Category Archives: Scouting

Eclipse Boy Scout & Girl Scout Camping

In earlier posts, I posted regarding hotel availability, with updates for the western United States and eastern United States for the total eclipse on August 21. I also have links regarding where to get your eclipse glasses , which you will need to safely view the eclipse before and after totality. In general, hotel rooms are still available (but going fast) in the eastern U.S., but are very scarce in the western U.S.

If your family is involved in Scouting (and in some cases, even if you are not), one option for camping in the path of totality might be Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps. The following camps have special camping events scheduled for the eclipse weekend. Some of these are open only to troops, but a phone call might allow your scouting family to join in with a local troop. Other events are open to individual scouts and their families. Other events are open to the public. If you still need a camping spot, one of these might be your best option.

These are the eclipse scout camping opportunities I’m aware of. If you know of others, please let me know.  They’re listed here from west to east:

Oregon

Camp Pioneer
Cascade Pacific Council, OR
Weekend event for Boy Scouts, Venturers, Explorers

Idaho

Camp Bradley
Snake River Council, Idaho
Event appears to be open to public

Grand Teton Council, Idaho
Various events

Wyoming

Teton High Adventure Base
Great Salt Lake Council, Utah
Teton Eclipse Adventure

Camp Laramie Peak
Longs Peak Council, WY
Solar Eclipse Weekend at Camp Laramie Peak

Missouri

Pine Ridge EclipseFest
Greater St. Louis Area Council, MO
Weekend event for Boy Scout troops

Illinois

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois
Carbondale, IL
Total Eclipse of the Heartland for Girl Scouts

Kentucky

Pfeffer Scout Reservation
Lincoln Heritage Council, KY
Weekend event for Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs

Tennessee

Great Eclipse Campout
Boxwell Reservation
Middle Tennessee Council
Great Eclipse Campout

Georgia

Camp Rainey
Northeast Georgia Council
Scouts, Family Members, and the Public



1917 Boys’ Life: Signaling and Beans

1917JuneBLCover

A hundred years ago this month, both the front and back cover of the June 1917 issue of Boys’ Life magazine featured signaling methods. In the cover art shown above (with no attribution to the artist that I could find), a Scout is shown relaying a semaphore message to a distant point.

1917JuneBLBackNot to be outdone, the back cover, an ad for Colgate toothpaste, used International Morse Code to proclaim the messsage, “I BRING GOOD TEETH GOOD HEALTH.”  Since the nation was at war, the ad also reminded Scouts “how soldiers and sailors benefit from good teeth, and that they must have them to pass the physical examination.”

But the wartime service promoted by most of the magazine was the Scout’s duty to feed the nation and the troops.

It proclaimed that “no organization in the United States acted more promptly than the Boy Scouts of America when Congress declared, on April 5th, that a state of war existed between our country and Germany.  ‘Be Prepared’ is the Boy Scout motto, and more than a quarter of a million Scouts proved they WERE prepared.”  One of the first actions suggested was that in every large city, the Scouts should mobilize, march to the City Hall, and offer their services to the Mayor.  According to the magazine, many Scouts immediately did exactly that.

Mobilized Scouts offering their services at an unnamed city hall.

Mobilized Scouts offering their services at an unnamed city hall.

But the biggest task undertaken by Scouts was to help win the war through the gardening movement. As soon as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that every citizen was needed to increase the food supply, the National Headquarters of the BSA issued an emergency circular urging every scout to start a garden and persuade nine other people to do the same.

The slogan adopted was, “every scout to feed a soldier.” It meant that every Scout was expected to raise enough food to feed himself, thus freeing up enough food to feed the soldier.

Almost immediately, National Headquarters fired off a telegram to London, to none other than Herbert Clark Hoover, who was already “famous for his great efficiency in managing the enormous relief work among stricken peoples of Europe.” The cable read:

Two hundred fifty thousand Boy Scouts of America tender services as your aides as producers and conservers of food as service to our country.

Mr. Hoover immediately cabled back his response, and his response was that Scouts should raise beans:

The prime service of our Country in this War is ships and food, and we can here display the true American ability at great efforts.

In order to provide the food necessary we must from this moment eliminate all waste and stimulate food production at every point. We must send to our Allies more wheat, corn, beans, meat, bacon and lard than we have ever sent before if their men are to fight and their women and children to live; and our people must economize and eat other things.

Among these foodstuffs couldn’t the Scouts take as their own province the stimulation of bean production, for there is not only a great shortage at Europe and at home, but they are the best of foods. Let them help make America able to export ten times as many beans as she ever exported before. To do this, let the Boy Scouts see to it that they are planted everywhere, so that the biggest bean crop ever known shall be the war contribution of the Boy Scouts to America and her Allies.

