Frequently Asked Questions
How will the national office of TRAIL LIFE USA handle so many troops so quickly?
- The charter and individual registration processes will be managed online and opened in manageable batches.
- National, Regional, and Area (local) structures are established for management.
- Program documents will be available at the start of the charter process so units can begin planning immediately for their own launch in January.
- Other resources (youth meeting plans and manuals) will be accessible closer to January.
How do I connect with people in my area if I am interested in joining a Trail Life USA troop?
- Join the forum on our website at www.TrailLifeUSA.com under the “Connect” tab. You will need to create a login name and password. Then you can locate your state in your region and see if there is anyone in your area of your state that has posted their contact information there.
- Check out the many Trail Life USA Facebook pages that have started to gather people together from different areas of the country. Perhaps there is one for your area.
- Write to our registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org so your information can be added to our database of interested parties for future contact if troops in your area are identified. They can also let you know if there is a Point Man identified in your area that can assist you now.
- If you are a homeschooler, see if you can connect through your homeschool association, as many homeschoolers support the Trail Life USA program.
- Perhaps someone else in your BSA Council or District is also considering starting a Trail Life USA troop. Perhaps you can link with like-minded people from your Council.
- Finally, you can talk to your own church or another church in your community about starting a Trail Life USA troop. Perhaps you could even serve as their resource to help them start a troop.
- Stay tuned – shortly we will have a “Find a Troop Near You” map available on the Website.
Will the national office establish affiliations with organizations like NRA, Red Cross, Alps Mountaineering, National Forestry, etc.?
- Yes, we will pursue affiliated relationships with a variety of organizations. We will use these partnerships to provide expanded program materials and options to our group.
Is the national office working with various camps to provide locations for troops to camp?
- Yes. We will develop a password-protected Strategic Partnership Portal through which we can provide our local troops access to Christian camps; national, state, and county parks; outfitters; and other strategic partner offers. This database will be searchable by category and geographical region. In the meantime, the Christian Camp and Conference Association is a tremendous resource to assist in finding campgrounds you can use in your state and region. See them online at http://www.ccca.org
What makes this organization different from Royal Rangers or Calvinist Cadets?
- Although this organization is specifically Christian, it is interdenominational with Charter partners representing Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox faith traditions. Plus, it has a strong focus on outdoor skills and camping. Our goal is to be the premier adventure, character, and leadership development organization for boys in the USA.
Why create a new organization rather than strengthening an already existing program such as Boys’ Brigade or Royal Ambassadors?
- Existing programs do not provide nationwide opportunities for boys to integrate Christ-centered faith development AND strong outdoor adventure and leadership programs across an interdenominational Christian platform. TRAIL LIFE USA is different in its methodology and delivery than other existing programs.
What is the end goal?
- Our Vision is to build men of faith and character who will become godly husbands, fathers, and citizens.
What areas will this program develop?
- Trail Life USA has 6 Program Emphases: Wisdom, Heritage, Teamwork, Leadership, Character, and Faith.
How does faith factor into the program?
- As a Christ-centered organization our faith is woven throughout the program without being necessarily “religious” or “churchy.” From religious requirements and youth-led outdoor worship to more in-depth discipleship opportunities, adult and youth members receive Biblical instruction and training in righteousness. As iron sharpens iron, so too will boys sharpen the faith of their peers. Adult leaders will both guide youth in the development of their faith and sharpen that of their peers.
Will the program be different if a Troop is chartered by a Catholic, Lutheran, or Baptist Charter Organization?
- From a faith perspective, each Charter Organization will oversee its own program and will stress its own denomination-specific customs and theology. All Charter Organizations will agree on the basic tenets of Christian doctrine as each Charter Organization will be required to accept a common Christian Statement of Faith. All leaders will also be Christian, agreeing to adhere to that same Statement of Faith.
Would Mormons or potential Mormon troops be welcomed in your organization?
- We certainly respect Mormons. However, Mormons would not participate in our program as a denomination because of our specific Statement of Faith which holds a belief in the Trinity, which is not in step with Mormon theology. The Mormon Church has issued an official edict that the recent change in membership requirements at the BSA is not at odds with Mormon theology, so Mormons as a denomination are not leaving the BSA at this time.
