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Trail Life CEO: ‘If we fail this generation it won’t be because we over-challenged them, it will be because we under-challenged them’

September 30, 2022

GREENVILLE, S.C.Trail Life USA (TrailLifeUSA.com), the premier national Christian character development organization for young men, has always provided boys with unique opportunities to rise to challenges, build character, and prove their mettle, all while building relationships and learning more about God through outdoor adventure. Trail Life leaders know that boys thrive when they are challenged — that’s when real learning truly begins.

After months of planning and training, 16 Trailmen from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia accepted the challenge and assembled at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA to make the 335-mile bike journey to Washington D.C. on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath. Averaging 30-50 miles a day, they traveled through the deepest gorge in Pennsylvania, around the Paw Paw Tunnel, along the edge of Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland, beside the Potomac River, and into Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Each morning and evening the boys spent time reflecting on the day, reading scripture, and appling spiritual truths. After nine days, the journey ended at Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C.

Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, commented, “This is exactly the kind of challenge and adventure boys are longing for. Environments that prioritize safety, inclusion, and failure avoidance at the expense of risk, adventure, and reward leave boys feeling uninspired. Too often their disinterest is understandably interpreted as apathy, rebellion, or laziness when they are just hungry for a challenge.

God made man to explore, conquer, lead, face dangers, and overcome obstacles with the tools, heart, and power God instilled in him as a man. At Trail Life, we are teaching boys to fulfill God’s purpose and obey His commands each time we put them in a situation where they must solve problems and overcome the difficulties life throws at them. Boys need that. If we fail this generation, it won’t be because we over-challenged them. It will be because we underchallenged them.”

But emphasizing challenge, adventure, risk and reward by no means excludes inclusion, comraderie, and compassion. One of the Trailmen who was part of the adventure was 17-year-old Lev, a Ukrainian refugee. The boys in the group helped foster a sense of camaraderie and friendship while they in turn learned more about his life and culture. One of the Trail Life dads overseeing the bike journey commented, “We enjoyed him singing songs and hymns in Russian as he rode behind us. He was able to practice and learn a lot of English on the trip. I’m so glad to be part of a great organization like Trail Life USA that helps build boys into great men.”

To read more about the Trailmen’s nine-day trek across four states, click here.

Trail Life’s unique approach is garnering attention from families across the nation. Trail Life has grown by over 12,000 new Troop members in 2022 alone. In just the last month, over 500 individuals have reached out for information on starting a Trail Life Troop, and more than 30 new Troops have been chartered in the past 30 days. With Trail Life’s success in growing to nearly 45,000 members in under ten years, boys and men are building meaningful relationships, growing in character, developing in leadership, and just having fun in the great outdoors.

Trail Life USA has received praise from some of the top Christian voices today, including Focus on the Family, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, Family Life, Promise Keepers, the American Family Association, and many others. 

Trail Life USA is the premier national character development organization for young men, producing godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens. Trail Life’s mission is to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure. Troops exist in all 50 states and are growing as Trail Life USA expands around the country. Find a Troop today, or Start a Troop in your community. Find out more at TrailLifeUSA.com.  

Trail Life USA’s K-12 program centers on outdoor experiences that build a young man’s skills. A robust awards program motivates young men to grow on a personal level to become role models and leaders among their peers. Living the Trail Life USA is a journey established on timeless values derived from the Bible.    

Discover more about Trail Life USA atTrailLifeUSA.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or Vimeo.