This article is the fourth in a multi-part series highlighting the annual National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention (NRB 2023) held recently in Orlando, Florida. Here you can also read the firstsecond and third pieces.

Many families would love to have their boys involved in a scouting/adventure/character-building organization, but no longer see the Boy Scouts of America as a viable option.

Enter Trail Life USA.

The Daily Citizen spoke recently with Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life, at NRB 2023.

“[We’re] a Christ-centered, boy-focused, character and leadership mentoring organization. We started as a result of the Boy Scouts beginning to show signs that they were losing their way,” Mark told us.

“Boys are in such need in our culture today,” he added. “They’re unguided – one in four boys is now without a father in the household. They’re ungrounded in a culture where 58% of Americans now no longer believe that God is the foundation for morality. And they’re unappreciated – our culture says that boys and girls are interchangeable” (emphasis added).

Trail Life is similar to the Boy Scouts but is explicitly Christ-focused. And instead of shrinking, Trail Life is growing.

The organization has three “advancement” tiers for boys of various ages.

  • Boys on the Woodlands Trail(age 5-10) gain knowledge about outdoor skills, citizenship, character, friendship, and faith through fun activities, awards, and skill instruction.
  • As Navigators, boys age 11-13 gain understanding of their values and beliefs under the guidance of godly male role models through being responsible in outdoor adventures and in their home and school life. They explore areas of interest and earn Trail Badges for advancement.
  • As Adventurers, young men ages 14-18 mature in wisdom and faith through more difficult challenges and leadership activities with Christian men walking alongside. They plan and lead outdoor events and large projects while exercising leadership positions in the Troop, even mentoring some of the younger Trailmen.

Mark shared that Trail Life has continuously grown from its start in 2014.

As the Daily Citizen previously reported, just a couple of months back, Trail Life celebrated a significate milestone: the formation of its 1,000th troop.

In a statement after announcing its achievement, the group said:

Trail Life offers boy-focused, adventure-driven solutions delivered in the context of a Christian worldview that encourage boys to embrace what makes them unique and build strong relationships with other boys, mentors, and most importantly, Christ.

The group now has over 50,000 members, with troops in all 50 states.

Trail Life USA seeks to turn this tide and help boys develop into healthy men.

The need for a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts of America has become readily apparent over the past decade.

As we’ve previously written, “The group had about five million members in the 1970s, with 2.1 million reported in 2019.

“Now renamed Scouts BSA, the organization faced more than 95,000 separate claims of sexual abuse, ranging from 8-year-old boys to men in their nineties. The organization settled for $850 million with one group of victims in July 2021, and for $1.9 million with another group in September of that year.

“In 2013, Scouts BSA went from boys only and reverent toward God to allowing gay-identified boys (2013), then openly gay adult leaders (2015), then girls who identify as transgendered boys (2017), to ultimately allowing girls to join (2017).”

Mark told us, “We know that boys and girls are different, and we’re not afraid to say that.”

Additionally, all leaders with Trail Life undergo background checks and child safety protection training, and they must sign a statement of faith affirming they hold Christian beliefs and values.

“We are unapologetically Christian,” Mark shared. “We’re not an outdoor organization that’s having a Christian experience. We are at our core a Christian ministry that uses the outdoors to turn boys into godly men.”

Those interested in participating can find more information at Trail Life USA, including resources about how to Find a Troop and Start a Troop.

Related articles and resources:

Christian Scouting Group – Trail Life USA – Celebrates 1,000th Troop

American Heritage Girls – A Safe Place for Girls to Grow Up As Women

Trail Life USA – A Strong Place for Boys to Grow Up as Men

As Boy Scouts Continues to Lose Members, Trail Life USA Keeps Growing

Boy Scouts Now Admitting Girls

Photo from Shutterstock.