Having a station in your council should be a primary goal of any group of radio scouters in a council without one. If your council has one do they have more then one summer camp location that still needs a station? The K2BSA station committee, comprised of active radio scouters across the country, has put together the below information to help ease the process getting permission and help with establishing a Camp station.
Step 1 Form a camp station committee.
Building a camp station can be a big endeavor and first impressions can go a long way with a summer camp director or Council employee. Camp directors and council employees already have a long list of things to get done, they are not looking to add to their work list. Presenting a concise ,thought out plan is crucial in building council support for the idea of a camp station. The camp station committee is one of the most crucial pieces of the overall project and should be well established before making any serious approach to the council about putting in a permanent summer camp station.
What is the definition of a camp station?
First make sure that your council does not already have a Radio Scouting committee. If there is an established committee then you are already one step closer to getting the station on the air. If you are not so lucky to have a Radio Scouting committee at the council level then you will need a station committee. Obvious members of the camp committee should be those radio Scouters that are looking to push the project forward. Do not overlook potential youth Scout radio operators that may be able to have some role in the planning of the station. However, other potential committee members can come from other parts of the radio community. Local clubs are worth approaching. Ask to present the camp station idea to the club members at a club meeting . Points worth talking about to clubs is involvement in teaching the radio merit badge. It may be worth printing off the Radio Merit Badge requirements so that club members can get a better idea of what they are being asked to do for the Scouts. Having local statistics such as how many Scouts attend summer camp every summer at the camp you are proposing the station to be at. It can be good to point out how the club members’ different interests could be taught to the Scouts during summer camp. For example if there are members of the club that are interested in Fox hunting explain how that can be a summer camp activity that exposes the boys to this great hobby. It is worthwhile checking with the council to see if they have a way to communicate your interest to the greater scouting community to find like minded scouts in your council. Also, don’t forget about the K2BSA membership! There may be a local ham that is not connected to any club or has any kids of scouting age that would be willing to help. You do not want the committee to be too big but you don’t want to go at this alone either. The idea of getting youth involved in our hobby is often discussed in all aspects of the hobby, this is an obvious point to make. This is great outreach to help grow the radio amateurs of the future. There are many talking points to consider. Here is a link to a list of them compiled by K2BSA.
There are a few points for the committee to wrap their minds around while formulating a plan to present to the council. One is that many councils will not have any interest if the project requires some financial assistance from them. Councils are already stretched thin trying to maintain the resources they already have. Adding a resource that they see as a liability will make this a tough idea for them to get behind. Asking the K2BSA committee for a letter of support may also help when you meet with the council to convince them that this is a worthwhile effort. If you are able to put together a camp station committee then the next logical step may be to take it one step further and create a Radio Scouting committee at the council level. Below is a link discussing the idea of a council level Radio Scouting committee.
Step 2 Approach to council
A good first step in approaching the volunteers before going to council staff. There are several ways to do this. One idea is to approach the International Scouting committee, if your council has one. This committee is always interested in JOTA. JOTA is one of few international scouting events that Scouts can take part in. Attending an international scouting event is a requirement for several scouting awards. A camp radio station provides a place that JOTA can be easily carried out. Making JOTA weekend a council campout is done in some councils. Going to a roundtable is a great way to reach out to leadership at the district level. Councils have multiple districts so trying to get to all of them to talk about the idea of a camp radio station would be good to build support from the idea. Below are some links with useful information to present to either of these groups.
This link could be prepared as a hand out for Round table, giving the adult leaders of the Troops ideas of how radio can fit into not only their summer camp but also their monthly meetings.
After building interest from the volunteers it is now time to approach the council staff. Hopefully they will get positive feedback from those who attend the International Scouting committee and the Roundtables, making your job of convincing them a camp station is a good idea easier. Some of the people at the council level to approach include the Program Director as well as the Camp Ranger. The program director wants to make sure that their limited resources are being used the best way possible to reach the most Scouts. Utilizing the information on the K2BSA website to help educate them on the stations utility as well as showing that you have the interest of the volunteers and have already developed a Camp station committee is helpful with this step.
This is not the only approach to the council that can be effective but for a group of Radio Scouters that may not have a close working relationship with the council this approach will likely lead to less headaches. Obviously other connections within the council leadership can be helpful, but it is usually a safe bet to start with convincing the already present scouting volunteers that a camp radio station is a worthy project.