Larry Peterson, WB9KMW, provided this write up on the Fox Cities Amateur Radio Club’s Field Day Merit Badge Program. The FCARC is located in Menasha, Wisconsin, and from all appearances they are doing a great job of extending the reach of amateur radio within Scouting. Thanks for writing up and forwarding this story, Larry, and for all you and your club do for amateur radio and Scouting.
This story should provide lots of insight into things you can do for your own events, including Jamboree on the Air.
FCARC Field Day on Saturday, June 25, 2016
We had 28 scouts plus parents/troop leaders in attendance. I was amazed that our announcement attracted scouts from Green Bay to Sussex!
The welcoming began at 12:30 pm. We had a few scouts come earlier so they were given a tour of the Field Day ham radio grounds. We kicked off promptly at 1 pm and stayed right on schedule for the entire afternoon.
The program flow worked smoothly, as we were able to transition from classroom instruction to our three guest speakers who talked about careers in radio: Tony AB9IO Metrology, Paul KD9AYP Telecommunications and Steve W9APL Radio Engineer.
After a 20-minute refreshment break, we resumed classroom training on radios, components and circuits, and then at 3:30 pm we moved to the all-important ’10 minutes of air time’ for each scout.
Back-to-back, this radio air time would have taken 4 1/2 hours! But we developed a creative, simple, highly efficient process involving Badger Scout Assistance (BSA) nets. This could be scaled based on the number of scouts, from 4 to 10 scouts per net. Hence, we ran three nets on three separate 2 meter simplex frequencies. We oriented scouts, assigned radios (21 HTs in total), set up net control operations, did radio tests with legal identification, conducted simulated emergency nets which were clearly communicated as only a test, secured each Rover station with proper call identification at the end of their assignment and re-inventoried all radios in under 40 minutes. A heck of an accomplishment which went off without a hitch.
There were 18 scouts outside, six per net, operating as Rovers and color coded with tactical calls: red, white, blue, yellow, green and purple. Three hams were there to help guide them and keep them on task for this exercise.
Ken KC9RHW was the architect of this net concept. He put in a great deal of creative effort to conceive of and produce the signage for each ‘house.’ Here is one entertaining example, where a parakeet was lost on one street and reported by another scout as found on another street!
It was then back to classroom training. We wrapped things up at about 5:30 pm, as planned, and then scouts got in line to have their Radio merit badge workbook reviewed for completeness by one of our instructors, and then over to me to sign off on their ‘blue card’ to award them their Radio merit badge as a certified Radio merit badge counselor for the Gathering Waters scout district.
Many FCARC members felt this was a great thing to offer during Field Day. We may repeat the Radio merit badge every other year.
Next year we are already thinking about offering training for the Electronics merit badge.
Thanks very, very much to all who helped with setup or take down, who spoke to the scouts, who assisted with the emergency net simulation and who programmed and provided all those HTs in advance.
Was fun for us as well as the scouts.