Empowering Kids for a Motorized Future

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By Del Albright

Kids in the outdoors -- such a crucial part of the future of outdoor recreation. The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and about every other enviro/eco organization has a focused youth program designed to get kids outside with an indoctrination towards protecting, preserving but not really "using" our resources. Look but don't really touch.

Then those of us who love motors and exploring by vehicle have to compete with electronics, video games, ear buds, pods and pads, We have a few OHV groups with great programs for kids, for sure! But I don't think nearly enough. We have to find ways to empower our children to enjoy, use smartly, conserve wisely, appreciate, and yet be able to ensure a future of access for all.

There is a difference in youth involvement between the various motorized sports. Dirt bikers get their kids on a machine nearly as soon as the little one can walk. Hero-worship sets in early for motorbikers too, as their sport is full of champions, races, and heroes. Plus, the kids can go out and ride before they have a license.

Four-wheelers have a different path for kids. The kids get to ride; a few might drive under careful supervision in controlled circumstances, but for the most part, for a kid, it's being an "observer" rather than a participant. That doesn't invoke the same commitment and enthusiasm for the sport as a dirt biking kid.

So we have to fin ways to empower our kids, treat them to fun, and show them the excitement, while teaching them our common sense ways of using public lands. You can good samples of kids programs at http://www.nohvcc.org, http://www.treadlightly.org; and other big associations. Just do a search and see what you come up with for your kids.

If you were to share a group with a great kids/youth program, who would that be?

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