As a 23 year member of Scouts Canada, and with 3 previous Scout Jamborees under my belt, I [Ron Bilinsky, VA7RTB] was looking for some sort of “Offer Of Service” (OOS) to volunteer for at for this year’s BC Scout Pacific Jamboree (PJ15). It was titled the “Salish Sea Adventures” and held July 11 – 18 at Camp Barnard in my home town of Sooke BC, which is a 45 minute drive north-west of Victoria.
When I heard that there was to be a Ham Radio Info Station at the Jamboree, and as a brand new Ham Operator, (VA7RTB – Basic with Honours – April 2015 through the “Westcoast Amateur Radio Association”), I jumped at the chance to help out. I then learned that scouter Chris Carr (VE7BAC – 2002) from Port Coquitlam, was running the station and that he was an experienced Ham with his advanced certification and having run Ham Radio Info Stations at both Provincial and Canadian Jamborees in the past. He is also presently the co-ordinator of EPCOM, Port Coquitlam’s amateur radio club and is the city’s Emergency Radio Coordinator. Also joining the team were two youth scouters, Josh (VE7JRI) and Brayden, a Venturer from Cold Lake Alberta, and several dedicated local Hams.
As a result, Chris brought the necessary equipment and technical knowledge to the event whereas I searched out numerous Ham Related activities for the some 3000 scouts, (i.e. youth aged 9 – 14 years old and their leaders), to participate in. We set up a 3 element (10/15/20m) Yagi antenna on a 30’ tower, plus a dipole and a Diamond X50 dual band (2 metre & 70 cm) antenna and a Alpha Delta DX-DD (40/80m) wire. These were connected to two HF radios, (i.e. an iCom 7000 & a Yaesu FT 900), and a brand new Yaesu FT8800R dual band UHF / VHF radio purchased specifically for the event. Our home for the next 7 days was a 17’ X 16’ DND military tent on loan to the Jamboree and our call sign for the Jamboree was VE7JAM.
As for the Ham Radio activities, I had the scouts earn a Jamboree badge by participating in:
– deciphering a daily Morse code mystery message
– making a morse code bracelet re: their name
– a Ham Radio terminology word search
– deciphering 2 morse code riddles (one on numbers and one on marine terminology)
– learning and reciting the phonetic alphabet
– going on a “fox hunt”
– sitting in on a 15 minute talk about how to earn your Ham Radio Licence, and finally
– talking to other Hams on a Ham Radio
Well, we were not quite prepared for the enthusiasm of the scouts who inundated our station as we ran out of badges on the first day. We were however, able to attain more badges later on to award all those keen on completing all of the Ham tasks. In fact, Chris too was overwhelmed, as he stated that we saw more scouts on the first day of the Pacific Jamboree than the Canadian Jamboree, (i.e. who had 7000 scouts in attendance – i.e. more than twice our numbers), than they had visit their Ham Radio Station the entire seven day Canadian Jamboree. Quite the feather in our cap!
In the end, we estimated that over 500 scouts visited our tent, and 125 completed all activities, (i.e. which took them some 2 1/2 to 3 hours). We also had a draw for a brand new Canadian Amateur Radio Exam Study Guide, won by a leader who was keen on he and his troop earning their Ham Radio certification. Other scouting activities during the Jamboree included scuba diving, mountain biking, canoeing & kayaking, overnight hikin
g, numerous arts and crafts, rock climbing, several logging sports and of course the ever important badge trading.
As for our Ham Radio contacts during the Jamboree, and to the scouts awe, we were able to have them talk with other Hams in Russia, Chile, Hawaii, The Virgin Islands, Alaska, Manitoba, Ontario, California, New Mexico, Michigan, a hurricane chasing weather ship off the Baja Peninsula and even a fun contact in Disneyland.
Now that the Jamboree is over, and with the generous donation of some used Ham Radio equipment from Chris and other hams, (i.e. a crank tower, coaxial cable, the 3 element Yagi and a folded dipole antenna, an older Yaesu FT – 101E radio, an antenna rotator, several books plus our new Yaseu FT8800-R), we are now keen on developing a permanent Ham Radio Shack at Camp Barnard. This station will serve as the Camp Ranger (VE7WRB) Willy Burrows’ Ham Station, and be available for Scouts “Jamboree On The Air” (JOTA) held the 3rd weekend of every October. Also, as a 5 year member of the Sooke Fire Department’s “Emergency Support Services” (ESS), I see that it would provide an invaluable communication service for the community as we apply for an Emergency Service designation. This would allow Camp Barnard to be both a Reception Centre and a Group Lodging Centre for the “Juan de Fuca Capital Region District” covering Sooke and the Western Communities, should we ever have to deal with any type of major disaster. We are also scheduled to hold the 2019 Pacific Jamboree at Camp Barnard again and hope to offer an even bigger and better event!
PS: This article was also submitted to “The Canadian Amateur” magazine and published in the 2015 November / December issue.
Camp Barnard Camp Committee
2338 Sunriver Way, Sooke BC V9Z 0Y4
Call Sign VA7RTB