Episode 59 of Ham Radio 360 just dropped! In it I was interviewed by Cale K4CDN about the experiences I had at YOTA as well as some ideas to bring to your club and ham radio organizations to promote and retain young people in amateur radio.
On the 16th of May, 2016, I was emailed by Ward Silver, NØAX, president of YASME and Glenn Johnson, WØGJ, vice president of NCDXF, about an opportunity to attend the 2016 Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) camp being held in Wagrain, Austria. Next thing I knew…
I was in Europe.
Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) is a week-long camp filled with activities all related to ham radio. Over 30 countries are represented by over 110 young hams (licensed and not licensed) yearly in an IARU Region 1 country that’s selected by application.
You can see by the schedule that it’s truly jam packed. From workshops on antenna building:
and digital radio, EME, meteor scatter and satellites:
and we learned about each others culture and lifestyles with an international night:
and made over 7,000 contacts from the OE2YOTA special event station:
And so much more. It was an incredible experience every young ham should be a part of.
The Austrian radio society did an amazing job of hosting and recording the event. They kept a daily vlog of activities which you can find on https://vimeo.com/oevsv. Please check out the daily videos starting with number one – reception:
I was asked to attend this YOTA camp in support of a fact-finding mission – to determine what, exactly, makes YOTA so fun, successful, well-attended and well ran – so that in the near future, either the ARRL, IARU Region 2 or both can begin a similar program. Such a camp doesn’t exist in Region 2 at the moment, but such details are very early in the planning stages.
I chose a good friend of mine – Sam Rose, KC2LRC – to accompany me as a team. He’s a brilliant photographer and public speaker, so it great he could come along. We also had a few other young hams in mind to attend, but due to work/school conflicts (and the very last-minute notice) they could not. 🙁
The Boy Scouts of America has a program called Jamboree on the Air – JOTA, but that doesn’t share the same ideal as YOTA. JOTA exists so the scouts can get their radio merit badge, and consequently learn about amateur radio, making contacts, widening horizons, and making friends over the air.
YOTA exists for similar reasons, but mainly because a bunch of young hams came together with the same understanding that ham radio is aging, and the youth are the future. So, they started a youth commitee YOTA – a contingent of passionate young hams dedicated to continuing the art and science of ham radio by promoting youth involvement.
I have honestly felt no greater hope and inspiration than from attending YOTA. I’ve been to youth lounges and rallies at various US hamfests, but nothing comes close to the week-long experience I had in Austria with over 100 other people who were just like me.
In the coming weeks I will be writing a reports, presentations and publications for YASME, NCDXF, ARRL, IARU, and other local clubs to promote the idea of a YOTA camp in the western hemisphere (and hopefully even region 3). Stay tuned here for public presentations on getting youth initially involved in amateur radio, and ways of retaining their interest.
I really think this is a wave of the future for youth in amateur radio. Aside from using ham radio as a tool for science and learning, it only makes sense to show that there are young people interested in the core of the hobby as well – contesting, DXing, operating, and of course using ham radio as a tool for things like ISS contacts, satellites, remote control and more.