The call to action was something like this:
Phone call: “Hey we need some help with JOTA next weekend. How well do you work with kids?”
Me: “I don’t.”
Phone call: “OK so I’ll put you down then. Can you bring a station?”
And that was that. Hey, I didn’t get the club’s “Flex Award” last year for nothing.
So my buddy Steve and I will head out to Lexington County Saturday and set up a radio station and let some Cub Scouts talk around the world. We’ll teach them about how the rig works, Morse code, how waves bounce off the ionosphere, bouncing waves off the Moon, and how to talk with astronauts with a $40 Chinese handheld radio. Fun stuff. Interesting stuff.
In trying to learn more about JOTA, I discovered there is also a component of the day known as JOTI — Jamboree on the Internet. From the JOTA-JOTI website:
JOTI started with chatting (by keyboard) on the chat channels of ScoutLink. In the chat channels you can meet scout from your own country or around the world. Who you will find in the chatroom depends on what channel you enter. The chat channels are monitored and moderated by members from ScoutLink, so it is safe and fun. You can join a chat channel by installing an “IRC Client” on your PC, or by using a web-based client.
I honestly can’t think of anything more dull for a young scout than to use IRC to chat with other people. Oh, they use Skype and Google Talk also. And TeamSpeak (What? No Ventrillo?) Aren’t kids already doing this stuff on their own? Don’t they talk and interact with kids in Europe and beyond on their Xbox Live accounts? These kids have grown up in an era where there has always been Internet and global communication in a keystroke. It’s like using electricity.
So I clicked back over to the JOTA page. Apparently, JOTA has been an event since 1957, BUT, and I quote directly from the web, poor grammar and broken sentences and all:
The last years the availability and possiblities of internet make JOTI more suitable for the core objective of the event: let scouts meet and do things together.
That’s on the JOTA page, which begrudgingly goes on to say ham radio “remains a very fascinating hobby” … gee thanks for that. I think ham radio has just been pimp-slapped by JOTI.
Yeah I get it. Ham radio was your grandfather’s hobby. The Internet and cellular networks facilitate instant, efficient communication. But where’s the magic in it? Isn’t scouting all about being prepared and learning new things? Isn’t that a large part of what ham radio is about?
Next year, maybe the scouts can just SnapChat each other.
If the ham radio jab isn’t enough, somehow they are issuing a challenge called the “Gangnam Scout’s Style Movie,” which is a reference to Korean pop artist Psy’s hit song/video “Gangnam Style.” If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Psy accused of anti-American lyrics in a 2004 song?
I’m not prone to jingoism, but this sure does get me ginned up. The scouts have obviously changed since my step-dad took me to Camp Barstow in the early 1980s, where I learned archery, leatherworking, performed songs and plays under the stars in the amphitheater, built a rope bridge, and learned how to cook meals in tin foil pouches by burying them under the coals of a camp fire. Now they can add to that: Sit on your can and watch YouTube videos and use Skype.