Trail Life USA, a Christian scouting group for boys and young men, celebrated a milestone last week, announcing the formation of its 1,000th Troop.
In a statement about the 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 organization has grown rapidly from its start in 2014, and it has another 150 Troops “currently in the process of being chartered,” The Christian Post reported.
Trail Life CEO Mark Hancock explained the goals of the organization:
The Trail Life mission is to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”
Until the industrial revolution took fathers from the home, boys learned on the farm and in apprenticeships alongside men. Now boys are straight-jacketed into a one-size fits all classroom with few masculine educational examples to model.
Boys are falling behind in an environment where they are expected to come inside, sit down, be still, do as they are told, and behave like the girls. Is it any surprise that two out of three students with learning disabilities are boys, boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, and girls now lead boys in every academic category?
Partnering with parents and more than 950 churches in all 50 states, Trail Life USA helps boys develop and mature through three stages:
- 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 understandingof 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 wisdomand 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.
The organization’s highest honor is The Freedom Award:
Earning the award requires a demonstrated mastery of a significant skill set including 15 required and 10 elective Trail Badges, performing 20 hours of servant service each year, and the distinction of having proven himself as a leader among his peers.
He must also complete four “Freedom Experiences” in 3 separate chosen fields; complete a Faith Building Activity; budget, plan, and organize a volunteer team to complete a Servant Leadership Project; and complete an advancement conference and formal Freedom Board of Review.
The need for a different national scouting program became apparent when the Boy Scouts of America began shifting away from its Christian roots and was rocked by sexual abuse scandals and plummeting memberships. 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).
Hancock touted Trail Life USA as a healthier, Christian alternative to help boys grow and mature:
What can boys and men do to recapture this sense of adventure and purpose and witness biblical masculinity in action? I believe this is found in Christ-centered, boy-focused, male-centric activity in outdoor adventure organizations like Trail Life USA.
As boys and men hike, camp, canoe, solve problems, and develop skills, mentors are found, fathers and sons connect, purpose is discovered, and boys encounter the unchanging biblical foundations upon which leadership and character are built.
Related articles and resources:
Focus on the Family Broadcast:
- 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
Photo from SparkFive.