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    CEO of Trail Life USA stresses need for boys to have strong male role models

    By Asher Notheis,

    30 days ago

    EXCLUSIVE — In a world where boys and young men are not offered many positive role models to look to, one organization is seeking to fill this need and train the next generation of men to be leaders.

    Trail Life USA, which started in 2013 as an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America , has grown to 60,000 members since its creation and offers boys ways to partake in adventures in the outdoors while guiding them in a biblical foundation with men. Mark Hancock, the CEO of the organization, told the Washington Examiner that one out of four boys do not have a father in their home and that a wide majority of their teachers in public education are women, stressing a need for boys to have male role models in the modern world.

    “You can’t find them in sports, they can’t find them in politics, they can’t find them in front of them in the classroom, and a lot of them don’t have them in their homes,” Hancock said. “So we surround them with these good and godly men to show them what it looks like to be a good man.”

    Hancock explained that the growth of Trail Life USA is in part thanks to fathers who volunteer to be leaders as their sons participate. However, the organization has also recruited men who do not have sons in the program but are “concerned about the next generation” and seek to help guide young men.

    Hancock also told a story of a young man in Trail Life USA who lived in California and was awarded the organization’s second highest award: the Horizon Award. This man was raised by a single mother, and upon receiving the award, he said he wanted to thank the men in the organization for providing him with amazing leadership.

    “He said, ‘You taught me how to shave, and you taught me how to love Jesus,’” Hancock said. “And you got to think that mom is probably, it’s like she just hit a home run, she found a place for her son to be around these men who helped him to learn things that typically you would expect a father to teach him, and then also to learn the character and the leadership and developing his personal faith too. So that was a beautiful thing to hear.”

    Trail Life USA, Hancoked explained, is a “specifically Christian” organization and so far has over 1,200 troops in churches across the United States. Hancock said there are “dozens” of denominations of Christianity within the organization and that churches in line with Trail Life USA’s faith and values are eligible to charter its troops.

    When asked why it is important to teach biblical religion and principles in an outdoor program, Hancock explained that Trail Life USA focuses on teaching character and leadership and that it is not possible to teach about character without having a foundation of truth. As such, the organization uses the Bible as its foundation for truth, as “it’s really helpful to have those values” at the base of the organization.


    Trail Life USA’s gradual growth over the last 11 years comes as the Boy Scouts of America has made dramatic changes over the years, including allowing homosexual scouts in 2013 and allowing girls to join Boy Scout troops in 2018. The organization’s most recent change was made earlier this month when it announced that it plans to rebrand to “Scouting America,” with this name change set to take place next year; Hancock reacted to the rebranding as “tragic but not unexpected.”

    The Boy Scouts of America declined to comment to the Washington Examiner on Hancock’s statements.

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