Troop Program Feature: Radio

You can download this in PDF format at this link: Troop Meeting Plan-RADIO Rev2


Getting and Giving Information

Every human is constantly communicating through speech, reading, body language, even a raised eyebrow. We have many other means of sending and receiving messages, too—the telephone, television, radio, photographs and drawings, computers, recorded tapes, and compact discs. Besides amateur radio, your Scouts can explore some of the older means of communication such as Morse code, flags, and sign language. Each patrol might want to become

proficient in one means of communication and teach it to the others. The main event will be a send-the-word campout. Besides having contests in

communications skills, the troop can also work on other outdoor and nature skills. To top off your activities, you will want to have a troop campfire that provides an opportunity to use various means of communication.

Communication is an essential life skill—a critical skill—that all people need. The activities in this program feature will help your Scouts use a variety of radio communication techniques. It will also put Scouts on the road toward earning the Radio merit badge or other badges and awards related to radio.

Information: Radio

Related Advancement and Awards

  • Rank advancements (summoning help)
    • Tenderfoot 5b
    • Second Class 6d 6e
    • First Class 7d 7e
  • Radio Merit Badge
  • Aviation merit badge 2e and 4b
  • Citizenship In the World merit badge 7e (JOTA)
  • Communications merit badge (many requirements)
  • Electronics merit badge 4c (a radio circuit should qualify)
  • Citizenship In the World merit badge 7a (Amateur Radio Field Day) and 8a(2)
  • Engineering merit badge 6c
  • Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge 2 and 3a
  • Space Exploration merit badge 4d
  • Morse Code interpreter strip
  • Amateur Radio Operator rating strip

Advance Planning – Because the participation of amateur radio operators and their equipment will be needed for many of the associated activities, dates that they are available may dictate when some of the events can take place. It would be especially appropriate if the merit badge weekend or visits to amateur radio stations were to match the JOTA (Jamboree on the Air) weekend, the third full weekend in October (refer K2BSA).

Radio Communication: Another Key to Opening Doors – Communication is important to your life and radio communication is a special form of it. Being able to communicate effectively is key to achieving success. It is the way you get people to understand your values, interests, talents, abilities, needs, and wants.

  • Atmospheric conditions during transmitting and receiving may be far from ideal so that both you and the person you are talking to may need to listen especially carefully to understand what is being said
  • You and the person you are talking to may not normally speak the same language; one or both of you may need to communicate in a foreign language
  • If you are using Morse code, this is a foreign language too!

Good radio communication means more than just expressing yourself. It also involves listening carefully to others, knowing when it is your turn to speak and then saying what you want to say clearly and perhaps concisely. If you can communicate well, you will be better at just about everything you do, from Scouting to schoolwork to being a good friend.

There is no minimum age to getting an amateur radio license, the only requirement is being able to pass the exam. You do not need a license to use an FRS radio, a low-power handheld, unless you operate on GMRS frequencies. No license is needed for marine radios in pleasure boats operating on marine channels.

Why Study Radio Communication? If we learn to communicate naturally, why do we study radio communication? The answer is that we all can improve our communication skills if we practice them. That improvement means learning to be a better listener and a more confident speaker. According to the National Communication Association, “Communication is a learned skill. Most people are born with the physical ability to talk, but we learn over time to speak well and communicate effectively.”

Parent/Guardian Participation – The troop leadership can involve parents in the program feature this month by:

  • Asking qualified parents to assist with instruction for radio and signaling skills
  • Inviting parents on the campout
  • Asking parents to provide transportation to the starting point for the backpacking trek into camp, if necessary

Getting help in arranging to visit radio communications businesses such as an amateur radio station, broadcast station, or public service communications center.

MEETING PLANS & IDEAS: RADIO

OBJECTIVES

This month’s patrol and troop activities should:

  • Give Scouts the knowledge and skills to be comfortable in a variety of radio communication methods
  • Help Scouts to become radio communicators and
  • Introduce Scouts to a variety of radio communication
  • Help Scouts understand and overcome radio communication
  • Encourage Scouts to pursue radio-related
  • Introduce Scouts to careers in the radio communication
  • Build self-confidence by learning and demonstrating

LEADERSHIP PLANNING

During your planning meetings, you and your leadership team may want to discuss the following items when choosing radio as your program feature:

What do we want our main event to be?

  • Which merit badges would we like to focus on this month?
  • What adults in our unit have radio expertise?
  • Who else do we know who could serve as a radio instructor?
  • Are there areas in our unit where we struggle to communicate?
  • How can we involve parents?
  • How do we involve outside amateur radio operators?
  • To meet our needs, what should we change in the sample meeting plans?

You can find a meeting planning form at http://www.programresources.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Fillable-Meeting-Planning-Sheet.pdf

PRE-OPENING IDEAS

Pre-opening Ideas on Troop Program Resources

  • Invite a ham radio operator to set up at your meeting place so Scouts can experience amateur radio as they arrive. Introduce Scouts to the MorseCode interpreter strip and Amateur Radio Operator rating strip.
  • Although it is no longer necessary to know "CW" or Morse Code, it is still popular among ham radio operators. Have some practice buzzers available for scouts to try when they arrive. Some flashlights can also easily be used to send Morse by "lamp". Enlist the services of local amateur radio operators to
  • Have some practice buzzers available again for Morse code when they arrive. Try to send a message to another scout. Look at and use any Morse code oscillators built by scouts. Find out about any electronic kits built by
  • Practice saying something to another scout using the phonetic

OPENING IDEAS

Opening Ideas on Troop Program Resources

GROUP INSTRUCTION IDEAS

Communicating Online and Over the Air

Explain how a radio contact is made and the procedure to do so. Introduce proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations as used during radio contacts. Practice simulated radio contacts in preparation for JOTA. Design special QSL cards with Scouting themes for the JOTA weekend. QSL cards are exchanged with the other stations and Scouts you contact during JOTA.

Careers in Radio

Find out about three career opportunities in radio. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession.

Introduction to marine band radios:

This is the tool most boaters use to communicate with other boaters, the Coast Guard, barges, drawbridge tenders, etc. There are also marine weather channels, one of which may cover your area. Marine band radios are used on rivers, lakes, canals and the coastal waters of the USA and abroad.

Electrical Safety:

Learn about electrical safety and precautions to be taken against contact with overhead and underground wires. Learn about lightning strikes to antennas, homes and metal tent poles. Learn about what to do during thunderstorms while hiking and camping.

SKILLS INSTRUCTION IDEAS

The tables below are presented as first those topics that are essential, then those topics that are challenging, followed by those topics that are considered advanced.

Communicating Effectively

Have the Scouts list as many ways as they can think of to communicate by radio with others (by telephone; by email; by texting; ham radio voice, Morse and slow-scan TV; walkie-talkie GMRS; etc.). For each type of communication, have them name instances when that method would or would not be appropriate or effective.

Essential — Learn and practice the EDGE method.

  • Work on Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements as needed.
  • Practice talking to another Scout without interruption and say “over” when the other Scout may start his reply.

Challenging —  Review the EDGE method.

  • Learn how you would make an emergency call on voice or using Morse code:
    • When emergency messages should be sent
    • How and by what methods to make distress calls

Advanced — Review the EDGE method.

  • Discuss what role computers play in amateur radio
  • Discuss why emergency communications might be important and who provides it
  • Discuss SKYWARN and who can become involved

The EDGE Method: Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable the Scout to be successful.

Non-Verbal Communication

Essential — Discuss the following and when they might be used:

  • Morse code and how it might be sent
  • Semaphore

Challenging —  Review the history of Morse code and when it might be appropriate to use it. Why is it used today?

  • Introduce Scouts to the Morse Code interpreter strip.

Advanced —  Introduce:

  • Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge
  • Begin planning a campfire program or interfaith worship service to be conducted during the main event.

