Youths on Cape Cod are being given the opportunity to become modern-day “explorers” of Amateur Radio and communications–in a non-traditional Scouting environment.
According to Post 73‘s Committee Chair Tam Garran, K1TAG, “If you aren’t familiar with today’s Explorer program, it is a part of the Learning for Life program, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. There are no ranks or badges to be earned or uniform to wear, and it’s open for both boys and girls from 14 to 20 years of age.” Garran says the Post has been operational now for about a year. All of its members hold Technician class licenses. The Post is sponsored by the Barnstable Amateur Radio Club.
The Post, which meets at the police station in South Dennis, is governed by “lead advisors and advisors” as well as a “Post Committee.” Garran adds, “To date we have three very faithful members and one waiting to hit his 14th birthday and who regularly attends as a guest.”
According to Garran, there is keen interest in the members working to upgrade to General Class. Many of their bi-monthly meetings focus on General class instruction.
“We have just voted to participate in what we call Joint Venture Training. JVT is where we invite other Hams to join with our Post for training. We have the backing and support of the local Scout Council who administer the Learning for life program and hope to start classes in the next few weeks,” remarks Garran.
The safety of the youths is closely adhered to. Says K1TAG, “Because of the Youth Protection Program, we have to make sure that our youths are never in a one-on-one situation with non-Explorer folks, youth or adult, and for that matter we have to always have not less than two leaders with one member or two members with one adult. Since we have nine active adults, most of which belong to the Barnstable Amateur Radio Club, this is not a problem.”
Several of the Post 73 youths are also members of the sponsoring Barnstable ARC and active in BARC’s events. In fact, says, Garran, “One of the boys won the BARC fox gunt that we had back in October, 2010. And all of them were an active part of Field Day this past June.” Garran goes on to explain that the Post 73 crew were “key operators during the 2010 Jamboree on the Air event” held this past fall, as well as a Cape Cod Council Camporee in May, 2010. That event featured an impressive demonstration of Amateur Radio sponsored by the Barnstable club.
K1TAG and the other committee members and advisors are actively seeking youth participation at several different levels. “I think the biggest hurtle we have to overcome is the mentality of, ‘I can talk anywhere you can talk to on my cell phone.’ At each meeting,” he explains, “we try to have a program which presents different topics and interactive activities to prove that mentality isn’t quite correct.”