COVID-19 Guidance for Radio Scouting Activities

We’ve pulled together the following information on dealing with COVID-19 that may prove useful to your Radio Scouting activities.

Please note that each state, municipality, and Scout council have their own guidance for addressing COVID-19 issues surrounding Scouting activities. You’ll need to take those into account when considering any Radio Scouting activities.

As starting points, we recommend the following online resources:

Work closely with your local Scout council and health authorities as guidelines are open to change as local conditions change.

We’ve also pulled together these comments about Jamboree on the Air and the Radio Merit Badge from Bill Stearns, NE4RD, Scouts BSA JOTA Team Lead and President of K2BSA ARA, as well as Gary Wilson, K2GW, the Scouts BSA Radio Merit Badge Subject Matter Expert.

Here’s what they have to say specifically about the QSO requirement for the Radio Merit Badge:

Bill, NE4RD — 
As was discussed during the Ham Expo, connecting your rig to a zoom/google meet/skype call is completely possible.  If an operator can figure out how to run WSJT-X, shouldn’t take much more effort to get voice to pass through to the rig.
Gary, K2GW — 
Bill’s right, but it gets even easier.  The contact requirement can be done with a simulated  QSO, even to the point of squeezing the PTT switch on an imaginary HT in the Scouts hand.
“Using proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations, carry on a 10-minute real or simulated amateur radio contact using voice, Morse code, or digital mode.”
I recently counseled two Scouts remotely where they simulated a QSO with me over FaceTime, then watched me via FaceTime make a real contact and took a tour of my shack remotely for their station visit.

Our sense is that you could easily complete the entire Radio Merit Badge through online options.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments to this post. We’re sure there are many creative options available to continue with Radio Scouting activities during our stay-at-home time as well as engaging in Jamboree on the Air, October 16, 17, 18.

National Jamboree 2021 Postponed

Communications were received yesterday from the 2021 National Jamboree Executive Leadership Team that the National Jamboree 2021 has been postponed due to the unpredictability of the pandemic and its impact on local councils.

The Boy Scouts of America is committed to the safety of all youth in our programs. Planning, preparations, and decisions regarding National Jamborees take place months, and even years, in advance. The unresolved issues surrounding the pandemic make it exceedingly difficult to plan and prepare for a premiere event of this size in a way that continues to keep the safety of Scouts, volunteers, staff, and communities at the forefront.

Thank you to all the volunteers that signed up to be on staff at the K2BSA Amateur Radio Station!  We look forward to the rescheduling of this event and your continued support of our operations at the National Jamborees.

Jamboree 2021 Call for Operators

We’re getting ready for the largest Scout gathering in the United States coming Summer 2021.  We’re looking for operators to be on staff at the K2BSA demonstration station and Radio Merit Badge area.

The operations plan is in the works.  This time we’re going to be focusing on demonstrating Voice and CW operations on HF/VHF/UHF and satellite.  As well, we will most likely be doing Radio Merit Badge, Morse Code Interpreter Strip, balloon launch(es), and Amateur Radio Direction Finding.

If you think you’re interested in serving on staff at the National Jamboree, please consider applying on the national site by navigating here then fill out our survey here to get in line for interviews.  If you are not sure but still want to interview, please submit the survey.  Training for your position will start towards the end of 2020, but apply early to ensure your inclusion in this event!

WB4SA Telegraph Encrypt/Decrypt Game

WB4SA Central Florida Council – Radio Scouting Program

May 16th, 2020 is our Cub Pioneer Days Cuboree, an 1800’s theme event with Native American exhibits, cooking, camping and several historical activities.
So how could I get our very active Radio Scouting program involved… bring in the the Telegraph and teach the scouts Morse code, through osmosis. Most of the Cubs already learned SOS, as we taught it to 12,300 scouts last year as part of our monthly events at council.
Telegraph Encrypt/Decrypt game
A fun game where Scouts have to transcribe a message and get it to their partner via telegraph. Their partner has to write it out, then send an answer back. They work as teams and the fastest teams of the day win prizes. They can repeat the game as many times as they like, getting a new phrase each time. Each station SET involves two Morse code straight keys a good distance form each so that a pair of scouts can communicate with each other. We can do two teams at a time.  The phrases they use are simple one line Scout jokes, one sentence each way. The first couple times take a while, but they slowly learn/memorize each letters ‘dit-da code’ so they start transcribing the sentence to Morse much faster the more times they do it.

Example phrases… #1 sends it to #2…#2 decodes it, then replys with #2 answer…#1 decodes and shows judge/time keeper.
Cub 1: How can you tell if a buffalo is under your sleeping bag?
Cub 2: The ceiling of your tent is very close.

Cub 1: What do you find between the hooves of buffaloes?
Cub 2: Slow buffalo hunters.

Cub 1: What do you get when you cross peanut butter with a buffalo?
Cub 2: You either get peanut butter that roams the range or a buffalo that sticks to the roof of your mouth.

Cub 1: How can you tell a buffalo from a field mouse?
Cub 2: Try to pick it up. If you can’t, it’s either a buffalo or a very overweight mouse.

Cub 1: What time is it when a buffalo sits in your canoe?
Cub 2: Time to get a new canoe.

73 & YIS (Yours in Scouting),

Ken Lyons, KN4MDJ / Trustee for wB4SA

BSA – Central Florida Council – www.RadioScouting.US

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