Apply Ham Radio to All Scouting Activities

W3LNE calling CQ, CQ, CQ for all Scout Ham radio operators, CQ, CQ, CQ.

If you are you a Ham and a Scout, I have a question for you. Have you integrated Ham Radio into all of your Scouting events?

If you haven’t, why not? If you have, I want to hear from you and what you are doing.

Ham radio is all about fun, safety, and learning new things, just like Scouting. You may have even gotten into Ham Radio or learned Morse Code through Scouting. As a Ham you have technical expertise in many fields that can help your Troops explore new Merit Badges with a Ham Radio twist, this is Radio Scouting.

2 Scouts on radioImagine this scenario; As you are gathering for your weekend hiking and camping trip, you hear several of your Scouts on the local repeater reporting that they are on the way to the rendezvous point and telling others, with excitement, about their upcoming weekend. As they arrive you can hear several of them telling their parents to listen on the linked repeater for a check-in at 2100 tonight and another says they will try to get a health and welfare message out at 2030. Everyone loads up in the cars but not before coordinating a simplex frequency for the convoy. On the highway one of the Scouts with his General ticket makes a few HF contacts on the Scoutmasters mobile HF rig. In one of the other cars, some of the designated APRS Scouts are trying APRSout a miniature TNC to report the convoys’ location by APRS. Another Scout checks his smart phone and confirms they are tracking on APRS via the Internet. Along the way several repeaters are checked into and the weather forecast checked and weather alerts are turned on in their HTs.

At the trail head, the Scouts divide into two Patrols and confirm the primary repeater coverage and a backup secondary simplex channel and confirm the check-in schedule, of course with 2 deep leadership. At the last Troop meeting they had preprogrammed their HTs and planned activities, reviewed Long Tone Zero (LiTZ) procedures, the Wilderness Protocol, and RF exposure limits. As they hike, they chit chat on simplex and checked-in with the other Patrol. Along the way the Patrols stopped at a few high spots for some hill topping contacts, with great success.

Mt toppingAs the Patrols arrived at their campsite, they divided up the tasks and put the tents up and got squared away. Of course they put up a twin lead VHF/UHF antenna they had learned how to build at the last JOTA. They also placed a homemade 20 M dipole in a couple of trees to try some CW and phone on their QRP rig. They had set up a sched on a Radio Scouting blog with some Troops across the country to QSL with. Two Scouts are sent to get water from the spring 1/2 mile down a side trail and report back a good water source and that they are returning via their HTs. They make some great contacts on 20 M after dark and can’t wait for tomorrow. Several Scouts sitting around the campfire talking about what it would take to do a moon bounce on the next campout as they can practically reach out and touch the full moon.

fun cubeThe next morning the Scouts are buzzing about the longest contact they made last night, over 5,062 miles on 10 watts wire to wire, can’t do that with a cell phone. As they reach the midpoint of the hike, they arrive at a clearing and break out their satellite Yagis and get set up for their Fun Cube Satellite pass and later in the afternoon, hopefully, the ISS (International Space Station) contact.

As the Scouts return home many are thinking about the upcoming QRP rig building class and the tour of the County Emergency Operations Center. Some are working on their Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects as part of their Programming and Robotics Merit Badges. They have discovered there are so many Merit Badges and Scout activities that have a connection to Amateur Radio, that it is hard to believe.

GetStarted-third-party-scouts-colorThis may sound like a pipe dream but this could be a typical outing for your Scouts combining Scouting and Amateur Radio. Exploring all the Merit Badges that will be easier to complete with their new knowledge. Planning a high adventure canoeing trek for the fall with their radio gear with them. In fact they can plan every activity with Amateur Radio as an integral part of the event. Scouting leaders and parents will feel they run a safer and richer program for their Scouts. They also will know that they are building lifelong skills that will be used in future jobs and in service to their communities.

I can think of at least 14 Merit Badges that can be directly related to Amateur Radio (Aviation, Digital Technology, Electricity, Electronics, Emergency Preparedness, Energy, Engineering, Geocaching, Radio, Robotics, Search and Rescue, Signs, Signals and Codes, Space Exploration. Weather) and an additional 13 indirectly related (Astronomy, Backpacking, Climbing, Camping, Fire Safety, Kayaking, Lifesaving, Motorboating, Photography, Safety, Small-Boat Sailing, Whitewater, Wilderness Survival).

Scout with yagiI believe our Scouts today represent our leaders of tomorrow. They will be our innovators, experimenters, entrepreneurs and explorers. Through Radio Scouting we can help them develop the skills they need to meet the challenges of tomorrow. With greater exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) their opportunities of success will be increased.

Today we all use radio technology in our cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, WiFi, and high-resolution pictures from Pluto 3 billion miles away by radio.

We as Amateurs are using some of the most basic and sophisticated equipment on the market. We build our own antennas, use digital signal processing, build satellites and have one of the largest frequency spectrums allocated to us for emergency support and experimentation. We have had a vital function providing communications at every national disaster this country has ever had.

Yagi Mt topWith the availability of inexpensive dual band HTs, no code testing, and online practice testing websites, there are few hurdles to keep your Scouts from earning their licenses.

So join me in sharing your skills, knowledge and expertise and mentor our Scouts by starting or expanding the role of Amateur Radio in your Troop and Council. I challenge you to take on this important job and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed and will have fun along the way.

I hope to hear about all your great successes and how you are making Radio Scouting part your next Scout activity.

Yours in Scouting

Don Kunst

EMT-P Tactical, BSIT, ASM T151, W3LNE, SCTF, IMT

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