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
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
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."