International Electronic and Ham Radio Camp 2012 in the Czech Republic

Members of OK2KDJ and OK2KJT organized a 10 days camp for children from 10 to 16 years. The objective was to attract youth generation to electronics and ham. Members of these radioclubs organize and lead electronic free time hobby groups from October to June already for many years. We have been thinking about extension of those activities to summer holidays. The result was a 10 days Electronic and Ham Radio Camp. 20+ years of experiences at organizing children’s camps and leading electronic groups had been put together. Combining  those two different worlds, an unique project was created. Pictures and video's are on this website.

Preparations started in October 2011 by establishing the core team: Zbynek OK2PIN – the camp leader and technical instructors: Petr OK2AIA and Robin OK2UWQ. The initial task was to create attractive and realistic concept of the camp.

The core activities have been focused on ham radio and building electronic equipment. We wanted to offer more than sitting and soldering and again sitting and operating amateur radio. That’s why we selected a tent camp site next to a forest where participants found various challenges to develop themselves not only in electronics but also at camping abilities and games and competition in the camp and nearby forest, finding new friends and building team spirit. Simply, complex, various and interesting program for 10 – 16 year old children.

The financial calculation showed that the most convenient was to find 40 children. This was enough for financing and still not too big for personal approach, keeping the camp small and friendly. Participants fee was 125 EUR all included: accommodation, meals five times a day, full day trips, all entry fees, complete technical stuff – PCB, components, prizes and awards. There was no need for any grants or funding. It was great to be free, independent on external financing, donations, etc!

The most critical task was to find 40 participants, children from 10 to 16 years. We have identified 3 major groups which could be most interested:

  1. Ham radio operator\'s children and grandchildren. We used email discussion groups, electronic and paper magazines as well as radioclub's website.
  2. Electronic free time hobby groups. Direct phone/personal contacts with leaders of the groups. We also advertised at the electronic competitions.
  3. Employees of electronic industry companies. They understand the future potential of this industry and may lead their children this way. The advertisements were published in the internal company's magazines.

We found great support from all three groups getting advertisement free of charge and received high number of application forms. We only could accept first 40 applicants due to our concept and unfortunately rejected the others. Rejected applicants directly asked to be accepted for next year.

We were only focused on the three geographically closest countries: OK, OM and OE. Information emails were sent to their national amateur organizations asking for list of youth groups which we could contact. The best feedback was received from OK. OM seemed to be slow in response but finally we got few Slovak participants. No interest was identified from OE, however the camp is located only 15 km from OK-OE border.

We also had to build the staff team and cover all positions: technical instructors, group leaders, cooks, health care, finance controller and support team. All members had to be volunteers keen on dedicating 10 days to children bringing enthusiasm, experiences and effort. We have put together great team, almost everybody had previous experiences in youth organizations and other camps.

The camp started on 30th of July 2012 in a camp site located in the south part of the Czech Republic, near Znojmo. Some children travelled 300 km to the camp. Daily agenda was split into technical activities in the morning and sport activities in the afternoon and evening.

Children have been unbelievably enthusiastic to electronics and related stuff. They could select and build several equipments: 2-LED blinker, metal detector, AM receiver and 14 MHz transceiver.

Regarding ham radio, we participated in the 144 MHz Alpe Adria / QRP contest establishing 4 teams, 10 children in each. As a preparation, we held an internal PMR 446 MHz contest in the camp where children were learning the VHF contesting procedure in Czech and English. Children also participated 3,7 MHz SSB liga – national OK contest. ARDF was a part of activities in the forest.

We did several trips by bus and train. We visited Nuclear power plant Dukovany, Water power station Dalešice, relaxed in Aquapark and visited town of Znojmo.

I would also like to highlight support of many people who spontaneously provided various stuff (components, PCBs, prizes, awards) and advertisement free of charge which made this camp easier.

Those 10 days have been full of activities, introducing and attracting children to electronics and ham radio. As a side effect, two 16 years boys are keen on getting ham radio license in autumn. Very positive feedback was received from participants and their parents after the camp. Most of them want to take a part next year too.

We are looking forward to the Electronic and Ham Radio Camp 2013!