What about Jewish youth?
- Trail Life USA is a Trinitarian Christian organization with a Statement of Faith that includes those denominations that specifically recognize Jesus Christ as the prophesized Messiah of the Jewish scriptures. There are some groups like “Jews for Jesus” that recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but continue to hold to Jewish traditions and customs regarding feasts, etc. A Messianic Jew could indeed be a leader. However, a person of the Jewish faith would not be able to sign our Statement of Faith. Thus, according to our membership standards, Jewish churches and organizations would be precluded from chartering Trail Life USA troops. And those of the Jewish faith would indeed be precluded as adult leaders based on their beliefs. However, a Jewish youth could join. And a Jewish parent could be present at troop functions and even on certain camping trips, but not as a recognized or registered leader that would be providing direct leadership to the youth. And the Jewish denomination would not be recognized as a participating Christian denomination in Trail Life USA. This is the same standard currently in effect at the American Heritage Girls, which is our sister youth organization. Trail Life USA is not for everyone. For troops that want to transfer intact with non-Christian leadership, Trail Life USA will not be an appropriate option.
Is this organization limited to the United States?
- Initially, the focus of program development is within the United States. The organization depends on God’s leading to determine the long-term reach of its ministry.
- Americans around the world will be able to charter units. Foreign citizens can contact the national office for timing and information on running the program in their countries.
What are your views on homosexuality?
- We at Trail Life USA believe that homosexuality, or any sexuality outside of the Sanctity of Marriage under God between a Man and a Woman is sin.
- We do not allow a boy that is part of or advocating for the Gay Movement to participate.
- We do not exclude a boy who confides to a leader that he has experienced some same-sex attraction and wonders what that means. Same-sex attraction is not in itself a sin, as it is rather a temptation. It is what you do with that temptation in thought and in action that is sin. We would counsel a boy that he should not allow this feeling to turn into lustful thoughts or consideration of a gay lifestyle. We would also counsel a boy that we cannot always control our thoughts on our own, but that by the power of Jesus Christ that we have the power to overcome sin in our lives. We would graciously work with such a boy to have him put these thoughts in a Biblical perspective and to seek God’s purpose in his life. We would pray with and for the boy. We believe that with our Biblical understanding we are most strongly equipped to make a difference in a young man’s life that might find himself experiencing same sex attraction, as some psychological studies report a significant percentage of boys do at some point in their teenage life. We do not believe that the BSA with its current non-discriminatory membership standards is properly positioned to make a real difference to assist such a youth in a truly positive way.
Who interprets how the core values are implemented?
- The program itself reflects the core values and is approved by the Executive Board. In fact, it’s impossible to separate the core values from the program. They are like the carrots in the carrot cake!
Who resolves issues with differences in core value implementations?
- The Executive Board would resolve any core value issues, and would have the right to revoke a Troop’s Charter if the Troop does not adhere to those values.
What does TRAIL LIFE USA agree to do?
- Respect the aims and objectives of the Charter Organization and offer online, printed, and volunteer support resources to help in meeting those objectives.
- Make available training, service, and program materials to the organization and its Troop.
- Make available proven methods for selecting quality unit leaders.
- Provide general liability insurance to cover the Charter Organization, its board, officers, representatives, employees and volunteers currently registered with TRAIL LIFE USA. Coverage is provided with respect to the claims arising out of official TRAIL LIFE USA activities.
What does the Charter Organization agree to do?
- Each Charter Organization will own and operate their TRAIL LIFE USA troop. Charter Organizations may be churches or Christian organizations with a corporate structure and a mission that does not conflict with ours, and which can subscribe to and abide by our Statement of Faith. If the Charter Organization is a church, the troop will be considered a ministry and outreach of the church.
- Conduct the program according to TRAIL LIFE USA’s national policies and guidelines.
- Include TRAIL LIFE USA as part of its overall program for youth and families.
- Select and appoint appropriate leaders. See the document, “Troop Level Positions,” for a detailed explanation.
Must the Charter Organization be a 501(c)(3) organization?