(Signed) Herbert C. Hoover.

Theodore Roosevelt, upon receiving a copy of Hoover’s telegram, signaled his assent: “I think Mr. Hoover’s suggestion that the Scouts take as their own province the stimulation of bean production is particularly good. Let each Scout start a garden and thereby help feed the soldiers.”

Scouts clearing idle land in preparation for a crop. The caption notes that fire is a useful ally, but the Scouts watch it closely. In a month, this field was to be covered with navy beans.

Scouts clearing idle land in preparation for a crop. The caption notes that fire is a useful ally, but the Scouts watch it closely. In a month, this field was to be covered with navy beans.

The magazine noted that navy or field beans were an easy crop to grow. They would show good yields even on poor soil or thin soils. They could be planted late, after the rush of other planting had subsided, and required only a third of the cultivation required of corn. With a good season and average care, a yield of 10 to 25 bushels per acre was to be expected. Their high food value and ease of storage made them an excellent war crop.

The magazine also noted that many Scout camps would turn into farms. Since there was a scarcity of farm help, the Scouts would help to fill the gap. Even though they would learn to plant and pick, there would still be plenty of fun after the day’s work was over.

Finally, the magazine announced that the BSA would be offering a War Service Emblem for Scouts who were responsible for starting ten gardens or inducing ten people to increase their garden acreage.



1942 QST: Visual Signalling

1942JuneQSTSignalling

75 years ago, American amateur radio operators were off the air for the duration, but QST kept rolling off the presses, and continued to encourage hams to hone their skills for the war effort.  One skill, of course, where hams had a natural edge was their knowledge of the International Morse Code, which was widely used both in the military and by government and civilian radio stations.

In the June 1942 issue, long time QST Editor Clinton DeSoto, W1CBD, wrote this article about methods of visual signalling. He noted that many a young amateur “joined up with the Navy or the Sginal Corps secure in the belief that because he knew radio he knew all there was to know about communications.”

But DeSoto noted that knowledge of CW and radiotelephone, and even a smattering of wire telephone and telegraph, covered only a part of communications methods then in use. In many cases, radio was unavailable, such in cases where a ship had to observe radio silence, and wires were not always an option. Therefore, especially in the Navy, but also in the Army Signal Corps, a knowledge of visual signalling methods was critical.

In the article, he gives a primer on the methods then in use, and encouraged hams to learn these methods. Those methods were (1) aural; (2) blinker; (3) wigwag; (4) semaphore; and (5) the international flag code.

DeSoto noted that aural signalling would require little or no new knowledge for a ham, since copying Morse from a fog horn or siren was no more difficult than copying CW on the air.

Copying code from a light blinker required a bit of practice, since the ham had to use a different sense to transmit the signal to the brain. However, he noted that most hams could acquire a speed of 8-10 words per minute with just a few hours practice. This speed was quite useful, since 12 WPM was about the maximum ever encountered in blinker work.

The third method, wigwag, was rarely used, but since it was also based on International Morse Code, most hams would have an edge when it came to using it. In wigwag, a single signal flag or light is used. It is dipped to the left (from the viewer’s point of view) for a dot, and to the right for a dash. Between dots and dashes, the flag or light is held vertically above the head.

Wigwag is very slow and cumbersome, and had a maximum speed of a couple of words per minute. For that reason, it was rarely used except when nothing else would serve.

The much more efficient system of signalling with flags is semaphore, and DeSoto devoted much of the article to its explanation. As shown in the diagram above, semaphore uses two flags held in the positons shown above. Semaphore had been around since Napoleon’s day, and in addition to flags, shore-to-ship communication, and even inland links, of the past had used stations with tall masts and giant signalling arms.

With practice, a skilled operator could achieve speeds up to 25 words per minute, making semaphore a vitally useful skill.

The article gave the basics of the procedure used. To begin, the sender would wave the flags for the attention signal, until the receiving operator answered with the acknowledgment “C”. As the sender completed each word, he dropped his arms to the “break” signal. At that point, the receiver would acknowledge with another “C”. If no acknowledgement was received, that word would be repeated.

Some of the prosigns and abbreviations used by hams were also used in semaphore. For example, the symbol AR was commonly used to indicate the end of a message.

Finally, DeSoto spent some time discussing the international flag code, which used individual flags for each letter of the alphabet. Each flag also had an independent meaning. Therefore, if a single flag was displayed on the signal mast, it was understood that it was conveying that message.