Communicating Online and Over the Air

Essential — Discuss (preferably by patrols):

  • What radio and amateur radio are
  • How amateur radio can help during emergencies
  • The phonetic alphabet
  • When scouts might need amateur radio
  • How radio waves travel
  • Ham radio communications

Challenging — Prepare lists by patrols of questions to ask over the air of scouts contacted during JOTA, perhaps from other countries.

  • Decide what is special about your local area to tell Scouts in other countries and other parts of the US.
  • Discuss these items with the other patrols and draw up a master list for all scouts to become familiar with
  • Share the lists prepared of items of local interest and questions to ask of other scouts when talking by radio.

Advanced — Introduce:

  • Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge
  • Continue plans for the main event campfire program or interfaith service

Careers in Radio

Essential — Review the list of radio-related merit badges. Encourage each Scout to pick one to work on in the months to come.

Challenging — Review the list of radio-related merit badges. Encourage each Scout to pick one to work on in the months to come.

Advanced — Introduce:

  • Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip
  • Finalize plans for the main event campfire program or interfaith service.

BREAKOUT GROUP IDEAS

Getting Ready for the Main Event 

  • Menu Planning (if applicable)
  • Duty Roster Planning (if applicable)
  • Patrols discuss what special items they will need for the main event
  • Plan the group’s portion of the campfire program or interfaith service

Preparation for the meeting’s game or challenge

By patrols, visit an amateur radio operator’s station to see how it works.

  • Learn about radio waves and their propagation

GAME AND CHALLENGE IDEAS

Team Building Activities on Troop Program Resources

Concentration

Scouts pair up with someone from another patrol. Choose a topic. Both scouts talk simultaneously face-to-face at close range for say 60 seconds. Loser is first to hesitate, pause, look away or make any break other than quick breaths. Patrol with least losers wins.

Signaling

  • Materials: for each patrol: Two Morse code references, paper and pencil. The sending method can be by buzzer or alternatively either with a small flag used as a signal flag or using a mirror; in the dark a flashlight could be
  • Method: Two Scouts from each patrol, serving as the sender and dictator, are stationed away from the rest of the patrol and effectively out of ear shot. The senders are given a short message to send. If it is a written message, it can be either in Morse code or in letters of the alphabet along with a Morse code reference. The receivers have a blank paper, a pencil, and their own Morse code reference for recording the message when it is sent.
  • When all are in position and ready, one sender dictates each letter of the message to the other one who sends it in Morse code using the buzzer or alternatively by one of the above methods. They obviously need to communicate and cooperate with one another. When a flag is used to send each letter of the message in Morse code, it should be by wig-wagging:
    • The flag held up straight and tall = the start of a letter.
    • A swipe to the right = a dot.
    • A swipe to the left = a dash.
    • The flag swished downward = the end of the word.
  • The receiving patrol needs record on their papers the dots and dashes being sent. Afterwards, they can refer to their reference sheet to decipher the message.
  • Scoring: Correct letters received by all patrol members are added together, then divided by the number of receivers to get the patrol average. The patrol with the highest average

Find out about Commercial radio and television

  • How are programs made and transmitted?
  • When can a television or radio station be visited?

Find out how a radio receiver works.

– Some scouts might like to build a radio receiver as a patrol project or alone.

Learn and practice using Morse code.

Build a Morse code practice oscillator or other simple electronic

– Bring it to the next scout meeting.

CLOSING IDEAS

TROOP MEETING PLANS — RADIO

We've prepared troop meeting plans for weeks 1 to 4. Click on each image for the full size version.

MAIN EVENT: RADIO

The following three sample outing outlines can serve troop leaders as a point of reference, or as an actual framework, for the monthly main event relating to the radio program feature.

NOTE: If camping and radio operators cannot be combined on JOTA weekend, plan a visit to one or more amateur radio stations on JOTA weekend so that all scouts have the opportunity to make a scout contact by radio. Pick an unusual location for the JOTA station you visit, working closely with your amateur radio partner. On days other than JOTA weekend, it is still possible to make a radio contact, but it is unlikely to be with a scout. Try also to find out where local radio clubs will be holding their Field Day (fourth weekend in June) and plan a visit to see how radio stations can be set up at “emergency” locations. Many operators use field day as a competition to make as many contacts as possible, so use of a radio might be difficult during the annual Field Day.

