Youth operating Field Day at Clay Center ARC in Brookline, MA


Tom Walsh, K1TW
Section Manager
9 Wildwood Drive
Bedford, MA 01730
Tel: 781-275-5882


Amateur Radio is a wonderful past time for youths. However, given the ever-increasing time demands society places on  younger individuals, it’s not easy to capture their interest and attention–especially when youths look around at club meetings and field days and see themselves surrounded by an aging population of radio amateurs. Fortunately, innovative programs and activities have been developed to target youths nationally and locally.

STEM Activities for Youth

Many children become interested in electronics-related sciences at an early age, particularly with all the “gadgets” they have access to these days.  Radio electronics can be enjoyed outside the classroom as a “hobby” that can last a lifetime.  Helping children learn amateur radio basics at an early age can help instill a lasting positive attitude toward science and math and keep their interest in later years when peer pressure and competing activities sometimes displace their science interests.  Many older generation radio operators often talk about getting their ham radio license around age 12 or 13 and enjoying the hobby on and off for many years.  Some students applying for college have mentioned amateur radio on their applications as a way to set themselves apart from the average students.  For those students interested in studying engineering, computer science, or communications, amateur radio is a valuable asset. Amateur Radio is a blend of science, technology, engineering, and math, the basis of a true “STEM” subject. [Clay Center ARC website]

ARRL Youth Programs

Kids Day

Twice a year, ARRL offers an event known as Kids Day designed to promote Amateur Radio to our youth. Share the excitement with your kids or grandkids, a Scout troop, a church or the general public. Kids Day is designed to give on-the-air experience to young people and hopefully foster interest in getting a license of their own. It is also intended to give older hams a chance to share their station and love for Amateur Radio with their children. [ARRLWeb]

School Club Roundup

Date(s): February 12-16, 2018; October 15-19, 2018

Objective: To exchange QSO information with club stations that are part of an elementary, middle, high school or college. Non-school clubs and individuals are encouraged to participate. Sponsored by the ARRL, its Hudson Division Education Task Force and and the Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club (LIMARC) to foster contacts with and among school radio clubs.

Award certificates will be issued for the following US and DX categories:

Schools: Elementary, Middle/Intermediate/Junior High School, High School and College/University
Non-school Clubs

See for full details.

Jamboree On The Air

Dates: October 19-21, 2018

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).

JOTA is the largest Scouting event in the world.  It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. This jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby amateur radio operator’s ham shack. Many times you can find the hams will come to you by setting up a station at your Scout camporee, at the park down the block, or perhaps at a ham shack already set up at your council’s camp. []

Scouts of any age can participate, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers, including girls. Once at the ham radio station, the communication typically involves talking on a microphone and listening on the station speakers. However, many forms of specialized communication may also be taking place, such as video communication, digital communication (much like sending a message on your smartphone but transmitted by radio), or communication through a satellite relay or an earth-based relay (called a repeater). The exchanges include such information as name, location (called QTH in ham speak), Scout rank, age, and hobbies. The stations you’ll be communicating with can be across town, across the country, or even around the world! The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2016 JOTA had nearly 1.3 million Scout participants from more than 30,000 locations, and reached 156 countries. [ARRLWeb]

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

“What do thunderstorms look like from outer space?” “Do you ever get claustrophobic in the ISS?” “What did the Leonid meteor shower look like from the space station?” “Why did you want to become an astronaut?” “What is your diet like in space?” “Can we talk to you only when you are above us?”

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) inspires students, worldwide, to pursue interests and  careers in science, technology, engineering and math through amateur radio communications opportunities with the International Space Station (ISS) on-orbit crew.  Students learn about life on board the ISS and explore Earth from space through science and math activities. ARISS provides opportunities for the school community (students, teachers, families and community members) to become more aware of the substantial benefits of human spaceflight and the exploration and discovery that occur on spaceflight journeys. Students have the opportunity to learn about space technologies and the technologies involved with space communications through exploration of amateur radio. []

Youth Activities in Eastern Massachusetts

Jamboree On The Air

Jamboree On The Air operations have been conducted by individuals and radio clubs. The following clubs have held, or plan to hold future events:

