involvement. They will always jump at the chance to show off their equipment and how to use it.
Send an announcement to the local radio station. The will be happy to run a short message about your plans for the Jamboree. Local newspapers are always looking for local news. Write a story and give them a couple of photos from a prior Jamboree. Every Council has a periodical news paper. Write a short piece each month counting down to D-Day when the Jamboree is held.
But what about a radio operator who wants to work the Jamboree but is not a Scouter? Use the same set of rules modified to suit your conditions. Ask a Scoutmaster to let you come to a meeting and tell the scouts about your plans. Go to the District meeting and solicit help from the attendees. Offer to furnish the station and the operators.
The key to success is involvement. It will never happen until someone gets involved. Be that someone.
After the Jamboree is over don't be discouraged if the attendance falls short of your hopes. Encourage the boys who show up to sell their friends on the fun they had and suggest that they, too, attend next year. Do what it takes to experience growth each year.
Another key is Advertisement. No one ever took a part in anything if they didn't know it existed. To paraphrase the old minister..tell them what your are going to do...then tell them what you are doing..and then tell them what you did. Keep the discussion of the thrill of radio communication in the forefront of the plans for the coming year.
AFTER YOU HAVE TOLD THEM WHAT JOTA IS, THEN WHAT?
You must help find the Radio Operators that will set up and operate stations at some point that is convenient to the Scouts/Scouters that you are trying to involve.
DOES THIS "UP FRONT" ACTIVITY PRODUCE RESULTS?
The Simon Kenton Council of The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest Councils in the United States. It spans 17 counties in Ohio as well as a couple of counties in Northern Kentucky.
In 1998 for the first time the Council appointed an International Representative. He, in turn formed a committee of three Scouters. One of the Committees is known as "The JOTA Committee."
It was, and is, the charter of this committee to improve the emphasis on the annual Jamboree on the Air. Although a number of Scouter/ Radio Operators had enjoyed involvement in the Jamboree, it was a personal effort largely unobserved by the rest of the Council.
Early in the spring of 1998 a concerted effort was launched to bring as many Districts into the activity as possible. A letter was sent to every District Commissioner in the Council requesting the names of any Ham operators in his district. It seems obvious that the best first source of interested operators would be operators who are also involved with scouting.
Four Commissioners responded with several names each. All of these operators were contacted and all of them enthusiastically agreed to set up stations and operate during JOTA weekend.
Each month throughout the year a notice was placed in the Council newspaper, "Scouter". This brought additional responses. One group in Columbus had already started laying plans for a some what massive effort. This group sent out flyers to all of the Districts outlining all of the features of their program.
In addition to the flyers and bulletins several newspapers ran news stories about the up coming event. This was done several times during the year.
Scouters in the northernmost District in the Council, solicited assistance from the Delara Radio Club. The request was met with enthusiasm. During the Jamboree they set up stations at Camp Lazarus with adult Scouters keeping the logs.
A second station was set up in the Sunbury Community Library, a few miles south of Camp Lazarus. The operation here was 2 meters and 10 meters through a "fireplug vertical" (That is a vertical antenna tied to the Library fire plug for support.) The Cubs were allowed to "operate" off air with both a straight key and sounder or an automatic keyer. This seemed to fascinate them as much or more than talking on the radio.
To get the word out a display of vintage radio equipment was on display in the Library for a month prior to the Jamboree. A large poster was prominently displayed describing what was going to take place.
The third station was in the Hartford Fairground in Croton ,Ohio. This group made available an operating crystal set that met with enthusiasm from the Cub Scouts. Also they offered an electronic experimenter kit that the older Scouts enjoyed. This was a breadboard with a book of various experiments.
An electronics exhibit with various electrical components was setup and a leader was available to explain each component and its use. This operator also had a display of "home brew" emergency VHF antennas to demonstrate how they could be constructed and used.
Two operators took groups of scouts around the Fairgrounds to demonstrate what could and couldn't be done with a 2 meter handheld. In addition to demonstrating the handheld, the kids had an opportunity to work off some of their energy. This is a good idea, particularly if a number of Scouts show up at the same time. With a large group some of the boys grow restless while waiting for a chance to "Get on the air".
The fourth group was located in a large church in Columbus. This was in the Tri-Creek district.
This group offered the services of merit badge counselors for the Radio Merit badge as well as the First Aid Merit badge. Also made available were refreshments i.e. soft drinks and snacks. They also offered Jamboree souvenir printed T-shirts. A telephone call to an acquaintance with a license resulted in the Lancaster and Fairfield County Radio Club opening their club quarters for the Jamboree and operating through the weekend. Chief Logan camp in Jackson County was the cite of sixth station. The Ranger there knew that there was a troop camping nearby. He visited the troop and brought the scouts to the JOTA station to join in the fun. Serendipity in action!
The southernmost group operated as K2BSA from the Mineral Springs Campground in the extreme southern part of the state. There were six operators manning the stations. Of these , four were also Scouters. One of these Scouter/Operators is also a Scoutmaster. He brought his troop for a weekend campout. It seems that it is easier to attract Cub Scouts than Boy Scouts . The older boys are often involved in sports or other activities. The best way to attract them seems to be to encourage Districts to hold their fall camporee during JOTA week. If the scouts are already at the camp where JOTA is being held they will all visit the stations. Already two Districts in Simon Kenton Council have agreed to hold their fall camporee during the third weekend in October.
The Camping Commissioner for the remaining Districts that were not represented in JOTA '98 will be contacted and encouraged to plan their camping program to include JOTA. We are looking forward to a great JOTA'99.