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BSA announces partnership with ATV manufacturer Polaris

All-terrain vehicles combine dirt and a motor — what’s a Scout or Venturer not to like?

Recognizing this winning mix, the BSA launched council-level ATV programs at camps across the country. And today, Polaris — a leading manufacturer of off-road vehicles — enters a 10-year partnership with the BSA, providing top-of-the-line ATVs, side-by-sides (SxS) and safety equipment to help deliver this exciting program to even more youth. PolarisSxS

Driving down a dirt trail doesn’t replace the rugged adventures of exploring on foot, but it does add diversity — not to mention horsepower! — to current activities available at BSA properties.

Now, with the help of Polaris, Scouts and Venturers age 14 and older will not only learn to drive the crème de la crème of ATV equipment, but they’ll also receive safety instruction vetted by a company with 60 years of industry expertise.

This new partnership arrives on the heels of a national pilot ATV program hosted at several Scout camps, including Northern Star Council’s Tomahawk Scout Reservation. Polaris donated ATVs and safety gear to the Wisconsin camp, which taught hundreds of Boy Scouts ATV safety, basic riding and maintenance skills.

Scott Wine, Polaris chairman and chief executive officer, says, “We are encouraged by the success of the pilot and look forward to expanding the course to a national level.” The instructional course will involve safety lessons that will focus on responsible riding, as well as a respect for the environment.

What’s that mean for your Scouts or Venturers?

If your troop or crew wants to get started, check with your council to see if they offer the ATV program. With the added boost from the new partnership with Polaris, this popular activity could be headed to a local camp near you soon.

Above: The Phoenix 200 will be one of several easy-to-use ATVs at participating BSA councils, as well as the Sportsman 570 (right). Images courtesy of Polaris.

38 Comments on BSA announces partnership with ATV manufacturer Polaris

  1. So is Polaris providing gear and vehicles for camps? Or is this just another marketing pitch?

  2. Not exactly “Leave No Trace”. I am not a fan of these, but I suppose scouts are…

  3. I can’t believe it. Perpetuating the myth that all-things-powered-byfossil-fuels will continue unfettered is contraindicated now, when we need to start weening ourselves off non-essential combustion of carbon-based fuels. This BSA-Polaris partnership does not seem to encourage or reinforce young boys’ being “stewards” but rather users and consumers of noisy and polluting machinery in the off-road environment.

    I trust the next good news will be that an earth-friendly modification to the BSA program involving this vehicle. The program also smacks of giving young boys a “taste” of a powerful elixir which Polaris knows will create dreams of bigger toys as the boys grow, decide priorities, and make their dreams happen — won’t they be surprised when this dream bubble has burst.

    I may be showing my age by saying I received my Eagle rank in 1962, but I believe I have 20/20 vision on this.

    Sign me “Gray Eagle 350″

  4. There was no mention of the Tread Lightly training program in this announcement?

  5. So we can’t build pioneering structures taller than 5 feet like real scouts, or shoot anything larger than “the opening of a small juice can” out of a catapult because a Scout might die of fun, but we can zip around the woods on ATVs? Got it.

    • Sorry, Bryan, I know you’re just the messenger.

  6. Gary Wilson // March 27, 2014 at 11:10 am // Reply

    Let’s make sure that these ATV’s will be in compliance with BSA’s Leave No Trace Guidelines on sound pollution and have mufflers to keep them as quiet as a regular passenger car. If we have to worry about the color of tents for visual impact under LNT, then we should make sure these official ATV’s are QUIET!

    For the life of me, I never understood why ATV’s, JetSki’s and Motorcycles have to be so loud except for the “macho” marketing factor.

    • Alex Colvin // March 27, 2014 at 11:41 am // Reply

      I teach motorcycle classes and we don’t teach our students to have loud bikes but we encourage it for one reason. Our protection, many bikes with stock exhaust are really quit, sometimes you can’t hear them driving and their are people who drive cars that don’t pay attention to us! People in cars don’t pay attention to motorcyclists I see people pull out all the time in front of us. That’s why we have “loud” exhaust because people don’t pay attention.

      • Gary Wilson // March 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm // Reply

        So now ATV’s have to be loud to avoid accidents with trees? There are no people driving cars where these BSA ATV’s are supposed to be operated.

  7. Fred Heilbrunn // March 27, 2014 at 11:12 am // Reply

    So much for LNT! Another example of money trumping ethics in B$A.

  8. Dale Karweik // March 27, 2014 at 11:15 am // Reply

    Scouts are overweight and now we promote riding on ATV’s and Jet Skis rather than walking and paddling. Noise enough to ensure no Scout will ever see wildlife and the trails will become rutted and unusable, just to try to get a few Scouts into the program. This sells our soul as a Keeper of the Wild beyond anything I ever expected. Shame on you, B$A.

  9. I agree with the others regarding Leave No Trace. There is no way this complies with the concept. Sure have them only ride on approved trails; I have been to enough scout camps with teenage scouts to know they will not remain on those trails. Not being a luddite, but I believe all things motorized have no business in Scoouting.