  • Barnstable ARC
  • Clay Center ARC
  • Falmouth ARC
  • Taunton Area Communications Group
  • Whitman ARC

Thinking Day On the Air

Stan Pozerski, KD1LE with a young participant at Thinking Day On The Air
Stan Pozerski, KD1LE

Since 2015 the Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club has participated in the Girl Scouts “Thinking Day On The Air” (TDOTA) sponsored by the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.  “Thinking Day is held annually in late February, on or near the birthday of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout and Guide movements, as well as that of his wife Olave, who was the first World Chief Guide.  In 1909 Baden-Powell, faced with an increasing number of girls wishing to take part in Scouting, decided that girls should have their own separate movement. Thus the Girl Guides were founded.”

NVARC members have held recent TDOTA operations in Northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. In 2017, they operated in two separate events: in Shirley, Massachusetts and Raymond, New Hampshire.

The Nashoba Valley ARC encourages other radio clubs to become involved in this worthwhile endeavor. For more information on how your club can get started, visit

ARISS in Eastern Massachusetts

Several ARISS events in the section have taken place in recent years.

ARISS contact with the East Falmouth Elementary School on Oct. 26, 2012
East Falmouth Elementary School ARISS contact. Photo courtesy K1MGH.

The Falmouth Amateur Radio Association assisted with an ARISS operation on October 26, 2012 at the East Falmouth Elementary School between the school children and astronaut Sunita Williams, KD5PLB operating NA1SS.

In 2005, the Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club organized a successful ARISS event at the Hawthorne Brook Middle School in Townsend with astronaut William McArthur, KC5ACR.

Several area Cape Cod schools participated in an ARISS contact on January 18, 2003 at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Youths at Peebles Elementary School in Buzzards Bay spoke to astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ operating NA1SS on July 12, 2001.

Youth Clubs

Clay Center ARC, W1CLA

The Clay Center ARC (CC-ARC)  is comprised of parents, teachers, students, summer campers, and even NASA astronauts.  The club is based on the top floor of the Clay Center Observatory high on a hill on the campus of Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, MA.

There is a radio room set up with HF, VHF, and UHF rigs, a conference room with a kitchenette for meetings and classes, a world-class telescopic observatory, and solar- and wind-energy roof decks with 360-degree views of greater Boston.

The CC-ARC holds weekly in-person meetings and a club net. They also feature regular volunteer exam sessions, under  the  auspices of New England Amateur Radio, Inc. CC-ARC is offering a license class in March and April, 2018.


Explorer Club 73 at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, K1CLS

Explorer Club 73 meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Harwich from 3 PM to 4:30 PM. The intermediate school serves children in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. It is sponsored by the Barnstable Amateur Radio Club in connection with the Cape Cod and Islands Council and Explorer Program.

Explorer Club 73 features a club station with HF  and VHF radios and a tri-band antenna along with a 2meter/440 antenna on the roof. They are active in the School Club Roundup. The students are taught about ham radio and encouraged to get their ham license. Students who receive their licenses receive a free handheld radio. The club conducts license classes during the school year and have  graduated a number of students.

Harvard Wireless Club, W1AF

photo of K6AUS operating W1AF
K6AUS operating W1AF

One of the oldest club stations in existence, the Harvard Wireless Club (HWC) was founded in 1909.  Over the years, hundreds of alumni have operated its storied radio station. HWC participates in numerous contests and on-air events, like the ARRL DX contests (phone and CW weekends) as well as Sweepstakes.

The club is located at 6 Linden Street, in Cambridge.  Meeting times and locations vary.

HWC features an impressive array of antennas, including a Cushcraft XM240 “Big Thunder” 2-element 40-meter beam, in addition to an M2 10-30LP8 8-element log periodic for 30 through 10 meters. A smaller tower features a Cushcraft A50-5S 5-element 6-meter beam and a Cushcraft x7 7-element on 20, 15, and 10 meters.  The roof also contains an 80-meter inverted V dipole and a Cushcrxaft AR270B 2 m/70 cm vertical antenna. I

Radios include: Icom IC-756 Pro III (HF/6 meters) and  Icom IC-821 (2 m/70 cm) transceivers; and an Icom IC-4KL 1 kw amplifier (160-10 meters).


