The 74 delegates to the Youngsters of the Air (YOTA) South Africa 2018 gathering held in early August in South Africa enjoyed what one participant called “a mind-blowing experience.” As the event drew to a close, the event’s patron, Gary Immelman, ZS6YI, reminded the participants that they are Amateur Radio’s future leaders and urged them to become leaders in their respective organizations at home. Campers at YOTA South Africa 2018, which was sponsored by the South African Radio League (SARL), represented 23 countries in Europe and Africa, and the US.
“By virtue of the fact that you were prepared to come all this way to South Africa and to so enthusiastically participate in this year’s YOTA tells me that you are a very dedicated and motivated group of young people,” Immelman said. “The enthusiasm and vigor in which you participated in the various activities gives me comfort that the future of Amateur Radio is indeed very bright.”
Thirteen-year-old Faith Hannah Lea, AE4FH, of Palm Coast, Florida, was the sole International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (IARU R2) representative at the YOTA gathering. Licensed at age 10 and now holding an Amateur Extra-class license, Faith Hannah is very active on the airwaves and in promoting Amateur Radio via YouTube and elsewhere. Her dad, James Lea, WX4TV, accompanied his daughter to YOTA South Africa 2018.
“Train the trainer” was an overarching theme of YOTA South Africa 2018. At several sessions during the weeklong gathering, teams presented ideas on how to leverage their camp experience to help attract other young people to Amateur Radio in their home countries.
The young radio amateurs built QRP Labs transceiver kits and kept special event station ZS9YOTA active on SSB, CW, and FT8.
Some 20 young camp participants made their first satellite contacts. The group had launched a balloon carrying Amateur Radio (BACAR) — a high-altitude balloon with radio equipment on board to explore near space. While waiting for the data to return, the YOTA group operated from grid KG43 on multiple satellites, including SO-50, AO-91, and AO-92.
A summertime gathering in the past, YOTA South Africa 2018 took place during winter in the Southern Hemisphere in South Africa’s Gauteng region.
Immelman said the intent of YOTA South Africa 2018 was to expose participants to relatively “high-intensity Amateur Radio fun” within a diverse environment. “I believe you have all got a taste of what could be done in our hobby and especially what can be built upon to make YOTA of the future an ever-changing and even better experience than the last,” he added.
Immelman thanked SARL President Nico van Rensburg, ZS6QL; SARL Youth Coordinator Koos Fick, ZR6KF, and IARU Youth Working Group Chair Lisa Leenders, PA2LS, for their roles in bringing the event to South Africa. So far, no one has applied to host the 2019 YOTA event. — Thanks to SARL. Some information from AMSAT News Service.
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