At the K2BSA tent, I go fox hunting with Scouts from N.C.

The beeping on Bram’s handheld radio intensified, and then: “I’m getting something!”

Like a trio of bloodhounds, three Scouts from Troop A120 out of Durham, N.C., were off to follow the digital scent.

Eight minutes later, they found their prize: a hidden radio transmitter.

Welcome to ARDF Fox Hunting at the 2013 jamboree’s K2BSA tent. Volunteers there made me an honorary member of the North Carolina team, though I did little more than get in the way.

In fox hunting — part geocaching, part orienteering — Scouts use radios and homemade antennas to locate a hidden “fox,” or transmitter. I can definitely see the appeal.

If the radios pictured above and below look like they were made out of PVC pipe and cut-up pieces of a tape measure, that’s because they were.

The finished product is something that’s functional, safe and ingenious — exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of Scouters. Imagine a bunch of teenagers running around the crowded jamboree site holding thin slices of metal, and you get why PVC and tape measure pieces presents the perfect solution. They’re rigid enough but also flexible so they won’t hurt anyone.

There’s a lot more at the K2BSA tent than just fox hunting, as longtime amateur radio veteran and my BSA colleague Jim Wilson explained.

Scouts who have a free morning or afternoon can earn the entire Radio merit badge at the jamboree. They’ll get 90 minutes of classroom instruction, 30 minutes in front of a radio to make contact with someone, and 90 minutes of wrap-up. They’re done in less than four hours, Wilson said.

Scouts who just want to try chatting with someone from another state or country can do that as well. Already Wilson and his team of volunteers have helped Scouts make contact with dozens of U.S. states and 16 different countries.

But these are more than just simple hellos between far-away radio operators.

At the station, Scouts “get a conversation going,” Wilson said. “And a lot of guys on the other end say they remember earning Radio merit badge when they were Scouts.”

There’s even more. Stay tuned on Saturday when 10 lucky Scouts will get to speak live to astronauts aboard the International Space Station as it passes overhead. Now that’s some out-of-this-world excitement.

More photos:









14 thoughts on “At the K2BSA tent, I go fox hunting with Scouts from N.C.

  1. Bryan: thanks for the constant post flow from Jambo. Since I cannot be there with my son, your reports are very helpful way for me to see what he is seeing and experiencing!!

    Steven J. Feder

    Assistant Scoutmaster

    Troop 19 – Bryn Mawr/BSA

  2. For more information about K2BSA, check out the Facebook page. All the ARDF/Foxhunting teams get listed here. Lots of other stories about our adventures in Ham Radio also get posted.

    • Your group is doing an excellent job… thank you! I’m anxious to work K2BSA on HF this week. My son is attending and I’m waiting for his report from visiting the station.

      Bob – K2UT
      ASM, Troop 26, Medford NJ

  3. Thanks Bryan for your support of Radio Scouting! Amateur Radio and Scouting go back to the very first BSA Handbook in 1910!

    For Scouters looking for more information about BSA Radio Scouting opportunities at the Jamboree and in their local area, check out

  4. From WB7TNE: TNX for the contact today at 22:00/22:06! Demi(Denny?) with a 5/9+10 over signal. As a Help, put the Fox Hunt transmitters in a butter/margarine tub,oatmeal tin, etc, into things commonplace for the large campsite you are operating from. My 4 transmitters are in Altoids mint tins(with super magnets from old hard drives glued on), and plainly marked for identification! Call sign and frequency, as putting them in a PVC pipe will surely cause consternation among the non-hams and Scouts who don’t know what they are and are not familiar with a Radio Fox Hunt activity, and you can use a bright colored tag to tell the finder what they have found! The info on the tag should steer the finder to the Radio ops! Have fun with ARDF!
    Daryle and Kris Brooks-ADC Gateway District/DAC-Colorado

  5. Can you post the frequencies and skeds for K2BSA? I want to get my son (Tenderfoot) on the air making contacts with Jambo and interested in ham radio.

  6. I see them spotted on the DX cluster, so that’s an option. Look around 14.290 and 7.190 +/- QRM. It seems they go QRT around 6 PM local time for dinner.

  7. my son earned his radio merit badge ay Jamboree. He sent me a text telling me about it. I love the constant updates. With all the texts from him and all the updates online, I feel like I’m there….well, almost!

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