Earth Day 8th Richmond Hill Scouts Trail Clean-up

Yes, we are taking that garbage from you.

To mark Earth Day 2022, our 8th Richmond Hill Scouts and Venturers did a garbage cleanup on the trail crossing Devonsleigh Blvd, from Yorkland Street to Harrington Park.

Safety first! We loaded them up with gloves and garbage bags. They used the radios they learned to use last week to stay in touch with the leaders and each other.

Masks only removed for the time it took to take the picture. They held their breath.

The pickings were good – 8 bags full in no time at all. Bird feeders, old soccer balls, painting sheets, the usual pop cans and other junk.

After some hand sanitizing, we got down to the fun part – hot chocolate, hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire.

Got set up and started the hot chocolate just before dark
Hot dogs and marshmallows!
Leaders joined in too. One Scout looks really well fed. Growth spurt? He wasn’t that long in the fall.
Mmmm… picking off the perfectly browned marshmallow skin.
… and sometimes they catch fire.
…still eating…
They must have changed the ingredients

We took a break from the Scouts stuffing themselves to test and see if WinterGreen LifeSavers really do generate sparks when you crunch them. Test failed. We’ll do more research to see what went wrong.

A big thank you to Scouter Muriel for welcoming the Scouts in her back yard for the cook-out, and for an awesome tray of cup cakes. And for supplying mugs to the dopey leaders who forgot to bring theirs.

We hope we don’t have to come back for a clean-up of marshmallow bits and cup cake crumbs from her lawn.

Rock climbing with the Scouts

On December 8 we did our first indoor activity in a long, long time.

Our Scouts’ and Venturers’ behaviour during COVID has been exemplary, with great mask discipline and everyone vaccinated. With protocols being followed, we went for a rock climbing session.

Youth and leaders challenged themselves with great instruction and tips from the Rock and Chalk staff, starting from basic fall-and-roll on the bouldering wall to solo climbing with the auto-belayers.

A great evening, great challenges and a great workout after so much isolation!

Venturer/Rover Event Completely Axed

Not a reunion of The Band

An unidentified group of masked Venturers and Rovers allegedly met at an undisclosed location last night for what might have been an axe throwing event.

Target was presumably made by an assumed Rover.

Only thing for sure is that it was socially distanced, wonderful weather and clouds cleared for the stars to come out.

Darker out than it looks in the pictures. The latest camera phones are pretty amazing at low-light shots.

Before and after finger counts might have been identical.

Big thanks to <name omitted to protect the guilty> for building the target on short notice. Version 2 might already be in planning.

Congratulations new TechVent hams

On the weekend of Nov 30, 2019, we finally ran this year’s final HAM CRAM certification weekend, with 2 Venturers and 4 leaders surviving the weeknight meetings and making it to the final mad dash to the finish line.

We took over ylab’s maker space at the City of Richmond Hill’s David Dunlap Observatory for the entire weekend from Friday at 7 PM to Sunday at 7 PM. They only went home to sleep and maybe scream in agony.

Participants ingested a massive amount of study material, lame jokes, stories, junk food, sugary snacks and soft drinks. Laps were run around the building to fight off the dozies. Horrible weather on Sunday didn’t stop us.

Industry Canada Certified Radio Examiner John plowed his way over through the storm on Sunday afternoon to administer the final tests. John is a great friend of 8th Richmond Hill Venturers and Scouts, helping out every year to run the JOTA and any other time we ask him. He even went through a PRC.

John, Instructor RJ, Zack, Mark, Rishi, Sandy and Chris

We are proud to announce that all participants in the final ham cram passed the final test. Please join us in congratulating all six newly licensed amateur radio operators – Venturers Rishi and Zack and leaders Mark and Sandi from 8th Richmond Hill, John from 1st Markham MedVents, and Chris from wherever he hangs his hat. They are all licensed for life. They never have to go through this misery again.

To keep up with what is now our tradition, we celebrated on Wednesday December 4 with the other ham cram – in this case, cramming down a 10 lb ham.

New and existing TechVent ham license holders get to help cram down the ham.

Special thank-yous to examiner John for all the help and cool freebies he donated to the participants; and to ylab and the City of Richmond Hill for allowing us into such an amazing building for our work with the Venturers.

Blacksmith day. TechVent Style.

Now armed and usually only dangerous to themselves. No Venturers or Rovers were harmed in this event. Really.,

There’s a visit to a blacksmith shop, then there’s a TechVent blacksmithing day: 4 Venturers, 3 Rovers, 5 forges and 6 anvils.

We were hosted at Dave Brandow’s FireSword Forge in Guelph, assisted by blacksmith Miro Forest, with three additional forges from Miro and Scouter Stephen.

Blacksmith Dave showing how to heat treat a knife
Grinding and sharpening the blade.
Making a point. By hammering away at it.
Heating the metal in the forge. Blacksmith Dave is paying attention – to the other forge.
Waiting for grinding and sharpening.
Blacksmith Miro helping with twisting the knife handle.
Testing the finished product
Each youth made a coat hook, a knife and a chisel.

Big thank yous to blacksmiths Dave and Miro for their time, guidance and patience; and to Miro for hauling in two extra forges.