- No. However, all Charter Organizations must exist (be registered with the state) as a legal entity such as a church, school, Christian camp, or home school association. Other organizations that have a mission instilling Christian character in young men that aligns with that of the TRAIL LIFE USA program and values may submit an application and request for consideration.
Will charters be required to provide their Fed ID # for new Troop bank accounts as it is with BSA?
- Yes. Troops must exist as legal entities, as described above.
Will the charter partner still own the assets of the Troop with Trail Life USA as it did with BSA?
- The Charter Organization (usually a church) will own all assets—NOT Trail Life.
What is the Commercialism, Fundraising and Asset Ownership policy of Trail Life USA?
- The use of membership or participation in Trail Life USA for the purpose of personal or business financial benefit is not permitted. No member of TLUSA may use the logo, insignia, terms of usage or descriptive marks related to Trail Life USA, unless the relationship or contract is authorized by Trail Life USA (national). The use of Trail Life USA’s logo, insignia, terms, descriptive marks or other intellectual property is not to be used as an endorsement of any commercial product or venture except as specifically authorized by Trail Life USA. As a non-profit organization, any funds or assets raised by or through Trail Life USA, its members, or Troops or Charter Organizations are to be used for the benefit of Trail Life and/or the Charter Organization.
- However, Charter Organizations, unit leaders, or youth members shall not be restricted from earning money to obtain their own unit equipment or to assist in fulfilling the charitable, non-profit mission or purpose of the Charter Organization, provided that all money-making/fundraising activities are consistent with the Statement of Faith and Values of Trail Life USA, and consistent with the branding and licensing requirements of Trail Life USA. Consistent with its mission, focus and purpose, the Charter Organization – not Trail Life USA – owns and operates the Troop and is the legal owner of all property, funds and/or assets of the Troop.
Will there be any changes in the obligations of the charter to a Trail Life USA Troop from what there were to a BSA troop/pack?
- Yes, the Charter Organization must be a legal entity (501c3 is preferred, and advantageous for them). Most are churches, so they meet that requirement, but so would most home school associations or Christian schools. It must also have a Christian Mission as part of their Articles/Bylaws and all appointed/selected leaders must be willing to ascribe to and adhere to our Statement of Faith.
How do I charter a Troop and what leaders are needed?
Go to our website at www.TrailLifeUSA.com and click on, “Start A Troop.” Read through the documents posted there, including, “How to Charter a Troop,” and “Troop Level Positions.”
What is the responsibility of the Charter Organization? How does TRAIL LIFE USA support it?
- Charter Organizations own and operate local groups, selecting leaders and admitting members as they deem beneficial to their group and within the parameters of the national policy.
If we combine the Navigators and Adventurers, do we need to have both a Trailmaster and an Advisor?
- Yes – that would be your 2-deep leadership for the combined group. But you are not required to have Trail Guides for Navigators and Adventurers in a small Troop provided you have that 2-deep leadership.
Does the Charter Organization Representative need to be an employee of the Charter Organization?
- No, the Charter Organization Representative should be a trusted member or associate of the organization that will be expected to appropriately oversee the organization’s community outreach through the Trail Life USA program but does not need to be a paid staff member.
Would there be a problem with our Church having both BSA and Trail Life USA Troops?
- Indeed, a Church or Charter Organization and a family must contemplate why their sons are involved in the program. Is it primarily as a resume enhancer? Or is it to build Christian character in a world where Christian standards are in decline? BSA and Trail Life USA programs are not necessarily used by parents as tools to reach the same goals.
- Trail Life USA does not prevent a Charter Organization from also chartering other types of youth organizations. Each of our Charter Organizations must decide independently which organizations they wish to associate with. As a guideline, we would generally encourage a Charter Organization to decide which program they are committed to, and provide that program their fullest commitment.
Is there a uniform requirement?
- Trailmen will have uniforms.
- Available now in Woodlands Trail Forest Green, Navigators Charcoal Gray and Adventurers Royal Blue:
Trail – An inexpensive t-shirt bearing the Trail Life USA and Troop Level logos.
Travel – A nice polo for use in traveling or for wearing to Troop meetings. Embroidered with the Trail Life USA logo and bearing the Troop level logo on the sleeve.
