Scouting’s largest event in the world — Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA) — takes place October 15 – 17. During JOTA, Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community meet on the air via amateur radio. Scouts of any age and sex may participate, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers. The participating scouts often gather at a station made available by a volunteer, or at one set up just for JOTA. Communication typically involves SSB or FM voice, but it’s also possible that other modes, such as video or digital, will be employed — or even repeater or satellite communication.
Scouts typically exchange such information as name, location, Scout rank, and hobbies, and it’s expected that many participating Scouts will be amateur radio licensees. Contacts may take place across town, across the country, or even around the world. The World Scout Bureau reported that more than 1.5 million Scouts from some 160 countries took part in JOTA/JOTI (JOTA-on-the-Internet) in 2017. With no restrictions on age or on the number of participants, and at little or no expense, JOTA allows Scouts to meet and become acquainted with each other by ham radio.
JOTA officially starts on Friday evening during the JOTA Jump Start and continues through Sunday evening. Any amateur mode of operation may be used such, as CW, SSB, PSK, SSTV, FM, and satellite. JOTA is not a contest.
To learn what JOTA activity is planned for a given area, contact the local or regional Scout council, or contact a local ham radio operator or a local amateur radio club. Your local club may be able to direct you to planned JOTA activities. These can include ham stations set up at camporees or other events. If no activities are planned, work with them to get something set up or arrange to visit a local radio operator’s ham shack at a scheduled time to participate in JOTA.
If nothing is currently planned, or if current plans aren’t reaching your area, you can work with the council or a local unit (pack, troop, crew) to set up a JOTA station or arrange for visits to your ham shack. You can also participate just by making contacts with the many JOTA stations that will be on the air. A good resource for finding a local Scout unit is the Be-A-Scout website.
Since the first JOTA in 1958, millions of Scouts have become acquainted with each other through this event. Many JOTA contacts have resulted in relationships between Scout troops and individual Scouts that have lasted many years.