For over a century the Boy Scouts of America has been the leading wilderness training program for young men across America and the World. Since its creation in 1910 over 110 million Americans have participated in the program and 2.7 million are participating currently. Without a doubt, many readers have either participated themselves or know someone who has. For those who have participated, many can agree that the experiences they had in the program have played a large part in shaping the type of man they are today. Many notable Americans have gone through the Boy Scout program such as American Filmmaker and Cinematographer Steven Spielberg, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Charlie Duke, and even many American politicians such as Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, and 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford.
Such a core of Alumni does not form out of coincidence. Many of the above men credit the experiences and training they received during their time as a scout for helping them become successful individuals. However the recent policy changes the Boy Scouts of America have embraced, such as changing the name of the Organization to the Scouts of America, allowing females to join the program in Co-ed regiments, and most recently allowing homosexual men to supervise and lead regiments, have given many current members and parents some concern that the group has lost many of the moral codes that once made the original Boy Scouts so upstanding. That is why in 2013 a group of Boy Scout leaders left the organization to form a new wilderness training program named Trail Life USA.
What is Trail Life USA?
Trail Life USA (TLUSA) is a Christian outdoor adventure program that emphasizes and teaches biblical moral values. Founded in late 2013 by John Stemberger along with Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, and other parents and scouting leaders who were concerned about many of the changes and decisions the Boy Scouts had made to their policies. They operate with the mission statement of “Walk Worthy!” This is based on the Scripture in Colossians 1:10: “… that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (NKJV).
TLUSA operates very similarly to the Boy Scouts of America in the sense that both use camping and the outdoors as a natural teaching environment for boys in the United States. Unlike the Boy Scouts, TLUSA operates directly under the Church, as a form of outreach for the local communities, with many of the scout leaders being pastors themselves or divisions chartered by the local church.
Currently there are over 26,000 members across 48 U.S. states. Each state has its own subdivisions based on current population densities. For instance, the State of Florida has five subdivisions, of which the South Florida division (named the Everglades Area) contains the Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Hendry and Glades counties. The regional director for the Everglades Area is José Garcia, of Oasis Church in Loxahatchee, Wellington. He and other leaders from other subdivisions in the state take the “Trailmen” out on a variety of adventures, many of which have been decided and planned by the some of the more veteran members themselves.
According to Garcia, “We hold that camping and the outdoors are natural teaching environments for boys as we strive toward our goal to be the premier adventure, character and leadership development organization for boys in the USA as we teach them biblical principles and life skills in the process.”
Essentially Trail Life USA was created as a Christ-centered alternative to the historical Boy Scouts of America, founded on biblical principles of male leadership and Christian family values.
Currently there are 40 troops across the entire State, with three in the Everglades area. But Garcia has stated there is much new interest in starting more. Those interested in joining an existing troop can visit www.traillifeusa.com to get started. Alternatively, you can contact your local church about possibly starting a troop for your community. Or contact the Regional Director for South Florida, José Garcia, at 754-245-0389 or [email protected].
André Woods is a 2017 Graduate of Coral Springs High School, born in Coral Springs and is currently a Sophomore at Broward College. He and his family attend Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale.