#33: Start 'Em Young - A message to the next generation of off-road enthusiasts (and parents)
The short story of how I was got started with the ASA really has to do with my parents, and my mom in particular. My mom was and is an incredible role model in my life, and she drug our mid 90’s Astro Van out to the dunes every other weekend growing up with our two quads and an open trailer. These experiences behind the bars at a young age gave me a passion for riding in the dunes, and that translated over into all of us wanting to help out “save the dunes” with the early 2000’s closures in Glamis (I was born in 1989, so you can see how my teenage years were filled with these Glamis issues). These closures made a huge impact on us – they were threatening to take away our livelihood and our passion. For me, that started when I was just 2 years old on my LT80.
When the volunteering opportunities came up for the ASA, especially kid-friendly opportunities like those at the annual Sand Sports Super Show, we signed up to help the ASA booth sell raffle tickets, shirts, license plates, calendars, and all kinds of other things that would benefit the ASA with much-needed revenue dollars. For us, it was a great way to not only help the sport we so dearly loved, but it was also a way to help the foremost organization that was actively trying to keep the dunes open (and open up the closures). Just like they did then, the ASA is putting the funds that you contribute to the organization directly towards your future right to recreate on public lands.
It was a decade later and my passion for the off-road world had turned into a career working at Kawasaki, KC HiLiTES, starting my own media company, and now working with Yamaha. I’m so thankful for the off-road industry, in so many ways, and my way to give back is to be on the Board of Directors for the ASA and hopefully inspire the next generation to get involved.
So, you’ve read to here, but you’re probably wondering how all of this applies to YOU and your family?!
I started by sharing my story of getting started with volunteering and getting educated about environmental issues at a young age, and I’m here to encourage you all to do the same with your kids!
Start educating your kids at a young age about the issues that are at immediately at hand (air quality, Oceano Dunes closures and impending litigation, land access in Glamis, etc…) and how they can get involved with the ASA and other organizations that protect our rights to off-road at amazing places. Encourage them to reach out to the ASA for regular volunteer opportunities. While you’re at it, become a volunteer yourself so you can make it a “family thing”, just like when you go to the dunes.
In addition to educating your family and volunteering, you can always practice good habits at the dunes, such as (these are some of the BEST lessons for the younger generation to learn at a young age!):
- Picking up trash, not only in camp but also in the dunes with the trash bag that you brought with you in your sand toy
- Following the rules (there are only a couple, come on people!) when you are camping at the dunes. Teach the younger generation everything from the basics (like cleaning up your camp, covering up your fire pit properly, and having the right whip flag on their sand toy) to the more prolific rules like 15mph within 500 feet of the main highways, etc
- Always wear your safety gear to encourage the next generation to do the same
- Encourage your duning community to join the ASA and support the organization through supporting memberships
- Fly your ASA checkered flag when you’re out at the dunes to show your support
- Encourage the businesses you shop at to become ASA business sponsors (if they aren’t already)
After all, this is a FAMILY sport, and starting kids out young with that persona will give them not only something to hold onto in the future, but it gives them a sense of purpose, responsibility, and accountability from a young age. Give them the tools to lead rides and pack/unpack the truck and/or trailer – it’ll teach them leadership and organization, among many other things, and you can’t replace those learning moments as they grow older and pass all of those good teachings onto their next generation.
I say again – Start ‘Em Young!