In the open-air chapel at Camp McLean in Langley, VA7NF was explaining the art of communicating long-distance by ham radio to a small group of scouts.
That is the amateur radio callsign for Stan Williams, one of several volunteers teaching scouts how to maintain communications in the event of an emergency.
Elsewhere in the youth camp owned and operated by Scouts Canada in Campbell Valley Park, a wire antenna was strung up from some trees next to the chapel and not far away, a 100-foot-tall portable radio tower overlooked the tall trees in a clearing.
Over at the main lodge, scouts were on the internet, communicating with their counterparts across the globe in supervised chat rooms.
About 100 scouts and 40 volunteers took part in the weekend event, part of the worldwide Jamboree On The Air and Jamboree On The Internet (JOTA-JOTI).
It is the largest scouting event in the world with over 1.8 million participating.
“I think the count of countries (contacted) is up around 40,” said organizer Greg Kear.
That included communications with fellow scouts in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Australia, he said.
Some scouts were even geting a brief introduction to the “lost art” of Morse code, Kear said, the dots-and-dash code that is still used by some ham radio operators.
Despite the Internet, cell phones, email and modern communications, every year whole regions find themselves in the dark. When tornadoes, fires, storms, landslides, ice and vandalism, sever internet, cell phone and email connections, the one consistent service that has never failed has been amateur or “ham” radio.
They are federally licensed radio operators, who can provide backup communications for everything from community events to local emergency operations centres.
Scouts took part in a variety of events including a “Foxhunt” using portable handheld units to search for hidden transmitters in the woods surrounding the camp communicating using orbiting satellites well as UHF/VHF radio.
“It’s very educational and fun,” Kear said.
He said special thanks were due to the Surrey Amateur Radio Club, Langley Amateur Radio Association, and TELUS for volunteering time to facilitate the event.
The first JOTA/JOTI was held in 1957.