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RememberSchiff

60th JOTA Participation down 27% from 2016

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Nearly 8,000 Scouts got on the air for the 60th Jamboree on the Air (JOTA http://www.arrl.org/jamboree-on-the-air-jota) over the third weekend in October, National JOTA Coordinator Jim Wilson, K5ND, said. This week, Wilson released the 2017 JOTA report https://www.k2bsa.net/jota-usa-reports/, which declared, "Radio Scouting and Jamboree on the Air are alive and doing well." Facilitating the October JOTA activity were more than 900 radio amateurs at 525 stations.

"Propagation wasn't our friend, but, even so, [radio amateurs in] almost 90 countries and all 50 states engaged in conversations with Scouts during the weekend," Wilson said. "In addition to HF, VHF, and UHF, many Amateur Radio digital modes were in use, as well as online Jamboree on the Internet channels."

The tally for JOTA 2017 was 7,872 Scouts on the air, which, Wilson pointed out, was down from the 10,761 who took part in JOTA 2016, but more in line with 2015's participation. Reports were filed by 226 JOTA locations.

"The Boy Scouts of America National Radio Scouting Committee will be exploring several improvement projects for 2018," Wilson said. These would include establishing a JOTA Frequency Task Force to explore updated frequency listing and operating recommendations, looking into new ways to alert participants in real time about other JOTA stations that are on the air.

The Radio Scouting Committee's work in 2017 resulted in the introduction of new Radio Merit Badge requirements https://www.k2bsa.net/radio-merit-badge-2/, which included a new option for Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) -- or "foxhunting." The panel also developed documents to help Scout leaders incorporate radio and JOTA in their unit activities.

Wilson pointed out that the K2BSA operation at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree https://www.k2bsa.net/2017-jamboree-report/ in July introduced Amateur Radio to nearly 2,500 Scouts, with 305 earning the Radio Merit Badge.

Source:

http://www.eham.net/articles/40460

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Laurel Highlands Council contributed to that drop by denying a scouter from setting up his HAM set at Camp Guyasuta, which was quite busy that weekend.  He set up at the parking lot at the scout shop. Instead of hundreds, only a dozen participated.

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@RememberSchiff, I think you should also add STEM (or STEAM, since agriculture is now one of the electives?) as a topic tag.

It seems to me that any council who promoted STEM Scouts should have herded all of those program participants to JOTA.

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Is this event roughly the same date every year? This was to be our first year to participate but with the newly expanded Fall Break school schedule, we were out of town (hiking the AT) and could not easily coordinate such so we missed it.

If it is the same date every year, then I wonder if the change in school schedules might be impacting attendance a bit.

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It just is not promoted that much and people are just not aware of it. We have had a long time scouter who was one of the JOTA sites so a lot of our cubs and scouts have participated. A lot of operators here in Florida were relaying messages to and from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria; that opened some eyes.

I see a good link with Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Laurel Highlands Council contributed to that drop by denying a scouter from setting up his HAM set at Camp Guyasuta, which was quite busy that weekend.  He set up at the parking lot at the scout shop. Instead of hundreds, only a dozen participated.

I saw that at a event, the HAM demonstration was put so far away from all the action (all they needed was a picnic table and a plug) that it saw little traffic. The boys that got into it really dug it.

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1 minute ago, Hawkwin said:

Is this event roughly the same date every year? This was to be our first year to participate but with the newly expanded Fall Break school schedule, we were out of town (hiking the AT) and could not easily coordinate such so we missed it.

If it is the same date every year, then I wonder if the change in school schedules might be impacting attendance a bit.

School may be a factor in some places, but my council made an executive decision that left JOTA with a 26% instead of 25% drop. The general strategy of scouters who donate their own time and equipment to this activity is simple:

  1. find where a large number of scouts will be.
  2. Set up there.

The JOTA set-up generally requires a table and a power source. Rarely does anyone turn them down. Never have I heard of their own council doing it. Like @Tampa Turtle says, they only ask for a quiet corner so they only attract a couple of scouts at a time, but over the course of a day at a busy camporee, those number add up.

For anyone with interested scouts with other plans ...

If they are at Saturday AM/PM school activities, they could invite a HAM operator to set up at the school. Bring their friends.

Out in the middle-of-nowhere? Ask around if any operators have a mobile set-up and enjoy hiking or are willing to arrange a rendezvous point.

How middle-of-nowhere can an operator get? Not about JOTA, but I love this story http://kc8qvo.blogspot.se/2008/10/backpacking-in-dolly-sods-wilderness.html (pictures don't load any more, but still a nice blog). Do you really think a guy like this would pass up an opportunity to help scouts like yours get into his hobby?

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Good information.  Our cub Pack is usually camping the day of Jamboree on the Air and I think the Troop camped the same weekend this year.  If setting up a ham radio is easy, then it seems like it would be a cool thing to get into.   I don't know any ham radio operators, but I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to find someone.

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1 hour ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Good information.  Our cub Pack is usually camping the day of Jamboree on the Air and I think the Troop camped the same weekend this year.  If setting up a ham radio is easy, then it seems like it would be a cool thing to get into.   I don't know any ham radio operators, but I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to find someone.

find out who offers the radio merit badge in your district and try to hook up with them that camping weekend

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I think you need time; it is not a drop in for 10 minute things. And really only a few boys at a time. But almost everyone I know who has done it has liked it.

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I really wanted to do it this year with my son, but it was a busy weekend, and we just couldn't make it work. 

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