  10. Kelly Horton // March 27, 2014 at 11:38 am // Reply

    BSA camps offer Motor Boating MB and Waterskiing MB’s which require gasoline and other petro. Thy also make noise, disturb aquatic life and can destroy lake fronts. So why not destroy the land and disturb the peace and quite of the outdoors as well. Of course I am joking about this.
    I think there are pluses and minuses to every thing as well as opinions of both sides. Many scouts enjoy the outdoors and use ATV’s for hunting and camping. I use one to drag my deer out of the woods. Some states allow ATV use for disabled people so they too can hunt and enjoy the outdoors.
    Who is correct? I am not sure. Time will tell what the outcomes are.

  11. I think ATV’s and SxS are a good addition to the BSA program. As long as we ride responsibly and be courteous to our neighbors. We can also ride and LNT if we stay on approved trails and not bushwhack with the ATV. I have been riding ATV’s for 12 years and I have seen the good, bad, and ugly side of other riders. If you take a look at the Piute trail in Utah and the Hatfield and McCoy Trail system in WVA, you will see that stewardship does work and can be done by scouts; if we teach them the right way.

    • Gary Wilson // March 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm // Reply

      Is your ATV quieter than a passenger car or does it echo through the wilderness like a motorcycle? I have no problem with ATV’s as long as their sound footprint doesn’t exceed 25 feet.

      Most people enjoy the woods for the quiet, and, as long as the ATV’s adhere to that, then then they can be “courteous to our neighbors” . But if they impose their noise on others, than they cannot..

      • I guess you only think scouts can play, and have fun, so long it doesn’t exceed your 25 feet footprint.

        • Gary Wilson // March 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm //

          BSA’s Leave No Trace program already has guidelines for the noise created by Scout groups. Suggest you read it.

          Adding loud mechanical noise to the wilderness certainly goes against it. If ATV’s were as quiet as the much larger engines are on a passenger car we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Haven’t ATV manufacturers ever heard of mufflers? And if gasoline powered portable generators such as at the Honda EU2000i can operate below 60dB noise levels, why can’t ATV’s?

  12. I think this is a great addition as not all Scouts get a chance to ride one of these and this will give them that opportunity too. I also think that Scouts needs to evolve and offer new and different things to challenge the Scouts and this could be one of those things. Being that Scouts have to be 14 to ride these it might give them a reason to stay in longer as it was about a month ago that there was a forum on 12 year olds being Eagle Scouts. I personally think 14 is too old as I know states require that kids 12 and over take a safety course I think that should be incorporated into their use to help them get state certified as well starting at 12, but I am sure it is for insurance reasons

    I agree with the leave no trace and the noise issues but these are a part of our world so why not embrace them and show the Scouts fun responsible use and care of the them while showing them how they can be used and still respect nature at the same time.

    Thank you BSA and Polaris for making this happen.

  13. Kevin Wills // March 27, 2014 at 11:56 am // Reply

    BSA didn’t just sign an agreement with LNT. They also signed one with Tread Lightly for minimizing impact with motorized vehicles. BSA outdoor ethics awards have more information.

  14. All I can ask is WHY? Based on BSA National guidelines, We cannot allow scouts to climb short ladders or in many cases even use a paint roller with a broom handle to work on an Eagle Project, but we can have them driving ATVs? Great exercise! Great for the environment. What were they thinking?

  15. I too think this is a bad idea.

    One thing I don’t think Bryan did a good job of stressing, this is a Council activity only. Units cannot do this on their own. Articles like this one (or the one on personal watercraft last year in Scouting magazine) are a disaster for risk management.

  16. This is totally written as a fluff piece. Obviously some folks, likely quite a few, think this is a bad idea. Why not even a hint of objectivity in the piece by talking to someone who might disgree?

    • This isn’t a newspaper. It’s an announcement of a new program offering.

  17. I love the idea. I think it’s something that keeps our older boys interested in the program. They’ll be on trails – not riding right up to folks in tents at night.

  18. I like the idea as well. We need to be where the youth are if we expect them to stay members. I ride ATVs in the back country for work, and while I understand the resistance, they DO have a place. The youth are going to ride them anyway. If we save one life teaching them how to ride safely, it’s worth it.

    My question is; is this simply a way for Polaris to advertise, or are they actually going to put their money into this and donate machines to camps for this program? Because there are many many respected ATV safety training programs out there. We don’t have to use Polaris to offer a really good (and safe) program.

  19. How is it possible for ATV and SxS to be use in Scouting when they are prohibited in the Guide to Safe Scouting, under the “Unauthorized and Restricted Activities” item number 1. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss08.aspx#e

  20. Bobby Sammons // March 27, 2014 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    Do I see a new Merit Badge coming soon?

