JOTA Jamboree-on-the-Air: Scouting’s Global Connection Through Radio Waves

The spirit of adventure has always been at the heart of Scouting, but what if we told you that Scouts could set on a journey beyond borders using nothing more than the power of radio waves?

That’s exactly what happened at the recent “Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA)” event, where Scouts worldwide connected through the fascinating realm of amateur radio. Jack Kelly, a dedicated Grand Canyon Council BSA volunteer, shared insights on JOTA. 

“JOTA is a worldwide event,” Kelly said “It is the largest Scouting event in the world and is held annually on the third full weekend in October. It uses HAM (amateur radio) to link Scouts and HAMs around the world.” 

Scouts of all ages participated in this global event, from Cub Scout packs to Scouts BSA troops and Venturing crews. A highlight of the event was the participation of the Phoenix Fire Department, which showcased their CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Communication Trailer. “The Firemen set up four stations using their radios,” Kelly explained. “Participants were able to talk to Scouts at Camp Geronimo, Camp Raymond, and Scouts in Flagstaff. It was a fantastic way for our Scouts to learn from professionals and gain real-world experience in communication.”

One of the distinguishing features of JOTA was the setup of ten different stations, each utilizing various radio frequencies, from VHF and UHF to HF radios. Scouts had the unique opportunity to communicate using these different stations, broadening their understanding of the world of amateur radio.

JOTA also provided Scouts with a chance to earn their Radio Merit badge. Around 60 Scouts achieved this feat, which was a testament to the valuable skills and knowledge they gained during the event. Kelly proudly shared, “We were able to talk to HAMs in Canada, Massachusetts, and Australia, which was not only exciting but also broadened our Scouts’ global perspective.”

This event also provided support to the community. The Phoenix Fire CERT team utilized JOTA as a training opportunity, showcasing how Scouting events can play a role in community service and readiness.

Reflecting on the event, Jack Kelly noted, “HAM radios are a great tool Scouts can use on campouts and other events.” The versatility and knowledge gained through JOTA can be a valuable asset for Scouts in their Scouting journey and life beyond. In the end, the Jamboree-on-the-Air wasn’t just about radio waves; it was about connecting Scouts from different corners of the world, learning new skills, and strengthening the community.

Over 70 Scouts, Scouters, and parents gathered at Heard Pueblo, with an additional 30-40 at Camp Geronimo. Thanks to the coordinated efforts, we made an 'On the Air' contact. It was a unique Scouting experience, with many earning the Radio Merit Badge and discovering how to get their FCC Technicians License to become 'HAM' Operators, a hobby they can enjoy for life. The Scouts from both locations had a blast communicating via wireless radio with each other and connected with people across the United States and internationally. It was an incredible personal experience for all the Scouts. In addition to radio activities, we had engaging presentations on using Morse Code to communicate and portions of the Electronics Merit Badge. The Phoenix Emergency Communications Group from the Fire Department even showcased their emergency radio equipment. Jack Kelly, the lead organizer, has already set the date for the "2024 Jamboree on the Air" on October 19, 2024, on the GCC calendar. Mark your Troop and Pack calendars a year in advance and join this exciting Scouting adventure next year!”

Jack Stieg KG7UMR, Unit Commissioner
Thank you, Jack Kelly N7UKJ, Jack Stieg KG7UMR, Jason Youn K3CUB, Jose Amorin KE7KBR, Dr. Trent Smith KQ6ID, and Steve Brunasso KD6YQH.