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4515Re: [ScoutRadio] USA JOTA Report

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  • Paul Joosten
    Dec 8, 2013
      Hi Jim,

      Just had a look through your 2013 JOTA report. Great to see the leaps you have taken over the past few years. No doubt the support by Icom helped quite a bit but that can't be the only reason, looks like you guys are doing a great job too. We all share a common interest; getting young people interested in Ham radio so we'll all have enough younger amateurs to talk to once we are old and grey. You are very lucky you can have really young kids get a license as there is no age limit like we have and you have many different levels so the initial step is easy. 

      Looking at JOTA activities in PA we cannot beat you any longer as to the absolute numbers but with only 17,000,000 inhabitants and only 125,000 scouts and scouters we have much higher numbers relatively speaking with some 250 participating groups every year. Perhaps you might get some ideas for further improvement from the way we run things here? 

      I've been heavily involved with JOTA at local and regional levels since 1979, and running radio scouting activities at national and international levels during major Summer camps almost annually since 2004. Details can be found on my QRZ.com page.

      During JOTA I have assisted with local groups for a number of years and after having been invited repeatedly by Richard PA3BAR I was part of the team at World HQ in Satigny twice. I've run a JOTA station under my own callsign with my local scouting unit a few times too. However what I personally like to do best is be a JOTA mobile station (JMS) which I have done since about 1992. The country is subdivided in regions, al of which have regional JOTA-JOTI organisers (RJJO). They will get a team of active radio scouters to help them with the job by establishing and maintaning contacts with HAM clubs and scout units in the area. Between ourselves we try and visit every registered participating group during JOTA. 

      Summer of 2012 I moved house to a rural part of the country where this team was not fully established yet. I offerd my services to the RJJO in charge and for the first time groups in the area were visited during JOTA. Initially this caused much surprise as they had never experienced this before. When I explained the purpose they unanimously were very enthousiastic. 

      JMS's visit the participating groups to show interest on behalf of the national JOTA-JOTI organisation and get feedback from the field. A JMS will preferably consist of a licensed HAM and a scout. As I'm both I could do it by myself but I always try and ask some other scouts and/or HAM's to come along for the day. We print neat participation A4-sized certificates, with the A6 international participation cards glued on. The certificates are pre-signed by the NJO and the RJO and made out to the group on the spot. Whenever possible I try and hand it over to the group JOTA organiser during some (semi-) official moment in front of the scouts. This is very welcome and the certificates usually get a nice place somewhere in the troop house. We also ask to be shown around and afterwards briefly sit with the group JOTA organiser to discuss their operation. We have a little questionnaire to fill out with ample space for extra input from the local groups. We also ask specific questions on how they experience support form national and regional levels and try to answer any questions they might have. Some of the questions serve as eye-openers as not all group organisers are aware of all possibilities.

      All the results are entered in an online database by the mobile operators within a week after JOTA. Stations that were not visited or reported will be sent login codes asking them to submit their data within the next two weeks. This way, we get a very high response rate from the participating units and pretty fast too. The national organisation compiles the results to produce the national report and to help generate the updates for the annual JOTA-JOTI DVD. This DVD is sent to all the groups who filed their reports and to any new participating groups the next year. As NJO you might have seen an international edition that was sent to NJO's around the world in 2011 by Jan Kluiver?

      Since 2007 we moved the official opening transmissions from Midnight to 10 PM on Friday so since the 50th JOTA our JOTA's last 50 hours instead of 48. This greatly helped increase attendance by younger scouts and might help keep levels of sleep deprivation over the weekend down a bit for the others. You will have noticed similar effect I suppose ;). Great efforts have been made, especially by German NJO Jochen DK8ZM, with the WAG contest organisers to try and keep mutual interference to a minimum. Contest-free sections have been established on all bands and WAG are enforcing them by disqualifying QSO's made in these sections or even participants afer repeated abuse reports are received. In turn, we ask JOTA participants to stay mainly in these contest free sections, unless they want to participate in a contest (like you said if you can't beat them...). To increase activity during the night hours, a small and friendly JOTA contest is organised in the very early Sunday morning hours. This gives some of the amateurs a possibility to show off their skills and you'll most likely see a couple of eager scouts get bitten by the contest bug :P

      For many years already we have had permission from the licensing authorities to use the /J suffix for registered participating JOTA stations. Remco PE1MEW is the national contact between the authorities and anyone wishing to use this suffix. He can also allocate it to specific scouting events outsde JOTA. This serves several purposes. Initially it gave us the opportunity to allow non-hams to speak during QSO's as this normally was not allowed. Fortunately this changed a couple of years ago but the suffix still serves as an easy identifier for and between Jamboree stations. For the HAM involved it helps keep logs and QSL separate from their private callsign. As far as I now, this /J is unique in the world. However I don't think it would hurt to try and get permission to do something similar in other countries?

      Well Jim, this message turned out to be much more elaborate than anticipated when I started it. I hope you appreciate the effort and find some ideas in it to help you further improve JOTA in the USA. All others on the list feel free to benefit from our experience too!

      Best 73 and a firm left handshake,
      Paul PA5UL

      2013/12/7 <jbwilson@...>

      The 2013 report for Jamboree on the Air in the USA has been posted along with a summary video. You can find them here ---

      We welcome your comments and suggestions. 

      Thanks for all you do to support Jamboree on the Air and Radio Scouting.

      73, Jim Wilson, K5ND
      National JOTA Organizer -- USA

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