Despite what the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) called “solid results from an exciting JOTA weekend,” Scout participation for the October 2015 event was reported down by 8 percent from 2014, although the number of registered stations and station reports remained about the same. The BSA said 7117 Scouts took part in JOTA 2015. The number of visitors, at 5138, was also down by 8 percent. The Boy Scouts said only 60 percent of registered stations — 208 —filed a station report, so the report may represent only part of the activity. The 346 total stations registered for JOTA 2015 represented a slight improvement from 2014, however.
“The total number of Scout councils involved dropped from 149 to 127,” said the report posted by National Jamboree On The Air Organizer Jim Wilson, K5ND. “Therein lies our big challenge — getting the word out to local Scout councils about the biggest Scouting event in the world and how they can participate.”
Participation took a big jump in 2012, with 18,566 Scouts and visitors. In 2013, however, participation was down by nearly 4700, and it slipped further in 2014.
On a more positive note, 208 JOTA-participating stations have filed reports. That’s up 1 percent over last year’s event. In all, JOTA stations worked 106 countries, as 979 Amateur Radio operators put 847 radios on the air to make 8360 contacts — all up from 2014.
“The most memorable thing was the Scouts who absolutely said they weren’t getting on the air. But when they did, you couldn’t pry the mic out of their hands,” said Philip Jacobs, W2GSB, at the K2S JOTA special event station. “They turned out to be some of the best Scout ops we had.”
The Scouts blamed persistent challenges from propagation, contesting, a lack of council involvement, and failing to get information to those who needed it. “Propagation and contesting will remain ongoing problems. “Changes to the Worked All Germany contest to reserve JOTA frequencies have been helpful,” the Scouts reported. “[We] need to activate a similar arrangement with USA-based QSO Parties in New York, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota.”
Looking ahead to JOTA 2016, the Scouts are planning “consistent, persistent, and even relentless communication…to increase awareness of available information.” Wilson said Scout Council awareness of JOTA remains low, and efforts will be made to communicate through Council International representatives, active Scouters, and existing Boy Scouts of America channels to reach both professionals and volunteers. The BSA said the worldwide registration system used this year in conjunction with Jamboree On The Internet (JOTI) encountered several problems leading up to JOTA weekend, including a system shutdown. “More work is required here with reliability and ease of use,” the BSA said.
JOTA 2015 took place over the October 16-18 weekend.