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Changing Times - Hams and Scouting + Field Day

Times, they are a changing. That is even more true lately if you have been keeping up with the Boy Scouts (I am not going to talk about the membership issues that have been in the news lately, so don’t worry!!). On the program side, they have been really pushing programs that support the STEM initiatives, so popular in many schools these days. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It is the way that schools have organized their science programs…and to try to keep pace, scouting has adopted many of the same programs themselves. It used to be that Scouting was all about learning “Outdoor” skills – camping, hiking, fire building, cooking, self reliance. And to be sure, these are still strong parts of the program, but I was kind of surprised when they asked if we would be willing to build a ham radio program for summer camp.

(The summer camp discussed here is MaKajawan in Pearson, Wisconsin, 30 miles north of Antigo.)

Summer camp to me always was filled with many outdoor activities…and in fact, radios and cell phones were banned! Ok, so times have changed. Newly installed cell towers just outside of camp allow parents to have instant access to their boys. As a former Scoutmaster, I loved the notion that there was limited home access. To get to the camp phone meant taking a long walk to the camp office and standing outside in line with others trying to call home. Many times the walk to the phone was enough to convince the young man not to call home. For many, this was their first experience away from their parents. So I understand, it can be tough on both. So, I can adjust to modern times. Still seems odd to me to have cell phones in camp.

I accepted the offer to build the station at Camp. Many of you helped test the equipment and we went up this past weekend with Greg Karlove (Mr. Solder Presentation, who turns out has been very active at camp for years!). We very quickly set up a VHF base station and two HF stations. Makajawan is blessed with many trees so finding a couple to handle our antennas was not difficult. The biggest issue was finding something to put the radios on or into. They wanted to use a portion of their camp store and Quartermaster area for the ham station. Turns out, there were no tables…so Greg and I went to the big equipment barn and went rummaging for stuff. We borrowed a couple of self standing cook kitchens - basically, boxes with shelves that were prefect for the job. Greg found an old AV table and cut the legs down a bit so that we could put the radio on one shelf and the PC on another.

So, the plan is for the older camp counselors to get their ham tickets to merit a radio badge to the younger scouts. We have suggested that the Scouts pursue the requirement for the listening portions of the badge. Transmitting has to be handled by a licensed operator. Almost every week, there will be hams in camp (these are adult “Scouters” who are hams and can be control operators).  This is our first year, so we shall see how it goes. I am very excited about the potential…and will keep you posted as to their progress.

Meanwhile, we are all getting ready for Field Day. My garage is completely filled with goodies, ready to roll. We have two towers this year, and we have simplified our wire antenna layout. We will have our usual picnic at 4:30 or so. Please feel free to bring a side dish or dessert. And this year, we will be doing VE testing. If that is of interest to you, please register in advance. You can send a note to me or Mike W9MJD.

If you have not been active on HF, please come to Field Day and get on our GOTA station. We can make a lot of points if we really work that station. This year we will make digital QSO’s on the GOTA station easier than previously.

Thanks all for all you do to support ham radio.