This week we finally announced the Boy Scouts of America Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip. We had approval for the strip in October. However, we’d been working on the final patch design. Then the holidays struck, delaying us still more. Even so, it’s great to finally announce the strip and see the interest that has been generated. The details are posted on the K2BSA website. That particular page saw a huge jump in traffic the day of the announcement. Likewise, the K2BSA Facebook Page posts generated a great deal of traffic and, as a result, built up the number of “likes” on the page.
The patch itself culminates a fair bit of work by the National Radio Scouting Committee working with the BSA Awards & Insignia Committee. Our initial contact was, for the most part, trying to implement something very similar to the final operator rating strip. Instead, we first came away with the Morse Code Interpreter Strip — which has been very popular — and generated a great deal of interest in and of itself. (It is currently the second highest selling interpreter strip, with 1200 sold after the first eight months.) Then we began further discussions around the rating strip, modeling it after the personal interest badges that were available to Senior Scouts and Explorer Scouts in the 1940s. It also follows similar badges recently created by Scouts Australia and Scouting Netherlands.
Some of the early comments are that it will provide one more goal for Scouts along the amateur radio continuum. The first step is the Radio Merit Badge. With that foundation, the second step will be preparing for and passing the Technician license. Once that’s in hand, you can add the Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip to your uniform. I sure hope it helps drive further interest in amateur radio within Scouting.
Yet another fun ham radio adventure. Let me know what you think.