Cubs and Hams join together for jamboree

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

Florida — Cub Scouts from Pack 44 in Florida, joining scouts all over the world on Saturday, Oct. 15, took part in the 48th annual “Jamboree On The Air.” Using amateur Ham radios as their mutual campground, the scouts exchanged information about themselves and their communities, and gained a wider appreciation of the world and of Ham radio. With the fall foliage around Florida’s Glenmere Lake providing a backdrop, Tiger, Bear, Wolf, and Webelo Cubs, ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old, talked to fellow scouts across the country. From their temporary communications’ hub, they learned there was a pumpkin-chucking contest in Syracuse, a mountain-bike trip in Santa Rosa, Calif., while it was raining in Manchester, N.H. Webelo mother Pip Klein chatted about a favorite restaurant with scouts in St. Mary’s, Ga. Other contacts were as far flung as Maryland, Texas, Hawaii, and even Venezuela, which the cubs diligently tracked on United States and world maps. When the cubs weren’t at the microphone, there were plenty of other communication-related activities to keep them occupied. They worked with their parents to assemble electronic circuits for Morse code, with audible “di-di-dits” and “dah-dah-dahs” announcing successful completion. They talked on can-and-string telephones, signaled each other with semaphore, with occasional breaks for hot dogs cooked by parents Jack Kenny and Jim Sheridan, and played in the long-awaited sunshine. Half-a-dozen volunteers from the Orange County Amateur Radio Club set up temporary antennae and operated the radio equipment. Club president Saul Rozinsky and member Andy Maroney coaxed words from the boys when they got “mike fright” and eagerly joined in other activities. Rich Otis of the Mount Beacon Amateur Radio Club demonstrated the value of Ham radio in emergency situations when he set up “on the fly,” operating from his car. “When disasters strike,” said Otis, “the systems that we all have come to depend on - wired phones, cell phones, and the internet - can and do fail. Ham radio will always get through and get the job done, because our systems are flexible and are not dependent on other services.” He added that events like the jamboree are great training opportunities for new Hams. All of the Ham radio operators applauded the enthusiasm shown by the Pack 44 Cub Scouts during the event, and extended invitations to visit their “Ham shacks.” At least one of the cubs - and perhaps a parent or two - is now interested in pursuing Ham radio as a hobby. As they broke camp under a near-full moon shining over the lake, organizers knew the event was a hit when one sleepy Bear asked, “Can we do this again tomorrow?”