PORTSMOUTH — Twelve-year-old Kyle Judy made a lot of long-distance calls over the weekend.
“I was talking to people from Illinois, I got a guy from Arkansas, one from Indiana. I got one from Jamaica,” said Kyle.
But the member of Boy Scout Troop 1 in Portsmouth wasn’t punished. In fact, he was rewarded with a merit badge.
Kyle was one of many troop members who participated in the 56th annual Jamboree on the Air at Glen Park, which ran from Friday evening to noon on Sunday.
“Boy Scouts all over the world get on high-frequency and ultra-high-frequency radios and talk to each other,” said Rick Norton, Troop 1 leader. “We’ve spent hours on the air and we’ve talked with people as far away as Jamaica and Germany and all across the United States.”
Troop members earned their radio merit badges through the Jamboree.
“We have guys who have not used radios before and now they’re aficionados and are thinking about getting their own certification,” said Mr. Norton, adding that about 14 members of Troop 1 camped out for the event. They were joined by other visiting Scouts including seven Webelos from Cub Scout Pack 77. “We had 30 to 40 people here at any one time.”
David Wordell, 17, was among the Boy Scouts who had never been on the air before. “I talked to someone from Little Compton, someone from Massachusetts and Georgia,” he said.
Mr. Norton said the troop was grateful for the support of the Newport County Radio Club, which helped out with the event. A member of the club, John King, is a ham radio operator who’s also the director of the Portsmouth Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
“The EMA was not technically involved,” said Mr. King. “But Portsmouth EMA certainly supports that endeavor because that’s the future emergency crew for communications.”
Troop 1 camps out once a month at various locations such as Camp Yagoog and the South County Road and Gun Club, where it recently took part in a popular survival camp.
“We’ve done ski trips up in Vermont, we’ve done bike trails on the Cape, a canoe trip on the Wood River – something new and exciting each month. Next month we’re looking at camping at Fort Adams,” said Mr. Norton. “There’s something for everybody.”
The Jamboree on the Air reminded the troop “that right here in Portsmouth we’ve got some great camping facilities. The Glen is a beautiful place. We’re leaving it cleaner than we found it, because that’s kind of what we do.”
While they were packing up Sunday, Mr. Norton shared a Troop 1 tradition: If someone misplaces a piece of their gear and it’s found by someone else, the person who lost it must recite and act out the “I’m a little teapot” routine. Mr. Norton said the rule keeps everyone — troop leaders in particular — on their toes.
“The troop lives for the day when someone like me forgets something,” he said. “We are incredibly careful about that.”