Dan Moore, a volunteer in the BSA’s Montana Council, has seen his share of first-rate trails for all-terrain vehicles.
He even helped build five miles of ATV trails at a Scout camp in Montana.
All this experience means that if you want to get Moore’s heart racing these days, your ATV trail better be world class.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. A world-class ATV experience now awaits Scouts and Venturers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.
It’s called the Polaris OHV Center for Excellence.
Moore himself helped design the trails, and they’re sponsored by Polaris, the top name in ATVs and UTVs (utility task vehicles). Polaris has generously signed on to be the official ATV and UTV provider of the BSA and SBR.
The new ATV trails and ATV educational safety pavilion were designed to meet two major goals: they had to be fun, and they had to be safe.
Check and check.
“The whole trail is fun and exciting, but there is one particular section where there are so many twists and turns you really lose track of whether you are going up or down or right or left,” Moore says. “Scouts will come away from the experience with life skills and wide smiles.”
How to enjoy the ATV trails at SBR
Scouts and Venturers who attend this summer’s National Scout Jamboree will be the first to try these new trails. After that, Scouts and Venturers who participate in a high-adventure program at SBR can make ATVs part of their week of fun.
For ATV participation at the Jamboree:
- Be 14 or older.
- Complete the free, online ATV safety course.
- Complete the parental consent waiver.
- Participants must bring a printed copy of their completed safety course certificate and parental consent waiver to the Jamboree. They can bring printed copies or take a picture of the waiver and the safety certificate and have it saved on their phone.
- Sign up for a time slot at the Polaris ATV Program Area at the Jamboree. There is limited capacity, so it’s suggested that you stop by the Polaris ATV Training site early in the Jamboree to reserve a spot later in the event.
- Participants must wear hiking boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt while in the ATV program. All other safety gear will be provided.
For ATV participation after the Jamboree:
Keep an eye on the Summit Bechtel Reserve website to learn how you can try the new course after the Jamboree.
How the trails were built
When Dick Dufourd of RecConnect and Russ Ehnes of NOHVCC (the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council) built these trails, they knew they’d need to both protect the environment and meet the needs of ATV riders.
So they planned, designed and constructed trails that are challenging, thrilling and environmentally responsible.
Unlike freely riding around in an open field (which can still be a blast), the ATV trails at SBR add turns and obstacles to the mix.
Plus, established trails focus the impact on the environment. Trails that are safe and fun ensure that people don’t skip the trails and search for other unmanaged places to have fun.
Why the trails are safe
The ATV trails:
- Keep the trails curvilinear, which keeps the speeds down but the fun factor high.
- Include proper signage, meaning riders can concentrate on the technical aspects of the trail without worrying about getting lost or off-trail.
- Open sight lines enough for the riders to be able to look ahead — but not so much that they see a long enough distance ahead to increase speed.
- Add rails to a low bridge that is part of a skills-development obstacle.
The trails themselves are half of the equation. The other half is the rider-education course, where ATV riders learn to use their body position to control their machine.
“Scouts can expect to learn safe and responsible riding in a safe and controlled manner and have a blast doing it,” Moore says. “The riders will definitely experience every aspect of the safe rider training they receive.”