The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) sparked controversy a few months ago when the organization changed its membership policies to allow gay youths to join. Conservatives reacted with a variety of views on the matter, but one of the larger developments to emerge was a pledge among some of the policy's fiercest critics to create a Christ-centered alternative to the BSA.
Over the past week, this promise has been kept with the official launch of Trail Life USA, a new alternative that describes itself as "a Christian adventure, character, and leadership movement for young men."
Photo Credit: Trail Life USA
The organization is opening its doors with great fanfare. Already, more than 6,000 people have liked its Facebook page and a flashy new website is up and running. Perhaps the group's vision provides the most evidence that it could give the BSA a run for its money.
The Trail Life USA statement reads, "Our vision is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens."
The group makes no bones about the fact that it has a "Christian" mission, plainly inserting the word on its about page. From outdoor adventure to physical and mental challenges, Trail Life USA is planning to offer a fascinating experience for young people -- and with a pledge to build character while doing so.
A trailer provides a brief look into what participation in the group might look like:
Some might dismiss the possibility that a grassroots group of this nature would be able to reach mainstream success, but a press release noted that, on Sep. 6, 1,200 former Scoutmasters, Eagle scouts, church leaders and parents gathered in Nashville, Tenn., to announce the official launch.
Considering that Trail Life USA is new, this is a relatively large crowd, with the release also noting that 44 states were represented among the members. The meeting accounted for the organization's first inaugural Leadership Convention.
"All boys are welcome to the program regardless of religion, race, national origin or socio-economic status. However, adult leaders in the program will be Christian and must sign a statement of faith and submit to background checks," a press release reads. "Both boys and adults will be required to adhere to a code of conduct."
Previously, TheBlaze covered that the groundwork for the organization was being set, but now it is fully functional. The name Trail Life USA was first unveiled last week (you can read more about the organization here). While representatives have said that Trail Life USA isn't anti-BSA, it's quite possible that tensions will arise if some willingly leave the latter group for the former.
Only time will tell how successful the new, Christian initiative will be.