Trail Life USA pledges to keep its ‘affirming’ boys focus as Boy Scouts of America announces it will start welcoming girls.
Trail Life USA pledges to keep its ‘affirming’ boys focus as Boy Scouts of America announces it will start welcoming girls
The leader of a national outdoor adventure program aiming to help develop men of character has reassured member – families and supporters that it will remain “a place where boys can be boys.”
Trail Life USA CEO Mark Hancock made the pledge in the wake of the announcement by the Boys Scouts of America that it will begin admitting girls next year.
Trail Life USA’s Christian – based leadership and development program will continue to serve boys and young
men exclusively, Hancock said.
“As gender blurring only increases, it is more important than ever that someone provides a safe environment where boys can be boys, and where their natural talents and tendencies can be affirmed, encouraged and developed by men who can offer a positive role model,” he stated.
Ignoring the essential differences between boys and girls does both sexes a disservice, Hancock said. “Increasingly, however, it seems that boys are being singled out and told that their natural traits and characteristics are somehow wrong or need to be corrected,” Hancock said. “We believe that, properly encouraged and nurtured by good role models, what makes a boy a boy is good, for the individual and for society.”
Blurring gender distinctions has made life “very confusing” for boys, Hancock said, noting that boys are far more likely than girls to be in special education or to have been diagnosed with ADHD. “Many parents are concerned that their children are raise d according to time – honored truths and needs,” said Hancock. “I can assure that we have no intention of following the lead of the Boys Scouts of America. We will continue to offer a place where the wildness and the natural tendencies of boys can be encouraged and shaped, for their good and for the good of society.”
War on Boyhood
The leader of a boys-only outdoor adventure program has warned of the consequences of what he says is the latest strike in the “war on boyhood.”
Hancock said the way the BSA move is playing out has confirmed fears that boys would be further marginalized. He referenced how in one media report, a BSA den leader said that the new girls had been calmer and easier to manage, while the boys were more easily distracted.
“Can you imagine what’s going to happen in that co-ed environment, where girls raise their hands to answer questions while boys squirm and poke each other?” Hancock commented. “In no time at all, the adults will be saying, ‘Why can’t you behave like Susie?’ That previously all-boy environment will favor the compliance of girls and, once again, boys will be told they can’t quite cut it.”
Hancock said this latest development is another move negatively impacting boys who, according to government statistics, are:
- Three times more likely to be enrolled in special education
- Four times more likely to be diagnosed ADHD
- Outnumbered two to one in top-10 senior rankings
“Confined to classroom settings more suited to girls and denied rough-and-tumble experiences that help them learn and grow, it is no wonder boys are struggling,” Hancock said. “They are losing out and not developing as strong, capable men because we are not letting them be fully-boys.
“Weakened expectations and participation trophies have led to our culture producing unproductive narcissists. They are unproductive because we don’t sufficiently challenge them, and they are narcissists because we don’t let them fail.”
Since it was founded in 2014, Trail Life USA has been embraced enthusiastically by families seeking a faith-based, nurture-and-activity program based on traditional values. Today there are almost 30,000 members in over 750 troops across 48 states. The organization has seen significant growth since the BSA’s decision to welcome girls.
“Boys love boy-focused, outside challenge in hierarchically structured environments,” said Hancock. “They thrive there. They need clear boundaries and designated leadership. If it’s unclear, they will create this structure in a way that looks like rebellion or resistance or apathy.”
In contrast, Trail Life USA “offers challenging outdoor and character-building—accountability from mentors and peers—and leadership opportunities.”
Typically chartered by local churches, Trail Life USA troops offer a K – 12 program centered on outdoor experiences that build young men’s skills and help them grow on a personal level and as role models and leaders for their peers.
Hancock advised parents looking for a similar opportunity for their daughters to consider Trail Life USA’s sister organization, American Heritage Girls . With more than 43,000 members
in 50 states, the movement offers “the same sort of gender – appropriate, values – based environment for growth as we do,” he said.
Trail Life USA (traillifeusa.com) is a Christian outdoor adventure, character and leadership program for boys and young men, K – 12. Chartered through churches in 48 states, the program centers on outdoor experiences and biblical values that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow o n a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers.
Combined Two Press Release from In Christ Communications & Trail Life.