Operation On-Target see Heliograph is a high adventure activity mainly for Varsity Scouts, but also including Venturers and older Boy Scouts. The event is mainly held in the western United States, but has included Hawaii and New York. The basic idea is to have Scouts scattered across a particular area, located on mountain peaks or other prominent points within line of sight of each other. Using large signaling mirrors, they relay messages from peak to peak. Many units spend time in the weeks or months before the actual event learning communications skills like ham radio and signaling. Reaching the peak can also be a challenge, requiring the boys to practice hiking, camping, and backpacking skills. They also need to consider what they will do if the clouds block the sun.
Two main goals are to establish a signal link from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, and to make a link from the Pacific Ocean to at least the continental divide. The event has been annual since 1981. As many as 5,000 scouts have participated in a single year, with participation from Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington, from Puget Sound in Washington to Catalina Island and San Diego in California.
The annual event is held on the third Saturday in July and September. Areas with warmer climates typically see larger turnout on the latter date.
A manual for this event was developed by the Great Salt Lake Council, was later reprinted in one of the Varsity Scout Program Helps books, and now is a chapter in the Boy Scouts of America Varsity Team Features Volume II handbook. While even small handheld mirrors, 3" to 4" on a side, can be seen 30 miles away, teams are encouraged to take along at least one large mirror. The classic large Operation On-Target signal mirror is a modular design with four square feet of reflecting area, transported in backpacks and assembled on-site. It consists of four 12"x12" mirrors bolted to a square of plywood with wing bolts and mounted on a light tripod. A small aimable signal mirror is taped to one edge as a sight.
Other articles related to "operation":
... Operation On-Target events are now synonymous with Varsity Scouting ... activity that would later be adopted by Varsity Scouting and known as "Operation On Target" (to help Scouts "get on target with Varsity Scouting and on target in life)" ...
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