Essential — Day Activity: Radio Field Trip

Radio field trip – Visit a radio installation (an amateur radio station, broadcast station, or public service communications center, for example).

Challenging — Day Activity: Radio Hike

Radio hike – Arrange with a local radio club to learn about direction finding and ask them to set up a foxhunt (hunting for a hidden transmitter). While waiting to take part in the foxhunt, practice sending and receiving Morse code on radio club equipment.

Advanced — Overnight Activity: Merit Badge Weekend

Merit badge weekend – Camp in a favorite spot and use part of the time to work on the Radio merit badge. Arrange for licensed radio operators to be present with their radio equipment operational; JOTA weekend would be ideal. Schedule operating times for scouts so that all have an opportunity to use the radio equipment under supervision of the licensed operators.

Click on the images for full size versions.

Merit Badge Weekend Schedule

TIME ACTIVITY RUN BY
Friday Evening Load gear at meeting location, leave for campsite. Plan a light meal en route. SPL
Arrive at campsite; off-load equipment. Set up patrol sites. Stow gear & set up camp. SPL
Saturday

6:30 am

Cooks and assistants up. Prepare breakfast. (Cooks should be working on First and Second Class requirements.) Cooks, assistants
7:00 am Everyone else up. Take care of personal hygiene, air tents, hang out sleeping bags.
7:30 am Breakfast.
8:00 am Clean up. Cooks
Patrols put up the gear for morning activities in parallel with radio activities, clean up patrol site.
8:30–11:30 am Schedule operating times for scouts so that all have an opportunity to use the radio equipment under supervision of the licensed operators. Scouts not using radios to take part in parallel activities. SPL
11:30 am Cooks prepare lunch. Cooks
Noon Lunch.
12:30 pm Clean up. Cooks
1:30 pm Continue competitions and operating radios under supervision.

Game: Learn about direction finding and ask a local radio club to set up a foxhunt (hunting for a hidden transmitter).

4:30 pm Start dinner preparation. Cooks
5:30 pm Dinner. SPL
6:00 pm Clean up. Cooks
8:00 pm Nighttime activity.
9:00 pm Campfire program planned by experienced Scouts. SPL
10:00 pm Cracker barrel.
11:00 pm Lights out.
Sunday

7:00 am

Cooks and assistants up. Prepare breakfast. (Cooks should be working on First and Second Class requirements.) Cooks, assistants
7:30 am Everyone else up. Take care of personal hygiene, air tents, hang out sleeping bags.
8:00 am Breakfast.
8:30 am Clean up. Cooks
Patrols put up the gear for morning activities, clean up patrol site.
9:00 am Worship service
9:30–11:00 am Patrol games. Perhaps older Scouts run an orienteering course. Younger Scouts play four games from Games section of the Troop Program Resources.
11:00 am Break camp.
Special equip-ment needed

NOTE: If camping and radio operators cannot be combined on JOTA weekend, plan a visit to one or more amateur radio stations on JOTA weekend so that all scouts have the opportunity to make a scout contact by radio. Pick an unusual location for the JOTA station you visit, working closely with your amateur radio partner. On days other than JOTA weekend, it is still possible to make a radio contact, but it is unlikely to be with a scout. Try also to find out where local radio clubs will be holding their Field Day (fourth weekend in June) and plan a visit to see how radio stations can be set up at “emergency” locations. Many operators use field day as a competition to make as many contacts as possible, so use of a radio might be difficult during the annual Field Day.

Additional Materials

We also have additional materials that may prove useful in your activities. These include Marine Band Radio information as well as a Miscellaneous file that includes Morse Code, Flag Talk, the phonetic alphabet, Q-codes, and a contact sheet. Click on the links below to download the PDF documents.

ProgramFeatureRadio-MarineBand

ProgramFeatureRadio-Miscellaneous

Google+