Monday, 18 October 2010

JOTA 2010

Friday afternoon saw Dave-VE3DZE, George-VE3SIQ, and myself head north on Hwy 15 to the Whispering Pines Scout Camp, on Otty Lake, to set up their Jamboree on the Air stations.
It was pouring rain with winds 30 kph gusting to 60 kph when we arrived, and that situation didn't change until well after midnight.  It was, as they write...."A dark and stormy night..."

This was the first time we had done the JOTA from the Whispering Pines Scout Camp, so it was all new terrain for us.  The camp is a beautiful spot, all wilderness, and no buildings allowed there at all.  In fact once you are there you would not guess for a moment that you are actually only 6 Km south of the Town of Perth.  The camp has many large trees....all waiting to be strung with dipole antennas, and it is also very well looked after by their Camp Warden - Stan.

The JOTA Campsite
Friday evening saw us simply set up our camp and the screen tents we were to operate from.  It's a good job we brought as many large tarps as we did, because we used them all to keep everything dry.

After we finished setting up we drove into Perth and had supper at Michael's restaurant.  The food there was excellent.  It was also a great opportunity for us to take our time and dry out.

We used wire dipoles for 80m and 20m, and the Buddipole for 40m and 6m dipole.  All the antennas worked exceptionally well, and even though they were not that high off the ground, we did get a fair bit of DX from them.

Saturday morning came and the rain had given way to a beautiful blue sky, and the winds dropped to nothing around noon.  One of the Scout leaders lent us his 5000Kw generator, which was a stroke of good luck as I doubt our batteries would have lasted as long as we ended up needing them.

Dave-VE3DZE hard at work
Dave-VE3DZE and I shared one screen tent to operate from.  It wasn't that bad as we used our field day coax notch filter set, and that took out any interference we would have had being so close.  Dave made some good contacts on 20m during the day, but while we had hoped to work some European stations doing JOTA, we never heard any at all, and none responded to our CQ's.

For most of the day we stayed put on 7.169 and worked N2Y, who was working the JOTA from a scout camp near Constantia, NY.  It was interesting to listen to the American scouts describe their scouting system to our Canadian scouts.  Of course it was the fact that Canada has Coed scout troops, with real live girls, these days that really peaked the American scout's attention!

George VE3SIQ.....surrounded
George-VE3SIQ worked the 80m band for most of the day.  There were only a few signals on 80m, so a few of the net controllers for the ONTARS net on 3.755 helped us out by talking to the scouts. Thanks for doing that guys, you really brought big smiles to the faces of dozens of kids!

I managed to work a good number of stations on 40m, but it wasn't until late in the afternoon that I discovered that the power had been turned down to 10w all day!  Of course, before I discovered that I was operating QRP, I worked DR1A and DR1L, both in Germany.  Not too bad for QRP into a Buddipole dipole at 18 feet off the ground.

JOTA is an excellent method of introducing young people to our hobby.  We had several of the scouts hang around the radios all day.  In fact one young lad, Alex, was so interested in ham radio I sat him down and allowed him to work a few contest stations, under his own steam (and my supervision), during the NY QSO Party that was also going on that day.  The kid is a natural!  Larry Palmer-VE3LFP, who is a scout leader in that area is going to try and find the young fella a local Elmer so he can continue with the hobby.

JOTA and ARES are a natural fit.  It provides a good scenario that allows ARES to deploy to the field and set up and operate under realistic conditions.  It also gives excellent exposure of our great hobby to the youth of this country, which we all know we sorely need given the age of most of us "Olde Farts". 

So, given this natural fit of JOTA and ARES, one must ask why the RAC Field Service decided to hold the Canadian National ARES SET on the same weekend?  And while we're on this subject, why was there not a RAC Bulletin issued to advise hams of the fact that JOTA was taking place.  At least then we could have possibly had more hams on the air for the youth to talk to.

Once again, RAC proves to us all that they are not paying attention on how to attract younger hams....or do they really care about attracting youth members?  JOTA happens every year guys....on the same weekend in October....and has done for 53 years. 

The hams from Kingston provided operators for two JOTA scout camps, for about 300 youth combined between the two, and Bill-VE3CRU, operating from Mossport Raceway, had 300 scouts at that location go through his portable shack alone last weekend! 

How many more youth across the country could have had good exposure to the hobby if our ARES groups were not tied up with an ineffectual exercise?  RAC wasted a wonderful opportunity last weekend to showcase our ham radio hobby to the youth of this country.  ARES exercises can be held any weekend of the year, but there's only one JOTA per year. 

So please RAC executive and directors, don't cry to us about the lack of youth in our hobby.  We're trying our best to get them interested, but once again you greatly let us down!

1 comment:

  1. Bill, You're right on with your comments directed at RAC. Youth involvement in amateur radio should have the highest priority going.

    Thank you to you and the other hams who took the time to do this.