FIRST Robotics

Honestly, this post has been a long time coming. I’ve been involved with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) since I was in 4th grade almost nine years ago, and I can honestly say that my life has changed for the better. I was part of my district’s first ever robotics team, competing at our first events, and winning our first awards. That experience was absolutely amazing, and now, working on an FRC team with robots and coding that 4th-grade me could only begin to imagine is even better.

So much of what I know today about computers, engineering, physics, and science in general comes through my exposure to FIRST. I’ve learned to work well with other people and how to use Git. Most importantly, however, I’ve learned how to properly deal with people above me making strange or irrational decisions. All of this has helped me strike out on my own.

FIRST has also cemented my love of public and community service. Most of my volunteer hours from last year came from FIRST events. I’ve served mostly as a scorekeeper, but I’ve also pitched in as an unofficial A/V guy when needed. One event last year had me running the playoff matches from my phone’s hotspot. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. Working with these kids, seeing their projects and dedication, it really inspires me to do better as a person.

My ideal college major has shifted a lot over the last few years. At first, I was sure that I was going to be a genius computer scientist, solving all the problems in the world. Then reality sunk in, and I changed to IT services. Competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition, however has convinced me that what I really love is building and coding robots. That’s what I want to do in life, and that’s what I’m going to college for.

I can highly recommend FIRST as a meaningful and fun thing for any young person to do. Whether you’re a third grader or a senior, there’s a program for you.

New Site

Well now. Here we are again. This must be what, the fourth fresh site I’ve started? They’ve all eventually gone to the mists of time. For a time I was using Postleaf on my Raspberry Pi as a blog, but that didn’t go well. I’ll probably move over my post about the World Scout Jamboree to this site as well, so that post may appear before this one chronologically.

The goal for this incarnation is long-term stability. I don’t want to have to reinstall another CMS in a few months. That just gets weird. I also don’t want to have to hand code my site, that’s not my cup of tea. I build desktop applications and games, not websites.

A little bit about me: As of writing I’m a Life Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. I’m very close to earning my Eagle, with only Hiking, Personal Fitness, and Family Life to go. I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of public service, and I try and provide as much as I can, through my skills with amateur radio and coordinating events for local organizations. I currently work as a student lighting designer and sound technician at my school for outside shows and events. I play the euphonium in the school concert band. In my spare time I write roguelikes and Discord bots.

World Scout Jamboree

This July, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Boy Scouts of America’s WSJ19 contingent. For two weeks, I camped out with 50,000 other scouts, scouters, and staff from more than 160 countries. It was a wonderful experience, and I thought I’d kick off the new blog by writing about it. I don’t have many pictures, which will hopefully not set a trend for the rest of the travel posts here.

The Arrival

The trip started off with a 14 hour bus ride from the Warwick, RI Scout Shop at 5 AM, to the Ruby Welcome Center in Glen Jean, WV. The ride was not memorable, I mostly watched YouTube and Netflix. I managed to catch some shut-eye after lunch, which tided me over from Maryland into West Virginia. We got into the Summit at around 6:30 in the afternoon, with plenty of time to set up my tent and figure out where we were I was in campsite C101, which was fairly close to everything except Basecamps A and B.

The next day, the US contingent was supposed to serve as “ambassadors” to the incoming international troops. My troop helped all those incoming units get their rain flies set up, organize their tents, and otherwise get settled in. It rained a bit, which is why we prioritized the rain flies. At the end of the day, at least three staff members came down to personally thank our troop for our help that day.

Program

Tuesday, the 22nd. Program opened for the first time that day, and I made a beeline for the Scott Summit Center, which is where most of the trading happened. On that day, I didn’t end up trading anything, but I did meet some people. The next day, the 23rd, I hit the trading post. A JOTA/JOTI (Jamboree on the Air/Jamboree on the Internet) neckerchief was about $16, so I got one of those and two IST Council Shoulder Patches.

Skipping ahead to Saturday, the 27th, I went zip lining for the first time in my life, which was amazing. I was a bit scared at first, I’ve never been very fond of heights,  but it was all very safe and the staff were well trained. That same day, I watched a weather balloon launch from the NA1WJ tent, which is currently tracking just outside of Morocco. That event, along with near-daily visits to the NA1WJ event, is what’s motivating me to advance from my Technician class to a General class amateur license.

Tuesday, July 30th. Whitewater rafting day. It started off as a nice day, my group got through some class 5 rapids on the New River, (beautiful place by the way,) and I almost fell off the boat. About 15 minutes after leaving the boats and getting on the bus back to the Summit, it started to rain. Soon after I left the bus, standing right next to the Basecamp D Tower, where did lightning strike? That’s right, the Basecamp D Tower. The torrential rain kept up for about half an hour before clearing up to be a nice sunny day.

On Wednesday, the final Basecamp Bash in C was cut short by three separate Lightning Alerts. We were all rushed under the pavilion and held there for at least an hour and a half. We eventually got back to the site at around 11 PM, only to find that lightning had struck a tree about 200 feet from my site. Nothing caught fire, but it was still alarming.

Thursday, the closing show. Hoo boy, if I had known what $12m worth of equipment could do for a show. There was so much going on and two talented acts. Special appearances included Pentatonix and Light Balance, which won the Golden Buzzer on AGT Season 12. It culminated in a 30 minute long laser/pyrotechnic show, the first time I’ve ever seen a group of people rave to the “Tetris” theme.

Conclusion

The World Scout Jamboree is something I’ll remember for years to come. It was two weeks of fun and international bonding, even through the long thunderstorms and oppressive heat. The Jamboree emphasized what needs to be done in order to truly improve our world. That’s why Scouting is important. That’s why I believe that World Scouting is crucial to the long term survival of our species and our planet. I’ll update this post with pictures of the patches and neckerchiefs I got soon.