  21. Tread Lightly! is LNT for ORVs (off-road vehicles). From the BSA Outdoor Ethics site:

    http://outdoorethics-bsa.org/

    The five principles of Tread Lightly! support the Outdoor Code by providing Scouting members with a principled framework to assist them in arriving at proper, ethical decisions while recreating in the outdoors.

    BSA signed a Memorandum of Mutual Support with Tread Lightly! in 2010.

    http://www.scouting.org/filestore/membership/pdf/MOU-TreadLightly.pdf

    Tread Lightly! will be added to the Boy Scout Handbook 13ed, due in 2016.

    http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/01/03/new-boy-scout-handbook-other-boy-scout-program-tweaks-due-in-2016/

    Hope this helps.

    Michael Smith, LNT Master Educator, ASM, T440, Silver Spring, MD

    PS – First posted on the Chief’s Blog (Wayne Brock).

  22. This is a bad move on the part of BSA. Quit trying to be “popular” and stick to being right. BSA is acting like when a really good kid tries to “fit in” with the populars, and gives up his convictions and qualities to do so.

  23. David B Terry // March 28, 2014 at 5:52 am // Reply

    Sorry, but this is not the BSA I’m interested in. It took decades for BSA to embrace LNT, now we participate in the largest cause of trail damage in the country ? There are other groups for this interest. What happened to conservation, preservation , being stewards of the outdoors as a key component of our program. Not to mention the disparity of perceived safety issues between this and over regulated and watered down activities. Makes no sense to me.

  24. Other than a refrigerator, what the heck is a side-by-side?

    • What’s the injury rate for ATV accidents? How much is the average settlement for an ATV-related lawsuit? The BSA may have to boost registration fees again.

  25. There are some pretty strong opinions on this subject. I think this us something that’s not black and white. The are things in life that will impact our environment. This cannot be argued. These are the situations that Tread Lightly applies. The are a lot of merit badges that teach the scouts how to use tools responsibly. And how to maintain them. It argue to exclude motorized merit badges would be short sighted. I hope to see a program addition like this implemented in a responsible manner.

    I find it concerning to see the aggressive responses on this post. But, this great country gives them the right to voice their opinion. It also Ives them the chance not be involved with the Boy Scout program and all it does for the growing men of our future.

  26. I have to admit that this may not be a conflict with the Guide to Safe Scouting (item 1 in the Restricted Activities allows for Council use only), but I would hope they will be very careful about which camps. I know our council struggles to have qualified leadership, and the reason ATVs are restricted is the danger. They’re too often considered toys (calling them recreational vehicles may have something to do with that). A good training program could be beneficial. Although, really, it should be reserved for Venturing age.

  27. Like so many of you, I have a strong opinion on this subject, as both a past scout leader and as a longtime advocate for safe and responsible motor sports activities.

    I could go on and on about evolution vs extinction (my SATURDAY Mass is no longer in LATIN), but I would prefer to focus on one very important fact that really needs to be stressed here – the BSA’s ATV program that I know is a 4.5 hour nationally recognized ATV instructional course, led by by professionally certified instructors on a controlled range. Emphasis is placed on safety while reinforcing responsible and courteous treatment of people and the environment. On noise, ATVs do come with mufflers/baffles. Modifying or neglecting an ATV (or dirtbike or motorcycle) to make noise is irresponsible, whether it’s a tot’s little ATV and a big bad street bike. The ATV course explains that. Electric powered bikes (ZERO and KTM) are here, and ATVs are coming, nearly silent! Wandering off trails or riding where permission has not been granted is also unacceptable behavior. As far as criticizing a manufacturer for supporting a safety program, I don’t get it. Motorcycle, dirtbike and ATV courses cannot exist without the donation of equipment. Safety courses provide lifesaving skills! So, if Polaris increases its sales, maybe Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and others should make some donations.

    Face it, many of our young men will eventually find themselves on some form of motorized recreational vehicle. We can instill in them now the best possible habits, in a safe and controlled environment, and not just hope they do well when a buddy hands over the keys and sends him out for a quick spin. The outcome could be horrific!!

    I’m all for getting the boys outside, away from that mighty XBOX, while learning to be safe and responsible adults. Isn’t that what’s important?

  28. You are all going heat me But Leave no Trace is a Joke ! If the ATV’s get use one more Scout Good. We need stop tree hugging and Let be Scouts and try new stuff
    Scoutmaster
    Jason
    219 NH

  29. The ATV program for BSA is the ATV Safety Institute Basic Rider Course. It is 16 very structured lessons on how to ride safely and manage risk. It is not scouts on machines racing around through the woods.
    There are sections in 2 lessons on LNT. Students are taught to respect others on the trail and to keep their impact to minunum.
    The last lesson also includes a trail rider on designated ATV trails, this is the only time students leave the riding arena.
    The lessons also include local, state and federal laws for ATV.
    All machines are maintain to high standards including the muffler systems. They are quieter then most law mowers.
    If your council offers the program, go check it and see it first hand before making uniformed comment.

  30. They are going to be a great joint venture. Great of Polaries ATV Store Dealers

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