When Scout leaders were trained to be amateur radio operators


Did you know that amateur radio supplies can come in handy when the network is down? In case you haven’t realized this fact before, now you do! Scott deMasi, the Assistant Scoutmaster, knew the right way to react to such an alarming situation with the power outage in the Kingwood Subdivision in Texas. In 2017, the devastating Hurricane Harvey (Category 4) wreaked havoc in many parts of the region, including the Scott deMasi Subdivision.

If you’ve ever watched the devastation a hurricane can cause, you won’t be surprised to learn about washed-up bridges, flooded roads, power outages, and washed-out cell phone towers. One thing we have learned from pandemics and natural disasters like these is that often times we are unprepared for emergencies and lack the right kind of precautionary measures and survival tools / gadgets. To deal with the frustration of power cuts and with no way to reach family and friends and save them if they were safe, deMasi realized something had to be done.

The ultimate solution: amateur radio

After the water level dropped, the two Deputy Scout Leaders, David Godell and Scott deMasi, sat down and looked for a solution to communicate effectively with their troop of 100 Scouts. Scott deMasi had spent 15 years as an amateur radio operator and knew the effectiveness of amateur radio at times when its survival was in danger. The task that remained was to train their troop of 100 scouts and their parents to operate amateur radios. With the power out and the roads flooded with water, using an amateur radio was indeed a vital skill.

At the first meeting, the Scouts received study materials and useful links to familiarize themselves with these great radio communication devices. Scouts were also taken to test sites to enable them to become licensed amateur radio operators. To increase their troupe’s interest and level of participation, deMasi and Godell collaborated with their local radio club, and a one-day class was held for the troupe at the Texas Emergency Amateur Communicators radio station. Subsequently, ending with the compulsory licensing exam, the Scouts were motivated enough to meet almost all of the requirements to earn their merit badge.

The two Scoutmasters bought them portable radios with the correct frequencies to allow their troops to continue to use and practice their new skills. Once the seed of interest was planted in the minds of the Boy Scouts, there was no turning back.

Practice leads to perfection

At Scouting events, such as camps, Certified Scouts and adults began to use their skills. The information was transmitted by radio from one camp to another and patrolling via radio amateurs through the camps. By practicing a policy of no cell phone use, radio amateurs have become the only means of communication. So, amateur radios provided the only platform to stay in touch with others.

During service projects, licensed Scouts communicated instructions to fellow Scouts while being spread over a larger space. With the help and efforts of their scout leaders, the troop gained confidence by offering them the possibility of using amateur radios. Seeing their fellow Scouts with portable amateur radios also prompted other Scouts to get their licenses. It worked like a butterfly effect; after two dozen fired scouts got their radios, others wanted radios.

According to the Scoutmasters, you can get the best amateur radios for as little as $ 25 just if you buy them in bulk. By giving each of the licensed scouts a call sign, they learned to identify with their fellow radio amateurs. The good news is that there is no age limit to become a licensed amateur radio operator. However, all amateur radio operators should follow the guidelines provided by the Federal Communications Commission.

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