JOTA is an annual event that allows around 500,000 members of the Scout Movement Worldwide to communicate using amateur radio.
JOTA has taken place ever since 1958 and now takes place over the third full weekend in October every year. Although the event officially starts at 0000 hours on Saturday, and finishes 48 hours later at 2359 hours on the Sunday, there is often traffic before (and after) because of variations in timezone. Although the event is available for the whole weekend, local circumstances will govern when people actually join in; there is no need to take part for the whole period.
To promote international friendship, introduce young people to new skills and experiences and provide another way to get involved in the World Scout Jamboree experience.
In Greenock District, JOTA was held initially in the 80’s in the 32nd Scout Hall, Mearns Street with the help of local Amateur Radio Enthusiasts. It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that Greenock District’s Amateur radio station GB0GDS was started with the help of Inverclyde Amateur Radio Group.
When Scouts want to meet young people from another country, they usually think of attending a World Jamboree. But few people realize that each year more than 400,000 Scouts and Guides “get together” over the airwaves for the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA).
JOTA is an annual event in which Boy and Girl Scouts and Guides from all over the world speak to each other by means of Amateur (ham) Radio. JOTA is held the third weekend in October of each year.
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. Many contacts made during JOTA have resulted in pen pals and links between Scout troops that have lasted many years.
The radio stations are operated by licensed ham radio operators. Many Scouts and leaders hold licenses and have their own stations, but the majority participate in JOTA through stations operated by local radio clubs and individual radio amateurs.
The World Scout Bureau operates its own Amateur Radio station, with the call sign HB9S. There is a permanent radio room in the Bureau’s Geneva offices, and the station is regularly on the air during Scout nets and JOTA weekends. Transmitters are on the 10/15/20 metre, 160/80/40 metre and (in the Geneva area) the 440/2 metre bands.
Confirmation of a radio contact between operators is made by using a QSL card.
Over the years various locations (QTH) have been used to stage this annual event.
The 1st Year was the most unique and unusual as we were based at Gourock Pier transmitting from a large “Yellow Kettle” which was originally used at the Glasgow garden festival in 1988. Unfortunately the kettle had to be removed for safety reasons.
In subsequent years, the QTH was moved to the new lodge in Everton Scout Camp, District HQ, Finnart Street, Gourock and Gourock Community Trust, Kempock Street, where we also for the first time participated in The Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI).
More recent QTH has been in St Ninian’s Church Hall, where in addition to the special event call sign (GB0GDS) a Scout Radio Group has been established to encourage scouts of all ages to be involved in obtaining an Amateur Radio Operators License.
During the many years of JOTA & JOTI many Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, Guides, Brownies and helpers have taken part in successful JOTA/JOTI events, with contacts made using Internet Relay Chat, E-mail & Radio Communications with all continents around the world.
DID YOU KNOW
The International Space Station has active radio amateurs on board. Any radio amateur with the right equipment can start talking to the astronauts in the space station.
Radio Communications use voice and morse code (CW carrier wave) – this being one of the earlier types of contact for JOTA. Over the past few years many contacts have been established, and confirmation of this is recorded by QSL cards.
During the Centenary Year there will be a radio scouting award scheme where various levels of achievement can be attained by accumulating points towards an award. Points can be achieved by contacting Scout Stations (1 Point), Special Event stations (2 Points) & Special Scout Centenary Stations (5 Points).
The Award Scheme consists of the following:
Bronze (15 Points), Silver (50 Points), Gold (100 Points) Platinum (250 Points) & the Top Award Diamond (500 Points).
Greenock District Scouts (using the special call sign GB50GDS), were awarded a Bronze and Silver Radio Scouting Award during the Centenary of Scouting Year and 50th Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) which took place at Everton Scout Campsite, Inverkip during JOTA weekend 2008.
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