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Boy Scouts participate in annual ham radio event

Oct. 20, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

IRONTON, Ohio — Boy Scouts from across the globe got together Saturday in a figurative sense as they took part in the 56th annual Jamboree on the Air.

The event joins scouting with amateur radio, a skill that scouting has focused on for decades. Even in today’s world of instant connections and video conferencing, ham radio is still considered a crucial tool for crisis management.

Tim Nicely, an assistant Scout master with Troop 106 of Ironton, said he saw firsthand during the blizzard of 1993 and again in hurricane relief this past decade how much first responders relied on ham radio to communicate.

“It’s for emergency preparedness,” Nicely said of why it’s still crucial to teach the scouts about it.

That wasn’t lost on the scouts either. After talking with a ham radio operator near Dallas, 14-year-old Wyatt Boggs from Coal Grove said it’s not just a connection to another person. It’s a connection to the past.

“That’s what people used for cell phones a long time ago,” Boggs said.
Eagle Scout Caleb Franz added that the technology behind today’s cell phones go back to amateur radio.

“This is still important to learn because it’s the roots of the technology we have today,” the 17-year-old said. “It’s something that can survive outages and when the Internet is down.”

As he watched Boggs take part in the ham radio conversation, Franz said the Jamboree on the Air allows Scouts to get hands-on learning about how it all works.

“Without this, there’s no iPhone or Android,” he said. “It makes you appreciate it.”

Assisting Troop 106 in their radio adventure were folks from the Southern Ohio Amateur Association. The scouts helped members of the organization set up outside Central Christian Church in Ironton. Ken Massie, a longtime ham radio operator and member of the association, said the group wanted to spend time teaching the scouts about the importance of ham radio.

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