In case you haven’t heard, the International Jamboree on the Air took place Saturday, the 20th of October. JOTA is an annual event in which Boy Scouts from all over the world speak to each other by means of Amateur (ham) Radio. Scouting experiences are exchanged and ideas are shared via radio waves. Since 1958 when the first Jamboree-on-the-Air was held, millions of Scouts have met each other through this event. For the past several years, I have participated in the JOTA event hosted at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, TX. In this post I would like to share some of my experiences.
When I first went to the Jamboree on the Air event at the National Scouting Museum in 2009, I had never been there before. Even without all of the Jamboree events that I took part in during the day, the trip to see the museum alone would’ve been worth it. History has always fascinated me, especially Scouting history. To me, looking back in history is like exploring a new world. There are all kinds of amazing stories to hear and valuable lessons to be learned from our past.
The National Scouting Museum far from disappoints! From the Norman Rockwell art gallery, to the very first Eagle Badge ever awarded, everything is displayed very neatly and in a captivating way. If history isn’t necessarily your thing, then there are many activities and games to play throughout the museum.
When I went to the museum this year, though, I had little time to look around, for I had to help set up and prepare for the hundreds of people that would be coming through a little later that day.
The JOTA Stations
Set up throughout the museum, there were many stations dedicated to the Jamboree on the Air. In addition to all of the live Ham Radio Stations, there was also a Morse Code station, a snap circuits electronics station, space and astronomy stations, and emergency preparedness and management stations.
Because of the wonderful variety of radio bands that Amateur Radio operators can talk over, there were many live stations where Scouts could talk to other Scouts. Some were local around the Dallas, TX area, and others were all over the United States, and even international! There were also radio direction finding games called “fox hunts” that were very popular. However, the biggest event of the day by far was the contact with the International Space Station.
The International Space Station
Orbiting two hundred miles away from the Earth, is a gigantic space laboratory and international effort known as the International Space Station. The biggest event of this Jamboree on the Air was a prearranged contact with one of the Astronauts on board via Amateur Radio. Around a dozen Scouts were selected to speak with the Astronaut and ask specific questions during the short window of time during which contact was possible. I am proud to say that I was one of these and got a chance to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The Astronaut that we got to talk to was the current commander of the station: Sunita Williams. She is a current officer in the United States Navy and holds the record for the longest space flight time among women. It was certainly a thrilling experience to speak with someone in Space, and it is yet another Scouting experience that I will never forget.
This was the fourth Jamboree on the Air that I have taken part in, and it was certainly the best yet! I got to see some fantastic historical displays from the museum, chat with other Scouts from all over the United States, speak with an Astronaut in Space, and in addition, volunteer and help make it possible for other Scouts to have a great time too! And this was all in one day!
Did you do anything for JOTA? Do you want to next year? Please leave a comment below and tell me about it! Thanks for reading, and as always: