It was April 2015 when Willy Burrows VE7WRB, the Camp Ranger at Camp Barnard and myself, Ron Bilinsky VA7RTB, completed WARA’s very informative and comprehensive three month Amateur Radio Course. This was then followed up by a very successful Ham Radio Station held in an army tent at Camp Barnard’s 2015 Scout Pacific Jamboree for some 3000 scouts.
With the success of that Jamboree, and because we were seeking Camp Barnard’s designation by Juan de Fuca’s Emergency Program as a Disaster Emergency Response Centre, we decided to create a permanent Ham Radio Station at Camp Barnard. Camp Committee allocated a small, minimally used, storage room for our use, however with no funding, we began an intensive advertising request for the donation of any and all used / unwanted Ham Radio gear to help us get started. We also improved our old storage room by adding a countertop, shelving, a window and painting the floor.
Over the past year and a half, numerous donations have come in from around the province from many generous Hams, who had older excess equipment that they were glad to see go to a good home. Donation items have included Yaesu, Kenwood, and ICOM HF, UHF & VHF radios, power sources, Ham badges and QSL cards, antennas and towers.
Also instrumental in getting some equipment was Ham Donn Hilton VA7HD, who arranged
for us to receive Central Middle School’s now defunct Ham Radio class equipment. We are also awaiting the delivery in January of several Ham radios from a collector in Merritt BC. More recently we have also included used CB radios in our request for donations to encourage youth radio practice and for communication purposes at Camp Barnard for our next Jamboree in July 2019.
More recently, we have acquired the services of Ham scouter Don Tolson VE7ATJ, to be our sponsor and he has arranged for our new Club call sign, VE7SHR (i.e. Scout Ham Radio). Don has also installed a brand new HF antenna and is working with us to get the station fully up and running, hopefully by next summer. We have, though, had some limited use of the Shack in November, when we (i.e. Don Tolson, Bob Gauthier & myself) presented our first 3 hour Ham Radio session to 38 Cubs aged 8 – 10 years old.
So what is next? Well , with a variety of equipment (i.e. some good, some bad and some very questionable), we are hoping to address a number of goals for 2017 which include:
- putting cladding around the bottom of our crank tower
- have 3 or 4 of our radios properly programmed
- acquire some back-up emergency batteries
- finalize Camp Barnard’s designation as a JDF-CRD Emergency Response Centre
- set up at least 3 of our CB radios at various location at camp, and
- sort through our equipment donations, as several are missing mics, manuals & power cords etc.
Note: I am hoping that in the Spring of 2017, I can encourage the support of several WARA members to come out and see what we have accomplished at Camp Barnard, and to participate in a work party to share their technical knowledge to help get us on the air and further assist us in meeting some of our 2017 goals.
Ron Bilinsky VA7RTB