JOTA Guidelines for Amateur Radio Operators

JOTA is a spectacular opportunity to introduce Scouts to amateur radio. For many, this will be their first exposure to the world of ham radio. Some will go on to become hams, enjoying the hobby for a lifetime. A few will even find the basis of a career in science and technology.

We’ve assembled a fair bit of information here to help you work with your Scouting partner in setting up this event. You should also consult the American Radio Relay League information at .

Licensing Regulations

As a licensed amateur radio operator, you must, of course, comply with FCC regulations regarding frequencies, power, quality of signal, etc. Third-party traffic is approved by the FCC. Therefore, Scouts can talk with other Scouts when both stations are licensed by the FCC. When the station you are in contact with is outside U.S. jurisdiction, a third-party agreement must exist between the U.S. and that country’s telecommunications authority. If an agreement exists, then Scouts in the U.S. may talk directly to the Scouts in that country. If not, then the licensed ham radio operator must talk for the Scouts. The full list of countries with a designation of which countries have third-party agreements with the U.S. is at this link: .

Operating Rules

  • All radio operators must operate their station strictly in accordance with FCC regulations.
  • Stations should try to contact each other by calling “CQ Jamboree” or “CQ JOTA” or by answering other stations sending this call.
  • Any authorized amateur radio frequency may be used. It is suggested that the frequencies listed below be used, at least for a starting point. Once contact is established, you can move to another frequency to leave the calling frequency open for others.
  • Any amateur mode of operation can be used such, as CW, SSB, PSK, SSTV, FM, and satellite. The more modes in operation, the more exciting the event will be for the Scouts.
  • JOTA is not a contest. The idea is to contact other Scout stations and allow as many Scouts as possible to talk to other Scouts and learn about who they are and what they are doing. You might think about counting the Scouts on both sides of the QSO rather than the number of QSOs!


Check your insurance coverage for your equipment and, if the Scouts are visiting your ham station, your premises. This is just one more element to verify before the event to avoid any problems repairing or replacing equipment damaged during the event.


You’re encouraged to send news releases of the event to your local newspapers and television and radio stations. You can encourage photographers to attend the event. You can also forward photos to your local news media, including weekly papers. A sample news release is included on this website. For more on publicity, see our guide at Scouting Publicity Guide.

General Guidelines

  • Jamboree-on-the Air is about getting young people to talk to each other using amateur radio.
  • Arrange for the use of a club call sign, or apply for a special-event call sign in plenty of time.
  • Prepare some simple diagrams and explanations showing how radio works and how signals can be transmitted around the world as well as to the nearest repeater.
  • Arrange with the Scout leaders regarding venue, QSL cards, patches, participation certificates, other activities, physical arrangements, publicity, and details required for the JOTA report form on this website.
  • Notify the national JOTA organizer of your event using the details on the registration form on this site.
  • Go to Scout meetings beforehand to introduce the subject.
  • Organize activities such as kit building, soldering practice, SSTV, FSTV, packet radio, and weather satellite reception. The simplest of things, such as a closed-circuit RTTY station, can generate a great deal of excitement.
  • Offer to train Scouts for the Radio merit badge.
  • Offer a Technician license preparation course for those interested in learning and doing more with ham radio.
  • Ensure that no more than three Scouts are watching one Scout on the air. Keep Scouts involved and active or they will quickly grow bored.
  • Ensure that the station is safe for young visitors.
  • Observe your license conditions, especially regarding third-party traffic.
  • Involve the Scouts in the contact. The goal is to involve as many Scouts as possible in making a contact. It is not to maximize the number of contacts or the distance of the contacts; it’s about the experience for the Scouts.
  • Try to use plain, understandable English where possible. When you do use Q-signals and other ham radio terms, take time to explain them to the Scouts.
  • Don’t try to work weak stations from remote locations. Go for stronger, more local stations that unpracticed ears can hear easily and understand. Local FM repeaters can be just as exciting for Scouts.
  • Don’t feel you have to keep the station on the air with no Scouts present.