Boy Scout Camp Communications

I am the Ranger for a Scout camp that is located in the middle of Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana and am looking for some guidance.

I need a reliable communications tool for our property that spans 640 acres of heavily wooded forest with lots of hills and valleys. The main camp only encompasses 200 acres or so which is my main concern for solid communications. I am looking for 8 to 12 radios for our program areas to use during the summer months and I will be using 2 to 3 radios all year long.

The radios will be turned in every night to our office for charging and a solid 8 to 10 hours of battery life would be needed during the day. A multi unit charging station would be nice. Also need to think about durability and resistance to wet conditions. Probably only need 3 or 4 channels as well…

Lastly, are there any programs that assist organizations such as Boy Scouts to purchase at a discounted rate - we need all the support we can get :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance!

Basically, there is probably no ‘cheap’ way, not in hilly terrain.

If you want to have any chance of coverage ‘on the other side of a hill’, you need a repeater on top of that hill.

That eliminates ALL ‘inexpensive’ radios, and almost certainly forces you to get a business radio license, which is somewhat complex, requires coordination, and isn’t cheap.

GMRS or MURS radios are line of sight. 1/2-2 miles, but if there’s a hill in between, forget it.

Right now, you could go GMRS, and have a GMRS repeater, as long as every single user gets the $85/5 years license (no group licensing), but the FCC is in the process of removing (it appears) repeater use from GMRS, and limiting portable GMRS radios to 2 watts.

You can almost certainly cover the main camp with GMRS handhelds, of which there are many. Just don’t believe any of the marketing lies about ‘range’. At this time, again, every user would have to pay for their own individual license, unless you use only the half watt FRS channels also found in FRS/GMRS radios, which require no license. For the main camp area, they would probably be just fine. I assume Boy Scouts wouldn’t want to be breaking Federal Law by operating unlicensed. <grin>

As a Scouter and a licensed ham, I immediately started thinking of ways to set up transmitters, license scouts in each troop, etc. to solve this problem. Then, I thought outside the box. Probably lots of cellphone companies would love to have coverage in that area, especially with a hill. Is there a spot they could put in a tower, or place transceivers on an existing structure? With the Scouts new rules on portable electronic advice (cell phones were encouraged at Jamboree) you’d have plenty of devices. Plus, cell companies would pay the council rent to place the transceivers.

Just came across this -

Apparently BSA holds the frequency 151.625 for nationwide use by Scout groups.

Just a thought… If the “camp” applies for the GMRS license, then all radios that work for (i.e. owned by) and within the camp should be covered by the license… at least that’s the way I read the rules.

As an aside… A “base” unit with an external antenna mounted above a building (max height 20 feet???) could be used as a central point to make calls to. For example; I use a “loaded” antenna on my scooter. Using that type of “loaded” antenna on a peak of a building would help get more mileage out of the FRS/GMRS radio system installed at the camp…

As was said before, getting 100% reliable communications may be suspect with this type of service tho…

just thinking out loud…

No. Organizations cannot get GMRS licenses. EACH person wanting to use a radio, must get an individual license.

In the past, it was allowed, but not any more.

In this situation, the best radio to use would be the Motorola RDV5100 or another similar VHF radio. VHF does great outdoors and this radio can be programmed to the licensed BSA frequency so you don’t have to go through the licensing yourself. You can also have a couple MURS frequencies programmed into the RDV5100 at low power to add some “spare” channels when you need to carry on more than one conversation.

You will need to have them programmed by a Motorola dealer for your specific requests.

RDV5100: 10 Channels, 5 Watts Max