• Dick Leineke and Phil Rifice listen and wait with Cub Scouts Landon Koch, Braidon Koch and Luke Harbin (from left) for Jamboree on the Air participants to answer. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR

SCOUTING AROUND: Murphy Scouts connect with world at Jamboree

    Murphy Boy Scout Troop 400 and Cub Scout Pack 400 met at Konehete Park on Friday afternoon for Jamboree on the Air, a worldwide weekend-long event that gives children in all forms of Scouting the opportunity to connect via amateur radio.
    To help the local Cubs and Scouts, ham radio operators Phil Rifice, Dick Leineke, Kevin Heyboer and Charlie Earl brought their equipment and taught the boys about the equipment, even coaching them with what to say.
    “CQ, CQ, CQ – that means calling all stations,” Leineke said to a group of Cubs. As they stayed quiet and listened, he explained they next had to see if anyone calls back. “That’s how amateur radio works.”
    Ken Koch, the Murphy Cubmaster, said learning about amateur radio is important for his Cubs and the older Scouts to learn because it is vital for communication, especially in natural disasters, like flooding in the eastern part of the state.
    “A lot of these people have made their hobby a communication effort,” he said.
    However, that wasn’t the only reason the event was important.
    “It was important to me because it was something we’ve never, ever done, and, No. 2, because we can talk to Scouts all over the world,” Koch said.
    “We’re opening up the world to them.”
    While other kids in scouting around the world weren’t as active as early on the first day of the event, the local boys were impressed with the connections they made, finding ham operators across the world in Belgium and England.
    The Scouts had a requirement to hold a conversation with someone over the radio for 10 minutes. Skyler Watson got to talk with someone in Indiana, while Joseph West got to talk with someone in Ohio.
    “I was thinking of doing this when I get older,” West said. “It was a lot better than I thought it would be.”
    He said in his conversation, they talked about the weather, school and what they were doing at the Jamboree.
    Brian Brooks, another Scout, said one of the most interesting things he learned was what a “raspberry pie” is – a really small computer that helps connect radios, repeaters and computers with each other.
    Besides the radio communications, the boys had other learning activities available, like a first-aid station, weather station, tent-building station, and even a station where they learned about compasses and how to make their own.
    “You can see a lot of smiles,” Koch said. “There are a lot of smiles out here today.”

New focus for new owners
    Appalachian Outfitters in Murphy hosted a Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce After Hours event Thursday night, when the old owners returned to the store to formally introduce more than 20 members of the business community to the new owners.
    Kathryn and Ron Jenkins sold the store in June to Justin Mickens and Bobby Hand. Many customers already knew the duo, as Mickens was the store’s manager and Hand was the store’s fishing guide before attaining their new roles. The Jenkinses owned Appalachian Outfitters for 10 years.
    “We were just ready to pass it on to somebody with renewed energy for the business,” Mrs. Jenkins said.
    As soon as they became owners, Hand said they gave the store a small makeover, placing a greater focus on what they know best – fly fishing, fly tying and paddle sports.
    “We purchased Appalachian Outfitters because fly fishing is our passion,” Mickens said. “We try our best to pass our knowledge to others, hoping they can do better. We truly enjoy customers coming back and telling us about the great time they had on the water.
    “It’s a very rewarding experience.”
    Mickens started as the manager in 2012. He said his love of fly fishing drew him to Appalachian Outfitters to look for a job when he moved back here from New Mexico.
    Hand has been a fisherman all his life, but got into fly fishing about 10 years ago. He was named head fishing guide for the store when they created the position in 2012.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.