Summer Camp’s in my blood. I started working at our local Boy Scout Camp at 14 Years old and spent the next 8 summers working on Camp Staff. I worked as a Counselor, on the Ranger’s Staff, in the Dining Hall, and just about every other job except as the Camp Director. I know you, your passion for Kids and Camp, and the disdain you have when you think about buying more two way radios. I hope this article will provide a little insight about the different classes of two way radios available to you along with some pros and cons.
Two way radio manufacturers and the FCC have put two way radios into different classes, FRS, Business Commercial, and Professional. While pricing increases with each classification, the radios aren’t necessarily any better. Yes, there are more features, and perhaps more durability, but a walkie talkie is just a walkie talkie. Buying more two way radio than you need doesn’t mean you’ll have a better experience using walkie talkies. Here’s what you need to look for.
Wattage. A typical summer camp is at a minimum on a campus and often over hundreds of acres in the woods. Hand held two way radios come in watts ranging from 1 to 5 watts. The more wattage, the more range but going from 1 to watts will not double your range. Each increase in wattage typically brings 20% more range. The biggest thing you can do to increase your range is to invest in affordable digital two way radios.
UHF or VHF. I always recommend UHF because UHF does a better job of penetrating buildings and trees.
FRS, Business, Commercial, or Professional. No summer camp should use a Professional Two Way Radio unless they were given to you for free. Nor do we suggest you use FRS two way radios. You’ll find the batteries and the audio quality leave something to be desired. There are affordable business and commercial two way radios at a number of price points. They’ll give you the best value for your buck.
Waterproof or Not? The only Staffers who need waterproof two way radios are those who are jumping into the lake. So long as the radio you are looking has IP54 or above durability ratings, your walkie talkies will be durable enough to handle any rainstorm that comes your way.
Compatibility. Don’t buy something that obsoletes your existing two way radios. The more walkie talkies you have in Camp, the safer your camp. Most manufacturers make two way radios which are backwards compatible with other two way radios. It is important to note that UHF two way radios will not work with VHF two way radios.
Budget. Two way radios range in price from $20 a pair to $2,000 each. The vast majority of Camps can use a 5 Watt Radio with plenty of channels and plenty of battery life in this price range.