For several years now, Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) has sponsored YOTA Month each December, primarily involving young radio amateurs in Europe and Africa. In December, youth-operated amateur radio stations in the Americas picked up the ball to contribute more than 12,000 contacts to the worldwide event. Eighteen operators aged 25 or younger deployed special event 1 × 1 call signs — K8Y, K8O, K8T, and K8A — to promote youth in amateur radio. Fifteen young operators across the US took turns using these call signs throughout December. They logged 10,474 contacts using those call signs on SSB, CW, digital modes, and satellites. Some operators also aired the call signs during contests. Participants in the Americas offered opinions on what made the event special for them.
“Operating-wise, it was definitely the pileups…I love a good pileup,” said Mason Matrazzo, KM4SII. “Apart from that, it was great getting to be part of a group of youngsters that are all into the hobby. Even though we weren’t physically working together, we all got to be part of the YOTA program over the air.”
Audrey McElroy, KM4BUN, also cited the on-air camaraderie. “My favorite part of YOTA month was getting the wonderful experience of talking to other youth all over the world and sharing our experiences,” she said. “It gives us hope to know the future of Amateur Radio is in the hands of these great kids.” Her brother Jack, KM4ZIA, also took part.
In Canada, David Samu, VE7DZO, signed VE7YOTA in December, making 458 contacts on CW. “My favorite part was seeing all the YOTA stations on the air throughout December and seeing all the high energy youth activity,” he said.
Mathias Acevedo, CE2LR, activated XR2YOTA, and met another young operator from Chile, Manu Pardo, CA3MPR, through YOTA month. Between them, they put 1,535 contacts into the log on CW, SSB, and digital modes.
Bryant Rascoll, KG5HVO, coordinated the efforts of the 17 participants and the logs for the US stations. “I learned much during the month about the importance of teamwork and communication…just like baseball,” Bryant said about his role as coordinator. “I think YOTA month was a great success considering the short amount of time we had to plan this all out. I had a lot of fun operating this event, but it was even more rewarding to see other youth here in the Americas make tons of QSOs during December.” Bryant managed Logbook of The World accounts for the US stations and QRZ.com pages for all call signs, maintained an operator schedule, worked with YOTA Month Award Manager Tomi Varro, HA8RT, and reported in to the YOTA Camp Committee in the Americas.
Globally, nearly 129,000 contacts were logged using 48 call signs, all operated by hams under the age of 25 or younger. More than 2,500 operators of all ages requested and received awards based on the number of YOTA contacts they had made. Statistics are available.
The first Youth On The Air camp in the US will take place next June 21 – 26 at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township, Ohio.