A special thank you to North Steel of Minden Ontario for their generous donation of the steel for the day.

Genuine Rovers. Not actors. But please give us our own TV show. We even have matching clothes and gloves!
See? We can even bring our dad on the show as a cranky old guest for arguments. Going at it hammer and tongs. Or tong and tong.

Oops – post corrected Oct 7 2019. We mis-identified a Rover as a Venturer. Maybe we need to label them.

TechVents Again Handling Comms Desk at Anime North 2019

In what’s become a tradition, our TechVents who’ve achieved their amateur radio certification get to volunteer at Anime North, handling the communications desk to relay and co-ordinate radio communications between the Medical, Operations and Security groups. This year it was held on the May 26 2019 weekend.

We’ve been doing this on-and-off since 2016. It’s privilege and a lot of fun to work such a big event – this year with over 30,000 attendees.

Great work by Venturers Adam, Andrew, Ethan and Jonathan.

2018 Blue Springs Scout Reserve Rube Goldberg Contest Results Are In!

And the winner is… 8th Richmond Hill TechVents!

We wrapped up our contest submission by the deadline of Dec 31 2018, and it took until now to announce the winners and receive the victory plaque.

Just some of the team… Max, Owen, Andrew, Jonathan, Maitland and Jason.

Congratulations to the whole team for phenomenal work with extra brownie points to Adam for the awesome video editing.

And just in case you missed it… the video is here.


An ambitious goal we announced at the start of the TechVent program is to get the youth their amateur radio certification to allow them to participate in emergency preparedness events.

We are pleased to announce that 8 Venturers and 2 Advisors completed their ham radio certification this weekend. There was some advance study, but most -and for some people, all – of the material was covered in our accelerated, condensed class that went Friday evening, all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday . At 4 PM Sunday, we stopped the training and did the exam.  We henceforth will refer to this program as the HAM CRAM. This is not to be mistaken with the normal Venturer ham cram, which involves ingesting large amounts of pork butt. Perhaps that should be the celebratory dinner.

We’ve spent the last 18 months trying different training methods, using the Venturers as human guinea pigs. Some things worked. Many interesting things were fun, but really didn’t advance the hard study required. The Venturers stuck with the program and worked it through, studying the material, and in the spirit of the Scouts Canada’s Canadian Path program, provided lots of feedback and suggestions.

Congratulations to new hams Andrew, Davis, Jonathan, Kristen, Maitland, Max, Owen, and Steve.

A huge thank you to:

  •  Industry Canada certifified amateur radio examiner  John VE3IPS from the York Region Amateur Radio Club for coming in to run the certification tests
  • John VE3IPS, Geoff VA3GS and the other YRARC members who’ve helped us with hands-on radio nights and our JOTA event
  • YRARC member Ion VA3NOI for the donation of the HF transceiver and antenna tuner.
  • The ylab maker space for providing so much equipment, this web site, the HAM CRAM materials (they developed it) and all the other  tech activities on this site. They’ve made it all freely available to anyone who wants to use it.
  • The 8th Richmond Hill Scouts Venturer advisors and group leadership. This has been a team effort from the beginning.

YRARC HAM Radio/JOTA at YHW Skills Training Camp


For one day, the world revolves around Woodland Trails.

With the help of the York Region Amateur Radio Club (YRARC) volunteers, Woodland Trails became York Headwaters’ JOTA HQ during our fall Scouts Skills Training Camp.

(Learn how to make your own Azimuthal  map centered around your location here)

Since this is the 60th Anniversary of the first YHW JOTA and the first time in… heck, even Scouter Jim D. doesn’t remember how long… that YHW held a JOTA event, we went all out with a full radio activity rotation to go along with the knifing, axing, flaming and other activities.

YRARC brought out their Emergency Communications Trailer – fully self contained with backup generator, repeater and telescoping antenna. .

Scouts learned about Morse code, phonetic alphabet, and basic 2-way radio protocol.



We had two additional ham rigs. Scouts  communicated with other Scout groups and ham operators as far away as Germany and Arizona. Big highlight was hearing the Governor of Bermuda – who is also the Chief Scout of Bermuda and participating in their JOTA.

P_20171021_110945_vHDR_Auto (Small)We ran the radios on car batteries, but they didn’t last too long. Scouts were prepared, and we appreciate the loan of the generator.




Big thank you to: YRARC members Geoff/VA3GS and John/VE3IPS for organizing, bringing out so much gear, and sticking with us for the whole day, Steve/VE3UT for helping out and taking all these great pictures, and David/VA3DCY for trailer towing duties; all the Scout leaders who volunteered their time and equipment for all the other activities and great meals. All were rewarded with nothing but a lot of Scout smiles and enthusiasm… and a Scouts Canada JOTA/JOTI 2017 badge.

What will we do for JOTA/JOTI 2018? Dunno yet, but YRARC is offering to help out again.


Ready for 2017 JOTA/JOTI? Have your map ready?

2017 JOTA/JOTI is coming up fast. You want to try and reach some friends in other locations. Where do you point your radio antenna?

Check out our new entry on how to generate an azimuthal map for your location, then use a compass to find the direction of any place on earth.

Here’s the map we generated for our York Headwaters JOTA/JOTI event.

Map generated by