This year the JOTA was hosted at Cederville State Forest as part of the annual Scout Fall Camporee. On Friday, 14 Oct, Bob (KB3KOW) arrived around 1600 before the Scouts and set up an operating station outside of one of the bath houses in the youth group area. This was to allow easy access to a power source. After getting the pop-up in place and a dipole strung in the trees, he went off to do other camporee related tasks.
It picked that night to dip into the low 40’s, so tent camping was nice and brisk! At 0600, minus any sunlight but armed with a trusty flash light, Bob continued to break out the HF radio, power supply and other bits needed. In addition to ‘radio’ being offered, a table was set up with some CW Keys and oscillators.
About 0715 Rob (N2OMC) arrived and assisted with final set up and testing. About 0900 the Scouts started coming in groups of 10, so they were divided between the radio and the CW table. The time slots were about 45 minutes, so each group got about 20 minutes of both before they had to move on.
All was working pretty good until about 25 Scouts showed up at the same time. After a few minutes one group realized they were in the wrong location and corrected themselves, but we still had a larger than normal group, so we worked it as best we could.
Rob ran the HF and Echolink side of comms and worked to get the Scouts on the air to at least say hello to someone. The bands were pretty busy with the New York QSO Party and the normal nets but we were able to contact a number of stations via HF to include Florida, New York Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In fact, station N2MO in NJ was excellent as the control ops there was a teen (at least our opinion based on the sound of his voice) and he worked his Scouts through their end of the QSO.
Mean while Bob was manning the CW table. The scouts had a chance to practice a bit and then were asked to send their names or some word. In almost all the cases Bob was able to decode what they were saying and we had a few returnees to the table to try again. I did note that the older Scouts were more interested in the oscillator, which Charles (AA3WS) kited up for use during the JOTA but the younger Scouts had more interest in sending the code.
We were also visited by Lee (N3WYZ) who brought along his Satellite set up to try to make some contacts via
one of the Amateur Radio Satellite repeaters as well as the ISS and for each attempt he had a good number of
Scouts around him asking questions and tracking what was going on.
We continued to operate until about 1800 when most of the Scouts were back at their campsites cooking food
as part of an evening cooking contest with a secret ingredient, so we broke the site down.
One thing that was done this year is each group of Scouts had their own FRS radio for use. For the most part,
they maintained some form of radio discipline and made good use of the radio during the day to report their
position or ask questions.