To minimize the number of flags that had to be carried, four flags were assigned as “repeat” flags. The “First Repeat” flag would be used to indicate that the first letter of the word was being repeated. The “Second Repeat” flag would mean that the second letter of the word was being used again.

The international flags were reproduced in the article, but in black and white. DeSoto warned that it wouldn’t be a good idea to attempt to learn them from those illustrations. He recommended either coloring them on the pages of the magazine with water colors or crayons, or simply making a set of identification cards in the correct colors. He also included the source of flashcards, available for 50 cents postpaid, or the official “International Code of Signals (Vol. 1, Visual and Sound)” available from the Navy Department for $2.25. A more recent edition of that text is available at this link.

This article would be of particular interest to Boy Scouts or their counselors working on the Signs Signals and Codes merit badge.  As I discussed previously at this post and this post, that merit badge includes Morse Code, semaphore, international flag codes, in addition to other topics.  Therefore, DeSoto’s 1942 article includes much of the information necessary to earn the merit badge.

Elsewhere in the same issue of QST (page 53), ARRL Communications Manager F.E. Handy, W1BDI, suggested a use for the signal flags. With amateur radio off the air, there would be no Field Day in 1942. Handy suggested that hams could use the traditional Field Day weekend, the third weekend in June, to make an outing to their usual Field Day location to practice some of these techniques:

Working in pairs, amateurs should call out characters as they are interpreted from the flags, impressing a bystander for ‘recorder’ if necessary. With some experience you will with to try for greater DX. Then we also suggest a planned trek to the usual FD location if you can make it on that third weekend of June. This will make a good outing for those of the group that can be rounded up; it will rouse afresh the memories of the last ARRL Field Day. Don’t forget to give the signal-flag idea a Field Day workout!



Wake Up America Day 1917

A hundred years ago, April 19, 1917, it was “Wake Up America Day,” an event designed to boost recruiting for the First World War.

The days main event was a parade in New York City.   In the photo here, Abraham Lincoln impersonator Benjamin Chapin is shown riding in an antique coach.  He is followed by Boy Scouts bearing illuminated signs with the points of the Scout Law, along with the words, “We are coming, Father Abraham, thousands strong.”



His Kite Wireless, 1917

1917MarchBL

A hundred years ago this month, the March 1917 issue of Boys’ Life magazine featured this illustration of a Scout preparing to send his wireless aerial aloft by means of a kite.

The title of the design is “His Kite Wireless,” by prolific illustrator Charles L. Wrenn (1880-1952).

The magazine also carried a two-page photo spread of Boy Scouts as long distance talkers, whether it be by semaphore, telegraph, or wireless.  At the time, varying levels of skill in each were required for Second Class, First Class, and the Signalling Merit Badge.

1917MarchBL1



1917 Career Advice for Scouts: Electrical Engineering

1917FebBL

A hundred years ago this month, the February 1917 issue of Boys’ Life gave some career advice to scouts who were busy working on the Electricity merit badge, by letting them know how they could become electrical engineers.

The railroads, for example, relied upon telephone and telegraph systems and power plants. The “untrained man” could start as a conductor or motorman, but would remain in the ranks of the unskilled unlesss he added to his limited daily experience by a course of study in an area such as electrical engineering.

Such study could be done through private study and reading and correspondence and night schools, as well as more formal trade and engineering schools. Even the poor boy was not necessarily barred, since the best schools were often not the most expensive.

The article noted that getting ahead after graduation meant hard, dogged work, since the graduate still had to learn many practical engineering skills to get his bearings. But there was no reason why a competent technical graduate wouldn’t be able to rise to $2000 per year.

It should be noted that the magazine’s proofreader apparently let one slip by. The Morse Code shown in the illustration reads, “BE PREPARED AND DO A GOOD TURN DAMLY.”



Career Ideas for Scouts: Merchant Marine Radio Officer

1947JanBL

Seventy years ago, the January 1947 issue of Boys’ Life contained some career advice for scouts looking for excitement:

Becoming “Sparks,” a radio officer in the Merchant Marine. The article’s author was Merceant Marine radio officer Lt. Robert Aronson, who noted that as ears and mouth of the ship, the position was one of rank and responsibility.

The most important job was to maintain a constant watch on the international distress frequency, 500 kilocycles. Other duties included a daily check of the radio room batteries with a hydrometer, and checking the traffic lists of the coast stations for any incoming messages.

And, of course, the job offered plenty of opportunities for heroism. The article begins with the tale of a radio operator firing up the transmitter of the ship in distress, and within moments having every ship within 800 miles prepare to rescue. “Radio alert was maintained throughout that sector of the ocean until, two hours later, one of the freighters announced triumphantly that she had all forty-six of the crew aboard, uninjured. Once again, a capable ‘Sparks’ had blocked off a watery grave.”

The job offered a lot of spare time to read, play cards, study, or anything else. The author noted that many radiomen found the life at sea ideally suited to advancing their knowledge of radio or any other subject.

The author’s advice for scouts contemplating this career was to get their ham license, a license only “slightly lower in grade and requirements than a commercial operator.” With the amateur license, the scout could set up his own station and communicate just as though he were on a ship.

The commercial license could be acquired by enrolling in a school, but for the student who could read a textbook and absorb the instructions, he pointed out that there was no reason not to engage in self-study. The amateur license would allow the student to practice the things taught by the books, and those books were available in any public library.

The prospective operator would be eligible for a commission as an officer six months after signing on to a ship, and at that time, the government made available excellent correspondence courses.

The author noted that the commercial license was the passport to adventure, but cautioned against hastily going to sea, especially if one had a “flaring temper or if you sulk, if doing the same thing day in and day out gets you down.” For prospective radio operators who fit those descriptions, he advised that one of the many radio jobs ashore might be better suited.

 



Boy Scout Field Telephone-Telegraph, 1937

1937JanBLEighty years ago this month, the January 1937 issue of Boys’ Life carried this ad for the official BSA field set, a field telephone and telegraph.  For $9.50, a scout could acquire two such units.  The possibilities for use during hiking and camping, or between two friends’ houses, seem limitless.

More details are given in an ad appearing in the February 1934 issue, which reveals that the set is manufactured by the American Electric Company, of 1033 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, “one of the world’s foremost makers of commercial telephone equipment.”  Contained in a durable khaki colored weatherproof case having a strong carrying strap, the set was ready for use at any time by simply connecting to line wires.  The set was said to have a range to be able to signal and talk clearly over a thousand feet.  The set was switched from telephone to telegraph simply by switching the key into the telegraph position.

The set was patented under US Patent 2072264, which described the set as being “inexpensively and ruggedly built to fill the need for such an assembly by Boy Scout organizations and others having need for inexpensive equipment which may be employed to establish temporary or permanent telephone-telegraph communication between two points.”

The only evidence of a surviving example I was able to find online was this eBay listing, which unfortunately contains only a photo of the unit in the closed position.

A resourceful Boy Scout owning such a telephone probably wouldn’t have had much trouble figuring out the Quist Quiz which appeared in the December 1956 issue of QST:

1956DecQuistQuiz

Two Scouts, one on each side of the river, are equipped with their official BSA field telephone-telegraph sets.  Without crossing the river or running a wire across the river, how can they hook up the phones?

Loyal readers of OneTubeRadio.com already know the answer, since we previously showed a similar system.  If you missed it, you’ll need to wait until tomorrow to see the answer.



Boy Scouts Distribute Air Raid Posters: 1942


1942jan12chitrib
In hindsight, the likelihood of air raids against Chicago during the Second World War seems small. But the Windy City, as well as the entire region, was a bit safer thanks to the efforts of the Boy Scouts, as reported by the Chicago Tribune75 years ago today, January 12, 1942. According to this article, the 110,000 Boy Scouts in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were making plans to distribute air raid instruction posters throughout the region.

According to the article, Chief Scout Executive James E. West had wired civil defense officials that the Scouts “would keep on the job until the nation is blanketed with air raid posters and all communities can join the Boy Scouts in being prepared for the emergencies that war may bring us.”

For more information about Boy Scouts during World War II, see my earlier post.



1917 Boys’ Life Transmitter

1917janblA hundred years ago this month, the January 1917 issue of Boys’ Life magazine carried the plans for constructing this wireless sending set. The author, A. Frederick Collins, had written the previous month on how to construct a receiver.

He notes that five parts are required: A spark coil, a tuning coil, a telegraph key, a spark gap, a battery, and an aerial switch, hooked up as shown here. The spark coil, the same type used for gas engine firing, was available for about five dollars. For those who wished to build their own, he directed readers to his own Book of Wireless, which contained more complete plans.

The tuing coil could also be procured for about five dollars, but he notes that a boy could easily make his own, and provides details.

He concludes:

A wireless telegraph set will give you all the apparatus you need for you to experiment with and theory to rack your brains over and on for the rest of your life, and it will also give you a liberal education in a highly specialized field of electricity.