Boy Scout Councils With ATV Programs Double In 2013

January 2013 Powersport News

By Dave Halsey - NOHVCC Contributing Writer

The Boy Scouts hit an OHV home run with their new ATV program. This year, 19 Boy Scout Councils introduced ATV safety training and trail rides as an approved activity for their Scouts. For 2013, that number jumps to 40.

"More than 1,000 kids went through the program this year," said Pat Wellen, Director of Innovation and Research with the Boys Scouts of America (BSA). "We had high interest. The programs filled up. The camps that had them ran at capacity."

This was the first year BSA included ATV programs as an approved camp activity, following a 3-year pilot project. One of the country's premier youth leadership organizations, BSA applied the same due diligence it does for rock climbing, shooting firearms and other outdoor activities. BSA adopted the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) rider education curriculum as the official training course for leader/instructors and Scouts. It also applied state-by-state requirements for age of operator and other applicable laws. 

The ATV program has been handed off to the Outdoors Adventure Group, the BSA division that will operate it, including camp instructor schools where those in leadership roles are certified on training prior to implementing the programs. 

Before a Council can be approved to add an ATV program, it must first show interest and do some research, said Curt Palmer, Sr. Program Admin Specialist. "Do they have trails nearby? Can they establish trails?" he said. "There is also a financial commitment they have to make and fully disclose to their board, and provide a board resolution that they've approved the activity. They have to pay destination charges for the ATVs provided by manufacturers and they have to get the safety equipment."

Palmer is glad to report that some Councils have discovered that there are designated ATV trails in state or national forests near their Scout camps, allowing them to trailer vehicles to the public trails. "A lot of councils are doing that. That's really smart," he said. "They have worked it out. They know what the busy times are for that trail and avoid them. It's pretty cool. They're excited about it and the kids are having a good time."

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. provided 150 ATVs for the 2012 camping season through its Rider Training Loan Program. "The Councils can keep them three years, so some are doing ATV programs year-round now," said Palmer. "They can do training on a weeknight, before the kids come to camp. Then at a weekend camp they complete the training and actually ride that weekend. Advanced Councils are doing campouts, where kids get on an ATV and ride out to a remote camp site. They are being creative with it, that's what we're after."

In August, Polaris Industries donated ATVs and safety gear to the BSA's Northern Star Council's Tomahawk Scout Reservation, located in Birchwood, WI.

NOHVCC is currently assisting the K Bar M Scout Ranch near Lewiston, MT, helping them build an ATV trail. "We're willing to help the Boy Scouts and other organizations do it right," said Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Director. "We're  a good resource they can refer to when it comes to getting the process moving on building and maintaining OHV trails."

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