Late this week I’m heading to the National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia. I’ll be joined initially by 8,000+ fellow staff members who will be operating everything from the dining hall to mountain biking to zip lines. I’ll be at the K2BSA amateur radio operation with some 40+ staff members who will be providing amateur radio demonstrations, direction finding fox-hunting courses, and Radio merit badge training. You can see the photo above of most of the K2BSA staff members at the 2013 Jamboree.
Every one of those 8,000+ staff volunteers have somehow managed to arrange two weeks off and paid $850 for their meals and lodging, plus the cost to get to West Virginia. They’ve also trained for their staff assignment, passed a medical exam, and taken youth protection training. All for the privilege of sleeping in a tent, taking cold showers, and working long hours.
To them, and to me, it’s well worth it. All of them have been involved with Scouting for years and quite typically decades. They’ve experienced first hand the impact that Scouting has had on their lives and they want to continue to pay it forward for the next generation of Scouts.
After the staff have everything set up, roughly 35,000+ Scouts will arrive at the Jamboree. It’s hyped to be the time of their lives and it could well be. The Summit boasts some incredible facilities that includes BMX, skateboarding, mountain biking, zip lines, canopy tours, challenge courses, climbing, shooting sports, archery, and more. And those facilities are all world-class with the very best consultants brought in for the design and construction. It truly is an amazing facility.
But it doesn’t stop there. They will also participate in a day of service. Projects have been determined throughout the local area and Scouts will team up to complete those projects over the course of the Jamboree. They are giving back to West Virginia for their incredible hospitality.
Just like the rest of the Jamboree, amateur radio is a world-class operation. With 40+ staff members, all highly experienced in amateur radio and Scouting, we’ll be introducing amateur radio to 3,000+ Scouts via our demonstration station. Amateur radio direction finding will be used to introduce fox-hunting — finding hidden transmitters using directional antennas.
We’ll also offer Radio merit badge training with classes starting every hour on the hour for minimal wait times, 90 minutes in class learning radio operation, 30 minutes with a radio on the air making contacts with ham radio operators, and another 90 minutes on the remaining requirements for the badge. In less than four hours, Scouts will have earned the badge.
Our sponsors are Icom America, who’s the official transceiver supplier for the Jamboree, DX Engineering, and MFJ Enterprises. Icom also installed three repeaters at the Summit in 2013 and updated them for the 2017 operation. The equipment supplied by our sponsors has really ramped up our operation.
One of our special events will be a scheduled contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station, with 10 Scouts selected to make that contact. We’ll also be launching one or perhaps two balloons with amateur radio payloads that are expected to cross the Atlantic during the Jamboree, and afterwards complete at least one circumnavigation of the globe.
Getting the Word Out
Getting on the air from the Jamboree requires that other stations pick up our call and engage in conversations with the Scouts at our station. That requires other stations getting on the air and looking for us along with some favorable radio propagation conditions. To get the word out to stations, we’ve been doing a fair bit of promotion.
The June issue of QST Magazine, the official magazine of the ARRL, carried an article about both Jamboree and Jamboree on the Air. Amateur Radio Newsline has been carrying a Scouting related story nearly every week for the past few months. Ham Radio Now conducted a live video interview earlier this year. And recently we appeared on Ham Talk Live discussing the Jamboree as well as Ham Radio 360. This week Amateur Radio Roundtable hosted by Tom Medlin, W5KUB, had us on his show. All the credit for this amazing amount of exposure belongs to Bill Stearns, NE4RD, who directs all our radio scouting publicity.
Making a Difference
As you can tell, there’s a great deal of effort expended by lots of people to pull off such a big event. To me, it’s all about making a difference. Making a difference in the lives of Scouts but also in the lives of Scouting volunteers. For both, that means putting on a well-organized operation — an operation that they will appreciate and be proud to invest their time and effort.
Band of Brothers and Sisters
For me, the biggest thrill is getting to work with such talented staff members. These are people whose day jobs include corporate executives, secretaries, scientists, programmers, technicians, and many other highly skilled positions. They bring their talent and experience to bear on our operation — and make all the difference. It is such a delight to work with them.
Plus, they bring such excitement and enthusiasm to the entire effort. They’re so eager to provide the best experience possible for the Scouts — sharing their love of amateur radio, in this case, and working so hard to provide the best experience possible. It’s just such a delight to work with this band of brothers and sisters. And, when you’re a workaholic like me, that’s a mountaintop experience.
It’s Your Turn
What are you doing in your PathForeWord? There are so many ways to get involved in volunteer activities and pay it forward for others. It will make a huge difference in your life and provide rewards that cannot be purchased at any price. Get engaged and make a difference.