When Scouts want to meet young people from another country, they usually think of attending a World Jamboree. But few people realize that each year more than a million Scouts and Guides “get together” over the airwaves for the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA).
During the 2014 event, worldwide Scouting participation included 1.1 million boy Scouts and 200,000 Girl Guides/Girls Scouts, for a total participation of over 1.3 million — the largest Scouting event in the world.
Modern technology offers Scouts the existing opportunity to make friends in other countries without leaving home. JOTA is an annual event in which Boy and Girl Scouts and Guides from all over the world speak to each other by means of Amateur (ham) Radio. Scouting experiences are exchanged and ideas are shared via radio waves.
Since 1958 when the first Jamboree-on-the-Air was held, millions of Scouts have met each other through this event. Many contacts made during JOTA have resulted in pen pals and links between Scout troops that have lasted years. With no restrictions on age or on the number of participants, and at little or no expense, JOTA allows Scouts to contact each other by ham radio. The radio stations are operated by licensed amateur radio operators. Many Scouts and leaders hold licenses and have their own stations, but the majority participate in JOTA through stations operated by local radio clubs and individual radio amateurs.