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Padre Island Field Day Challenge

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  • n5gui
    (This is a long post, so if you reply, please delete the excess parts in your reply. I am sure others will thank you. ) Early this year my wife and I took a
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 3, 2012
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      (This is a long post, so if you reply, please delete the excess parts in your reply. I am sure others will thank you. )

      Early this year my wife and I took a trip down to southern Texas, which included a brief stop at the Padre Island National Seashore, which is a place that I had visited when I was of Scouting age. During the rest of the trip, I thought that it would be an interesting place for a group of Scouts to have technology adventure trek.

      I should explain that I am a Unit Commissioner with the White Buffalo District of Quivira Council in Kansas. I am also a retired aerospace engineer, former science teacher, and amateur radio operator, call N5GUI. As such, I am a strong advocate for greater incorporation of S.T.E.M. ( I use it to mean any activity involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics - although S.T.E.M. is one of those government alphabet soup terms, apparently originated by INS, that no one seems to know what it really means, or much cares how they use it ) into the Scouting programs and activities.

      I continued to consider this idea of a technology trek, and decided to share it with this group to get some comments. Since the idea for the trek involves the ARRL Field Day, I thought it best to wait until after this year's Field Day to present the idea. For lack of a better name, I call it the Padre Island Field Day Challenge.

      For those of you not familiar with Padre Island, it is an eighty-mile stretch of sand that forms a barrier island off the coast of Texas from Corpus Christi to Port Isabel. It varies in width and depending on current conditions near its thinner parts may break up into multiple islands. Coming from Corpus, the national seashore begins when the pavement ends. From an adventure trek standpoint is has a practically unlimited supply of sea, sand, sun, and wind. Once you leave the pavement, there should be nothing manmade unless you bring it with you.

      Here is the basic idea of the challenge: A group of Scouts operate Field Day under the conditions they would find on Padre Island. If the group was fortunate enough to actually be on Padre, then they would leave from the end of the road where there is a parking lot, and take their equipment down to a spot to set up for Field Day. To make the challenge interesting to Venture Crews, they could hike down 25 miles along the seashore, camp and operate Field Day, then hike back to qualify for a 50 Miler Award. Or canoe ( kayak maybe? ) in the Laguna Madre between Padre Island and the Texas mainland.

      Those not interested in the physical challenge of the 50 miles, or wanting to participate in the challenge in other parts of the country, the camp and radio equipment needs to be set up in a condition that would simulate Padre Island, but how you get there is open to the resources available to your Scout Group.

      To clarify what I mean by simulating Padre Island conditions, here is a short list of what you cannot find on the island. There are no trees, so your antennas must either support themselves, or you bring the supports with you. The island is sand. What grass and other plants that are there are protected so you cannot use their root system to support any anchors. If you usually use stakes to attach guy lines, make sure they will hold the intended load if pushed into a bucket of loose sand. There is no fresh water, so what you drink and bath in must be brought with you or converted from seawater. You can fish with the proper license, but otherwise food must be brought, as there are no stores and no hunting. You can pile sand and dig holes in it as much as you like, but don't disturb any plants or the few animals, and don't block any traffic. There is no electricity, but this is a Field Day activity.

      To evaluate performance, the submitted ARRL point score is used. The participating groups would be divided into categories by group size and method of transportation. I suggest that groups of ten Scouts or less be separated from larger groups. However, I would like suggestions for alternative schemes. For method of transportation, I thought that 50 Miles by Land as the first category, followed by 50 Miles by Sea, both being restricted from using any motorized support. As a side note, I think that using a sailboat would be acceptable for the Padre Island Field Day Challenge, but I suspect that it would not qualify for the BSA 50 Miler Award. Groups wishing to use motorized transport or not going the minimum 50 miles would be in the General category. In some parts of the country, it might be difficult or unsafe to arrange for a starting point that is 25 miles from the Field Day site for an out and back trek, so I would allow the trek to be a few days before, or after Field Day, and for the group to be transported to and from the Field Day site separate from the route of the trek. However, it would be important to insure that nothing used for the Field Day portion of the Challenge that was not carried for the entire trek.

      If the Challenge has interest and perhaps support from sponsors, there could be prizes awarded. As I see it the real value of the experience is preparing for, and then putting into practice the skills and equipment involved. I am particularly curious about the solutions for the various obstacles for this kind of an event compared to a more typical Field Day.

      I would like comments from the group about this as an adventure trek or other possible activities that can incorporate S.T.E.M.


      James Whitfield
      n5gui
    • Scott J (Kd5mhm)
      James, Scott here, kd5mhm. Also a Scout Leader out here in West Texas who has taken Scouts down and camped on the beach and also had them overnight on the
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 3, 2012
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        James,
        Scott here, kd5mhm.  Also a Scout Leader out here in West Texas who has taken Scouts down and camped on the beach and also had them overnight on the Lexington.
         
        I read this and decided two quick things:
        You are really warped!
        I like it!  (so I guess I’m as warped as you are!)
         
         
        I would be very interested in pursuing this with you, and perhaps putting a West Texas team together for the challenge.  I think this is a brilliant idea that should be aggressively looked into for next FD.
         
        I was reviewing some pictures from the Colorado wildfire and I think that this challenge could help everyone be more prepared in general.
         
         
        Let me know how you’d like to proceed and how I can help.
         
        Scott
         
        Scott D. Johnson, CDP, CSP, CCP
        432-638-5993 cell
         
         
        From: n5gui
        Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 2:12 PM
        Subject: [ScoutRadio] Padre Island Field Day Challenge
         
        <snip>


        I continued to consider this idea of a technology trek, and decided to share it with this group to get some comments. Since the idea for the trek involves the ARRL Field Day, I thought it best to wait until after this year's Field Day to present the idea. For lack of a better name, I call it the Padre Island Field Day Challenge.

        <snip>


        Here is the basic idea of the challenge: A group of Scouts operate Field Day under the conditions they would find on Padre Island.

        <snip>


        I would like comments from the group about this as an adventure trek or other possible activities that can incorporate S.T.E.M.

        James Whitfield
        n5gui

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