With the new year came a new group for youth, based on Christian principles, as a response to the Boy Scouts of America's decision to allow gay scouts. Trail Life USA formally began operating Jan. 1.
Former Boy Scout and Scoutmaster Ron Orr stands outside his home in North Richland Hills, Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Orr, a business consultant, is signing up local units for a new conservative alternative to the Boy Scouts of America called Trail Life USA, after the BSA, in the most contentious change of membership policy in their 103-year history, opened their ranks to openly gay boys. Orr is part of a family that has four generations of Eagle Scouts. His older son recently earned his Eagle rank and his younger son was on the verge of doing likewise. But Orr said he could not stand by after the policy change. (AP/LM Otero)
The new organization's motto is “Walk Worthy,” taken from Colossians 1:10 “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
“Our vision is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens,” the organization's website states.
Though it's based on Christian and biblical principles, its open to people of all faiths.
“While the program is undergirded by Biblical values and unapologetically reflects a Christian worldview, there is also a clearly defined inclusion policy for youth,” according to the membership standards. “Accordingly, all boys are welcome irrespective of religion, race, national origin or socio-economic status. Our goal is for parents and families of every faith to be able to place their boys in a youth program that endeavors to provide moral consistency and ethical integrity in its adult leaders.”
Larry Wagner, who is a leader recruiting members and host churches for organization in Northeast Florida told WTEV in Jacksonville, Fla., “as a Christian, I see Trail Life USA as a way to be more explicit with my Christianity and imparting that aspect of it as they grow into manhood."
Wagner said that potential troop leaders agree to a statement of faith, that includes defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, according to the Jacksonville station.
“For the youth who are still exploring who they are or might be having a conception of who they might be, we make no such constraint,” Wagner said. “Come on board, walk with us for a while. We'll see where this leads.”
The idea for the organization came last September in Nashville, when 1,200 former scout masters, Eagle Scouts, parents, church leaders and other former professions with the Boy Scouts of America form 44 states gathered.
The Boy Scouts of America, a 103-year-old organization, sparked controversy last year when it lifted a ban on gay youth scout members. It did not lift a ban on adult gay scout masters. The new policy for the Boy Scouts also took effect Wednesday.
The Trail Life USA membership standards for the organization includes, “The basis for the program’s ethical and moral standards is found in the Bible. In terms of sexual identification and behavior, we affirm that any sexual activity outside the context of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful before God and therefore inconsistent with the values and principles of the program.”