‘This is Our Moment to Show the Kind of Positive, Meaningful Impact That Trail Life Troops Can Make in Boys’ Lives’
October 18, 2021
GREENVILLE, S.C.— There is a crisis in America, and it is not the current pandemic. The 2020 U.S. Census reported that one in four children, or 18.3 million kids, live in a home without a father, step-father, or father-figure. Children who grow up without a strong paternal figure in their lives are more likely to have behavioral problems, have substance abuse issues, drop out of school, or other concerning traits. The need for a godly role model is great, yet many men struggle to make that connection with the children in their lives.
Trail Life USA (TrailLifeUSA.com), the largest Christ-centered, boy-focused scout-type organization in the country, provides the solution to this problem. Dedicated to building character, fostering leadership skills, and encouraging adventure in boys across America, Trail Life offers a safe place for boys and men to create meaningful relationships that will impact both fathers and sons. Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life, commented, “Our society is plagued by absent or disengaged fathers. But willing men can make a difference. Boys need men who are enthralled by their exuberance, acknowledge their abilities, pursue their passions, celebrate their strengths, and nurture their independence.”
What makes Trail Life a natural place to forge meaningful relationships between fathers and sons is the emphasis of the great outdoors. The outdoors with all its inherent adventure creates a unique opportunity to teach responsibility, forge leadership, impart masculinity, and mold boys to become biblically bold and courageous men of character. “In the outdoors, the experience of adults is never obsolete,” stated Hancock. “It is a natural place for boys to find mentors, fathers and sons to connect, important relationships to be fostered, and for boys to find opportunities to achieve significant accomplishments. The outdoors is a place for boys to mature and become men in community with godly men.”
One example of a father-son relationship that benefitted from Trail Life’s unique outdoor approach is that of John and Hayden LaVeau from Trail Life Troop IL 1230. According to son Hayden, “When I first joined Trail Life, my dad and I weren’t on the best of terms. He travels for his work a lot, and we really never talked.” John agreed with Hayden’s assessment, stating, “I was a drop-off dad. When Hayden first started in Trail Life, I would just drop him off and sit in the truck. I had no interest in getting involved in Trail Life.”
But things were about to change for the LaVeau’s. John commented, “My wife suggested that I join Hayden in a Trail Life EQUIP Training event; it had never occurred to me to go! So I went, not having a clue what was in store. My son and I showed up together and I’ve been going ever since.”
“Ever since that first adventure together, my dad and I have grown closer and closer,” Hayden said. “I can honestly say that he’s moved from being just my dad to being one of the closest people to me. Even when he’s away for work, we talk every day and he calls and prays with the family every night.”
John summarized, “Trail Life is for bringing fathers and sons together, and I am so thankful that my son got me involved.”
The result of this renewed bond between father and son is easy to see. John has become the Point Man for Troops in the region and is actively involved with Troop IL-1230. Hayden has recently achieved his Freedom Award—the highest award available to Trailmen. Completion of this award requires a demonstrated mastery of 25 Trail Badges, focused mastery in chosen areas by completing two minors and a major during their Freedom Experiences, a demonstrated servant attitude as they perform over 20 hours of servant service each year, the completion of an approved faith building activity, the clear demonstration of leadership skills among the rest of the Troop, and a capstone Servant Leadership Projet that involves budgeting, planning, organizing a volunteer team, and leading a substantial project that benefits the community. Hayden achieved this high honor—with the support and encouragement of his father along the way.
“Trail Life USA supplies the place, the programs, and the outdoor adventures to connect boys to other boys, to adult mentors, and to their God-given purpose to become godly men,” said Hancock. “This is our moment to show the kind of positive, meaningful impact that Trail Life Troops can make in boys’ lives, and to inspire them to strengthen and maintain those friendships with fellow Troop members and mentors into their adult years.”
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 for your son today, or Start a Troop in your area. Find out more at TrailLifeUSA.com.
Since Trail Life USA launched on January 1, 2014, it has grown to over 35,000 members in over 880 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.
To interview Mark Hancock from Trail Life USA, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.