MIT Radio Society, W1MX

“Formerly 1XM, the MIT Radio Society (W1MX) is America’s oldest college amateur station. The MIT Radio Society  is a student run organization intended for MIT students, faculty, and staff. New student members are greatly appreciated. The MIT Radio Society meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM on the third floor of Walker Memorial (50-358) in Cambridge.

“The W1MX HF station is located on the third floor of Walker Memorial on the MIT campus in room 50-358. The station has two operating positions. The primary operating position consists of a Ten-Tec Orion and Ten-Tec Orion II, configured for SO2R operation. These radios are connected to Henry 2K4 and Acom 2000A linear amplifiers, respectively. The second operating position is a Yaesu FT-2000 and Ameritron AL-1200 linear amplifier.

“The antennas at W1MX consist of Mosley PRO-96 and TA-36 HF beams, as well as a full-size 160 meter dipole, suspended off the corner of the Green Building (building 54) at nearly 300’ AGL. As contest season comes and goes, the roof of Walker is constantly being rearranged with various receive loops and experimental HF antennas.

“The antenna system is made complete through an array of antenna tuners (one per band) and a remote switching mechanism that allows for quick band changes with minimal retuning. Gracing the back corner of the 50-358 shack is the Collins S-Line console, which served W1MX into the 1980s, though it sees little operation today. Adjoining the station, in room 50-357, is a workshop with benches and some machine tools. It also has a massive collection of W1MX history, in the form of parts and old radios.”


Northeastern Wireless Club, W1KBN

photo of Northeastern Wireless Club tower and beam antenna
Northeastern Wireless Club

“The Northeastern Wireless Club is a team of individuals geared toward helping students learn more about electronics and pursue their interests in amateur radio. We help students learn more about electronics through actual circuit design and debugging. Students from all disciplines can meet to work on projects and learn electronics through hands-on application. The club features a members exclusive lab space and a full amateur radio station. The Wireless Club exists to foster a spirit of technological exploration with a primary emphasis on electronics and computer technology. Lab space and equipment allows students to tinker, experiment, build, and learn on their own in an unstructured way.” [courtesy Northeastern Wireless Club website]

The club meets Thursday evenings at 6 PM during the academic year in Hayden Hall, Room 503, 370 Huntington Avenue, in Boston, MA.

Venture Crew 47, KB1PAL

“[Sponsored by the North Shore Radio Association,] the purpose of Crew 47 is to get Scouts interested in ham radio communications so that they can participate in events and provide emergency communications in times of need.

Events include everything from:

  • Klondike Derbies,
  • District Events,
  • The Head of the Charles Regatta,
  • HF Contests and
  • Field Day

This mix of different events is the main characteristic of Amateur Radio. Amateur operators become involved for many reasons, but they all have a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles.

To become a licensed operator you have to pass a written examination from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This exam is 35 multiple choice questions allowing you to become a Technician License Holder, the technician license is the introductory level of Amateur Radio, which allows you to operate on radio frequencies known as the Amateur Bands. These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the FCC for use by hams.  Morse Code is no longer a requirement for obtaining a ham license.

You do not need to be a licensed operator to join the crew, anyone interested can sign up and learn about Ham Radio. For more information about the crew, to become a licensed Amateur Radio Operator, or any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact us at anytime.”  []

Venture Crew 47 is currently on hiatus.

Section Youth Coordinator

The ARRL has created a new section level leadership position known as the Section Youth Coordinator. The SYC has been tasked with maintaining a current assessment of active youth amateur radio operators in the section, including those involved within clubs, Scouting and other youth organizations, and schools; promoting youth-related on-air activities including ARRL Kid’s Day, Jamboree on the Air (JOTA), Field Day, and School Club Roundup; and, providing youth related ideas and resources to amateur radio clubs and individuals within the section.

See Also

“Using Ham Radios to Increase Public Safety”

Youth Forum at 2017 New England Division Convention