Jack, AB8RK, my partner in the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Project, is hot to get the Boy Scouts involved in amateur radio. This seemed a natural extension of the museum project, as they hold they have activities there frequently. Jack’s idea was to have a session at the museum that would guide scouts through the activities needed to get the radio merit badge.
With that in mind, we met with James McClelland, program director of the BSA’s local council. He suggested that instead of doing this at the museum, we do this on a Saturday at one of their camps. In fact, he more than suggested, he really pushed the idea.
The way he explained it, it makes a lot of sense to do it at the camps, rather than at the museum. First of all, they like to use the camps, and an activity like this will draw troops to the camp. Second, there’s plenty of room at the camp, so facilities will not be a problem. Third, there will be scouts there just camping, and we may get some interest from scouts who just happen to be there.
So, we set the date – March 31 at Camp Munhackie. Now, we have to see about “being prepared.”
Fortunately, the Boy Scouts of America make this easy. McClelland gave us a brochure on merit badge counseling, as well as the Radio Merit Badge handbook. The handbook is compact and well-written. And, as it notes, once a Scout has mastered the material in the handbook, they know just about all they need to know to get their Tech licenses.
I think our task will also be made easier if we can get the materials used by hams at the 2005 Boy Scout Jamboree. As reported in the article, “K2BSA at the 2005 Boy Scout National Jamboree” (March 2006 QST), they were able to teach everything the scouts needed to know in three, one-hour sessions.
McClelland suggested that we break this down even further into smaller “mini sessions” that small groups of scouts would visit in round-robin fashion. I like this idea a lot, too. Now, the trick will be to get enough hams for each to take responsibility for and teach each mini-session.
To top it all off, I think it will be fun to also set up a station at the camp to just make contacts. Once we’ve finished with the merit badge classes, we can follow things up by having them talk on the radio and/or give Morse Code demonstrations. This looks like it will be a fun event.
UPDATE: 1/25/07: Gary, K2GW, has just pubished a Radio Merit Badge Web page. This is a very complete resource, including not only the materials needed to conduct the session, but also ideas on how to promote the event and a suggested timetable for the event. Thanks, Gary!