I was an adult leader for my son Josh’s Scout Troop during their summer at Hidden Valley Scout Camp in Gilmanton, NH. I set up a field radio to introduce amateur radio to the 40 or so co-ed Scouts in Troop 119, Lexington.
From our troop’s campsite we made 47 two-way contacts to 6 different countries. Our most distant contact was from NH to Italy, 6,569 km.
Most afternoons during the week, I operated the radio in the camp site. Curious Scouts would come by to ask questions about what I was doing.
On Wednesday, I was able set up a pre-arranged contact with W1TEN, Greg who is another Scout Leader in NH.
A sked is a pre-arranged or scheduled contact between ham radio operators.
W1TEN was operating about 44 miles away from our campsite. Such a close distance for High Frequency bands meant that we would have to rely on ground wave propagation rather than sky wave propagation which is less predictable. Would it work? Would Greg’s station be in our radio’s skip zone?
The ARRL has an excellent paper on HF propagation called Radio Waves and the Ionosphere
It worked fine! Greg, some Scouts and I talked and learned about amateur radio together. We were joined by N1ATE, Nathan, who was the Radio Merit Badge Counselor at Hidden Valley.
When I was a teenager I worked at Katahdin Scout Reservation as a camp counselor for 4 summers. Nathan (N1ATE), mentioned above, is the son of a long time friend and coworker from those years. Spending time with Ben’s son Nate was a real privilege and brought back many fond memories of my own time as a Scout.
Greg had recently worked as a volunteer for K2BSA, Radio Scouting at the 2023 National Scout Jamboree at The Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. He was well practiced in working with Scouts over the radio and conversing with them on the air.
JOTA, Jamboree on the Air is happening this October 20-23, 2023. You can learn more at https://www.jotajoti.info
We operated for a few hours in the afternoon over the rest of the week. We had rain the last two days and I was usually operating with a couple Scouts sitting with me and helping by copying into the log book or adjusting the VFO knob.
Many of the radio operators were incredibly patient with the Scouts and spent time with the Scouts to explain radio concepts and ways to enjoy the hobby. I came away very grateful to them and proud to belong to the amateur radio community. Thank you!
I think we got some Scouts hooked. In the Fall we’ll be offering the Radio Merit Badge and I think we’ll have a strong turnout. The radio operators on the other end were really generous with their time and were patient as the Scouts talked on the air.
Here’s a photo of our nighttime operations.