How to form your own ATV club
June 6, 2011
Forming or joining an ATV club may be the best thing you’ll ever do for your driving and riding enjoyment
By Steve Casper and NOHVCC
Let’s face it. The main driving force behind virtually every ATV area that is newly opened (or saved from closing) are well-organized groups of drivers and riders. The truth is, each of us on our own doesn’t really have much of a voice when it comes to the complicated and drawn-out process of opening and saving off-highway recreation areas. But as a group, whether through coalitions, state ATVorganizations or as local clubs, we have a strong, unified voice that the movers and shakers in our communities tend to listen to.
So all right, that's one very important reason to join a club. However, there are many more fun aspects to signing up with the Tri-County Trail Blazers and meeting every second Wednesday at the Methodist Church. By meeting and interacting with other local ATVers you’ll get the scoop on all the best trails and roads in your neck of the woods, the best places to camp, the tastiest Friday Nite Fish Fry on the outskirts of Podunckville. Plus, ATV clubs are always planning weekend trips with groups of people that nearly always make the driving and riding experiences more fun. Even during the off-season, many club members have occasional get-togethers just for the heck of it. There’s even the aspect of having a huge pool of off-highway information from the club members such as which aftermarket parts work best for your vehicle, who makes the best trailer, and what's the latest hot setup for pickups and RVs.
Are club riders happier riders?
From our experience with literally hundreds of ATV enthusiasts over the years, we’ve found that the riders and drivers who are involved in local clubs tend to get the most satisfaction from their ATV experiences. There is however, a little of the old chicken and the egg question here- which came first; do ATVers who are really crazy about their sport tend to join clubs, or are they drawn even further into the sport by joining one. I imagine the answer is it’s a little of both. But I do feel certain about one thing here. Though I don’t have any statistics to back me up, from what I’ve seen over the years, ATV enthusiasts who are active in their clubs definitely seem to go riding more often, have more fun and more friends, and make an extremely positive impact on the future of their sport by always practicing and preaching impeccable off-highway ethics.
But isn't there some work involved?
OK, all the fun stuff about being a club member does involve a bit of work if you want to reap all of the benefits. Sure, someone has to be Secretary, Treasurer, President, etc., and someone has to make the campground reservations and be in charge of sign-up, etc., but with a large group working together as one it’s probably no more time consuming than planning a big trip for your family all by yourself. And to keep your trails open, there will probably be trail cleaning and trail maintenance days, and auction fundraisers or carwashes, but hey, those usually turn into real fun family activities.
Walking you through step-by-step
So now that you’re ready to join an existing club, or start one on your own, where do you begin? Well, there just happens to be an organization that will do everything in their power to help you in this quest, and they’ll do it all for free. The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) has a stated goal of “Creating a Positive Future for Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation”. At the very top of their list is the task of getting as many riders and drivers as possible to join or form clubs. Why is this? Because they understand what a big boost every single member is for the future of our sport. (Plus, I guess, down deep, they just plain want you to have more fun!)
Joining an already established club is of course the easiest route for you to help accomplish this goal. Virtually every state has an NOHVCC representative who has a master of list of all the dirt bike, ATV and 4x4 clubs in their state with phone numbers and e-mail contacts. To find the club nearest to where you live, simply call the NOHVCC 800 number listed at the end of this article and they’ll get you hooked up with your state rep. There’s also a list of the clubs on the website. Of course not all of us will be fortunate enough to have an established club all ready to take us in for $20-$30 a year. In that case, you and your riding and driving pals may want to start your own club from scratch. The NOHVCC is very prepared to help you with that task as well, by offering a proven, and well-used Off-Highway Vehicle Club Start-Up Kit free. In it you’ll find easy-to-understand, step-by-step instructions on how to get your club up and running, as well as tips on maintaining a strong volunteer infrastructure which is the key to the more successful and long-lived clubs.
Club Start-up Rundown
In the NOHVCC Off-Highway Vehicle Club Start-Up Kit you’ll find all the details on how to accomplish the following steps to getting your own club up and running:
- Getting the word out about your first meeting.
- Setting an agenda for the first meeting which includes things like introductions, discussions, nominations/volunteers, identification of positions which need to be filled, identification of member’s talents that can be utilized, education, and refreshments and social time.
- Setting an agenda for the first Board of Directors meeting, which includes things like job descriptions, dues, legal issues, insurance and bylaws.
- Parliamentary procedures.
- Volunteer time records.
- Putting together a newsletter.
- Procedures for cash disbursements and receipts.
If all this sounds a bit intimidating, no need to worry because you’ll also have personal access to your own state NOHVCC representative who is available to help you throughout the entire process if you happen to hit any snags. Eventually of course, your state ATV association will want your new organization under their umbrella as well, which means by then you will have accomplished a job well done.
As easy as one phone call or e-mail
To boost your riding experience up to a new fun-filled, exciting level by joining or forming an ATV club, simply call the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council for all the info. The phone number for their main office in Great falls, Montana is 800-348-6487 and they are also easy to reach by e-mail at [email protected] You can receive the free Club Kit electronically or hard copy by mail. The NOHVCC also has a great website www.NOHVCC.org with lots of info on many other off-highway topics such as an ATV library, ATV Park Manual, ATV Trail Guidelines, acquiring trail funds, working with land managers and local politicians and legislators, access to a national network of ATV activists, youth programs, training programs, safety issues, education, and much more.