Hamilton Strategies Non Profit Marketing and Media Services

Trail Life USA CEO Calls For a Return to ‘Real Connection’

August 3, 2021

GREENVILLE, S.C.— An international study shows loneliness is increasing even as young people are more ‘connected’ than any previous generation in history. The survey showed that school loneliness was not related to income inequality or family size, but increased alongside the emergence of smartphones.

The Journal of Adolescence study documents the rise in teen loneliness since 2000, noting that 15- and 16-year-olds in 37 countries show increasing loneliness that coincides with exploding smartphone access and increased internet use. The pace accelerated from 2012 to 2018.

Over 1 million teens completed the Measure of Loneliness surveys in 2000, 2003, 2012, 2015, and 2018 with increasingly concerning results.

The link to smartphones was not necessarily causal nor exclusive to teens; adults also access the internet and social media via handheld devices. However, the number of disconnected teens is particularly alarming.

“We live in an age of hyper-connectedness,” states Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA (TrailLifeUSA.com). “Every evening parents and teens drive past dozens of homes only to drive into their garage, disappear into separate rooms, and engage virtually. Video games have replaced the tribe of roving neighborhood boys on bikes, the text message has been substituted for the doorbell, and the glow of virtual television guests has replaced any real connection around the dinner table. People share the trivial and everyday aspects of their lives to a virtual world in an effort to generate virtual approval gauged by likes and shares. But we need real connection.”

Hancock continues, “Through Trail Life USA, families are finding time to slow down, roast marshmallows, and sit around a campfire. Fathers and sons are scheduling time to go camping, and men are connecting through outdoor adventures. Real relationships are forming, and boys and men are finding meaning as they serve their community together. This type of connection and meaning is the answer to the loneliness brought on by a world of virtual communication and exacerbated by the COVID fears and isolationism of the past year.”  

Trail Life USA is a Church-Based, Christ-Centered, Boy-Focused mentoring and discipleship journey that speaks to the heart of a boy. Established on timeless values derived from the Bible and set in the context of outdoor adventure, boys from kindergarten through 12th grade are engaged in a Troop setting by male mentors where they are challenged to grow in character, understand their purpose, serve their community, and develop practical leadership skills to carry out the mission for which they were created. 

Trail Life has experienced a 70% increase in new members compared to the previous year, adding dozens of new Troops and expanding total membership to over 30,000. In just the last month, over 300 individuals have reached out for information on starting a Trail Life Troop. 

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. Get involved in a Troop near you, or Start a Troop in your community today.      

Since Trail Life USA launched on January 1, 2014, it has grown to over 30,000 members in over 850 Troops across the nation. The 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.comFacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube, or Vimeo.  


To interview Mark Hancock from Trail Life USA, contactMedia@HamiltonStrategies.comJeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.