You know how to quiet down an otherwise boisterous Cub Scout? Tell him to say something on amateur radio. HA!
Oh, that isn't always the case, but it's happened often enough to make it funny. (With a little encouragement, even the most mike-shy Scout usually warms up to the task, though.) Anyway, today I'm gonna tell you a little bit about JAMBOREE ON THE AIR, also known as JOTA.
A jamboree is defined as a joyful, noisy gathering, and when you throw a bunch of Scouts together, that's exactly what you get. JOTA combines the jamboree part with ... amateur radio. The idea is to teach Scouts about radio, and to get them ...
|ON the air, as opposed to IN it.|
JOTA was held for the first time back in 1957, when a British ham, G3BHK, came up with the brilliant idea. Now, it occurs every year on the third weekend in October, and to give you an idea of how popular this event is, in 2010, more than 700,000 Scouts participated from nearly 6000 amateur radio stations around the world. In addition to Scouts speaking via radio to other Scouts and earth-bound adults, astronauts sometimes get on the air with them, too. In 2010, astronaut Mike Fossum, KF5AQG, participated from aboard the International Space Station.
Even though many Scout leaders are amateur radio operators, they still rely on the support and assistance of many non-Scouting hams from the community to help teach the kids about electronics and amateur radio, and to help them earn related badges, and even to learn what they need to get their amateur radio licenses.
Nate Maas, Scoutmaster of Troop 308 in San Luis Obispo, California, kindly allowed me the use of the following JOTA pictures:
|About to work on circuit boards.|
|One of their completed oscillators.|
|Learning how to send TV signals via amateur radio.|
|Alex just talked to a Scout in Idaho!|
|Mitchell's ready to go fox hunting with his homemade antenna.|
One of my favorite JOTA stories is about a Scout from Albany, Georgia. When a reporter covering JOTA for the local newspaper heard that he'd gotten his amateur radio license a few days earlier, she asked him what he thought about being a ham. He told her, I don't know yet. I was only a piece of bacon last week.