Boys’ 50-mile Trail Life canoe trip cultivates grit, perseverance and character

Trail Life encourages boys to overcome obstacles to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for their own talents and abilities’

April 11, 2022

GREENVILLE, S.C.Trail Life USA (TrailLifeUSA.com), the largest Christ-centered, boy-focused scout-type organization in the country, inspires boys to rise to challenges and persevere during tough times, allowing for a sense of achievement and purpose.

Trail Life CEO Mark Hancock stated, “This is what boys are created for. They are designed to embrace challenge, to rise to the occasion, and to overcome. Their God-given drive is to get out in creation, to get wet, to get their hands dirty, to climb the tallest tree, to take the next hill. Rather than allowing boys to succumb to the difficulties of a challenge, Trail Life encourages boys to overcome any obstacle and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for their own talents and abilities.”

On Friday, March 11, 2022, Troopmaster James Reidland was surprised by snow as he made final preparations for a for a five-day, 50-mile canoe Trip in Big Bend National Park. Wondering what challenges the boys would face this year, he muttered a prayer, checked tie-downs, and continued last-minute preparations. Soon the boys and leaders of Troops TX-0415 and TX-0915 began to arrive. They had spent months working together to plan this adventure. Not only were they undaunted by the weather, but their enthusiasm about the challenge was palpable.

Troopmaster Reidland commented, “We do this canoe trip almost every spring break. It is an amazing trip where we see the boys and dads grow closer in their walk with God! Typically, the days can be very difficult—they push the boys to their limits (sometimes dads too). However, I see more growth from these boys on this trip more than any other activity that we do. This year was no exception.”

With the cold weather and late start, “the first day was very tough and the boys began to feel discouraged— some even began to express regret about their decision to come,” according to Reidland. “The beauty of this type of adventure is that quitting is not an option. Boys and leaders have to pull together to meet needs, solve problems, and persevere. That was certainly the case this year. Our usual first stop in the canyon was so delayed that we had to navigate by moonlight for the last mile.”

However, as the days progressed, the weather warmed and Troop members began to reflect on the additional challenges of this year’s adventure, reveling in the sense of accomplishment. According to one participant, “It is in those moments, when things are tough, we really find out who we are and what we can accomplish. We learn that challenges aren’t so big, and that we have what it takes to get through hard times and achieve our goals.”

Hancock commented, “It is so important that boys are a part of planning and preparing for adventures like these. When boys know the plan and participate in preparation, there is a palpable enthusiasm and energy. A boy’s longing for risk, competition, independence, and responsibility are necessary God-given desires that, when provided adequately, enable him to develop into a mature man of character. Boys thrive when provided with proper challenge, adventure, accomplishment, accolade, and advancement. Intentionally increasing responsibility and independence as sons mature is essential. If challenge and encouragement are not sufficient and developmentally appropriate, instead of becoming confident, resilient leaders of character, boys fall into one of the twin pitfalls of adolescence: anger or apathy.”

Through tried-and-true methodology, 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.

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.    ###