Select Page

Camp communications

Summer Camp

I was a Scout leader for a long time. I both assisted and ran many events. One thing that was always a challenge was communication. It often involved walking or driving up and down the camp looking for the person you needed to talk to. Cell phones often don’t work in the camps. Sometimes I solved this problem with Amateur radio operators (hams), but often it was difficult to get enough of them and people didn’t want to spend time studying for the test. Many groups tried to solve the problem with FRS radios, but the first hill or turn in the road often blocks them. Our camp at Lake Arrowhead has at least four areas that you can’t communicate between with a simplex radio. At the Firestone scout reservation, FRS radios will lose contact every time the road bends up the canyon.

One of the things we find at camps is that operation is either limited to where the communications work, or people just accept that communications won’t work in some places. A group out on a hike will be out of touch, which is fine until there is a problem. What if someone gets lost, or there is an injury? Often this problem has been addressed by sending a runner which takes time and puts another person at risk. Communications in transit are often not addressed. Where is the bus right now? Are they coming into the camp, or still on the highway? What if there is a question for the camp director when he went into town for something? Most camps have had to deal with evacuations for fires at some point and it is easy to lose track of people. It doesn’t have to be that way.

We have a solution to this. First, we have professional grade digital radios. While FRS radios are limited to 2 watts, our handheld radios are 5 watts. They are also digitally encoded, which will extend the range even further, even in simplex mode. While still limited by obstructions, these radios will reach further. For extended coverage, we have our NexEdge network. Once a radio is connected to the network, it can communicate with other radios in your group wherever they are on the network. This could be hundreds of miles, or around that inconvenient obstruction in the camp. This concept can be confusing to most people, so we made this entertaining video explaining the difference. We strongly recommend that you watch this as it will help you understand some of the different radios and issues that occur with radio coverage.

These radios are available for you to rent in either simplex mode or with full access to the network. Rental rates start at just $6 per day for simplex radios and $15 per day for network radios. There is also a weekly rate that starts from 4 days. Our rental networked radios may be the perfect solution for you! Our NexEdge network ensures extended coverage and with simplex communication, you’ll have direct access to other radios.

Features include:
– Coordination of events and staff communication. Send supplies to where they need to be, locate people, make announcements, and many more things.
– Exclusive channels – On the network, you get channels programmed only for your group. No cross talk with anyone else using cheap department store radios.
– “All Call” feature to send messages to all radios on the network. For multichannel setups, the all call will broadcast on all of the channels at once. This is useful for emergencies and announcements.
– Stay in touch while in transit to and from camp. Ever have a car in your group get separated on the road? Especially when that happens after you have already started into the mountains, you may not be able to contact them to find out if they are lost or having trouble.
– Communication in areas that cell phones don’t cover. Cell phone systems are designed to cover well-traveled areas a short distance from the site. Our system uses high-level repeater sites that cover broad areas, often from multiple angles. While there may still be coverage holes, our network often works when cell phones don’t.
– Assistance in planning event communications and checking camp radio coverage. Not sure how to put together communications for an event? Ask us. If you tell us where you will be and where you need to communicate, we can make a recommendation for you. For short distances, you may be able to use FRS radios, but it’s nice to know if the plan will work before you get to the site. With satellite maps, radio coverage simulations, and experience, we can help you avoid unexpected communication failure.
– Emergency use. We always hope there won’t be any emergencies, but they do happen. Whether it’s getting help for an injury or evacuating a camp, communications help.
– Communication from camp to home. Our coverage ranges from the Mexican border up to San Luis Obispo, encompassing the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast to the Arizona border, and up the Eastern Sierras to Bridgeport. If you have someone within our coverage area keeping track of your status to and from camp, you can communicate with them.

Here is our coverage map. Additionally coverage has recently been extended in to the Big Bear area.

MRA Digital Coverage

We can also design communications systems for difficult areas and large events. Contact us if you need help

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Your Name
Your Email
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x