The Boy Scouts of America's decision last year to adopt a new policy allowing openly gay youths to join the organization sparked the creation of a competitor called Trail Life USA, a Christian organization that describes itself as an "adventure, character, and leadership movement for young men."
Trail Life USA logo
What was unclear at its inception, though, was just how successful this new-found scouting group would be in attracting members to its ranks.
But according to Mark Hancock, chief executive office of Trail Life USA, his organization has monumentally grown over the past year.
Hancock told the Christian Post this week that the faith-based organization currently has 14,492 members in 47 states forming a total of 460 troops — and hundreds of new members are joining every week.
Plus, an additional 300 prospective troops are currently under review.
"We would have grown a lot faster if we weren't so strict with our chartering requirements, but we're building a strong foundation of troops that are aligned with the Christian principles we uphold," Hancock said.
The central question, of course, is how many of the 14,492 members came to Trail Life USA as a direct result of the Boy Scouts of America's policy change. While it's difficult to discern if that's truly the reason, about half of these Trail Life USA members were former Boy Scouts, according to the Post.
Hancock added, though, that the other half of the boys who joined the ranks had not previously been scouts.
"Initially people would say that is what got us launched [the Boy Scouts decision], because a lot of people were not happy with that decision and were looking for an alternative," he said. "As it turned out, though, almost 50 percent of our troops have never been involved with Boy Scouts of America."
While the 14,492 is certainly impressive, the Boy Scouts of America still has about 2.6 million members, despite citing a nearly 6 percent member decline between 2012 and 2013; the data for 2013 to 2014 is not yet available.
Watch an explanation of how Trail Life USA works below:
The new scouting alternative, which relies upon biblical values, describes itself as an organization that seeks to equip young men to reach success in their personal lives.
"Trail Life USA is a Christian adventure, character, and leadership program for young men. The K-12 program centers on outdoor experiences that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers," a description reads. "Living the Trail Life is a journey established on timeless values derived from the Bible."
Learn more about the group here.
(H/T: Christian Post)