- Available in mid-2014
Troop – A formal uniform for dress occasions. Style to be determined.
Where do I purchase uniforms?
- They are available online at the TRAIL LIFE USA store. Go to www.TrailLifeUSAStore.com
How much do they cost?
- Trail shirts start at only $10
- Travel shirts start at only $22
- Troop shirts and other uniform elements to be determined.
Are hand-made or locally manufactured uniforms acceptable?
- No. Uniforms must be the official uniforms of TRAIL LIFE USA.
Is TRAIL LIFE USA a 501(c)3?
- Yes. The Application for Recognition of Exemption is pending approval from the IRS.
What are the Pre-charter fees, new Charter fees, and what will be the Re-charter fees?
- The original Charter fee is $325 per church/charter organization (all age levels are included in one charter); subsequent year (“recharters”) will be $195. These are the same fees that American Heritage Girls (AHG) charges. The $39 Pre-charter fee is a one-time fee collected by the developers of the Troop Track program. It is NOT collected by Trail Life USA, it is NOT refundable, nor is it applied toward the Charter Fee collected upon acceptance.
Are renewal fees for Troop charter pro-rated?
- This year the beginning date is January 1 and each troop pays charter fees for a full year. As a part of the chartering process, a renewal date is picked, and fees are prorated then, so if, for example, July 1 is picked, then $97.50 will be paid on July 1, 2014 (half-a-year’s renewal). Fees will have then been paid for 1.5 years, which makes the troop current to the next July 1 (2015).
Will there be a discount if a Charter Organization charters both an AHG Troop and a TRAIL LIFE USA Troop?
- If chartering a new AHG Troop at the same time as a new Trail Life USA Program, $50 off from each—meaning a total of $100 off—that first year.
What will the charter and recharter fees cover?
- Fees provide Accident & Sickness insurance for all members, plus liability insurance and administrative support for leaders and Charter Partners.
What will be the annual membership dues for youth and for adult leaders and when will they be due?
- $26 per leader, member or youth (same as AHG); fees are due as members and leaders register or reregister.
What kinds of fundraisers are available?
- Fundraisers will be coordinated at the Troop level based on state law and Charter Organization rules, and subject to an approved fundraiser application form. TRAIL LIFE USA will identify and negotiate with vendors to assure that their mission and products meet our high standards.
How is this new program going to be funded?
- The annual overhead cost of the program will be funded primarily through membership fees.
- Our economic model relies heavily on servant leadership of dedicated men and women who are motivated by their desire to further God’s kingdom. Paid staff members are present at the national level to fill a limited number of administrative and clerical roles. Someday, as our organization grows, we foresee having some paid staff at the Regional level as well, but we foresee the continuation of the servant leadership model as the primary means of delivery of a godly program to the youth of our nation.
Will the national office supply liability and accident insurance?
- Yes. National will supply liability and accident insurance for registered members (youth and adults) participating in TRAIL LIFE USA activities.
What legal defense options, if any, will be at the disposal of the Charter Organization should the need arise due to possible discrimination suits?
- Alliance Defending Freedom has pledged to defend TRAIL LIFE USA and its Charter Organizations in any constitutional or other challenges regarding our membership policies and or staff employment policies.
What happens if our local BSA Council threatens to take our troop equipment if we drop their charter?
- Former BSA General Counsel Richard Mathews has prepared a legal briefing on this. Please contact us directly at Legal@TrailLifeUSA.com if that threat is made.
If I make a donation, is it deductible?
- When the IRS approves a timely filed exemption application, exempt status is recognized back to the date the organization was created. Thus, while an application is pending TRAIL LIFE USA can treat itself as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). However, contributors do not have advance assurance of deductibility because the exemption is pending. Provided TRAIL LIFE USA ultimately qualifies for exemption for the period in which the contribution is made, the contribution will be tax-deductible (subject to IRS requirements) by the donor. Alternatively, if somehow TRAIL LIFE USA ultimately does not qualify for exemption, then the contribution will not be tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to Youth Adventure Program, Inc., dba TRAIL LIFE USA.
How much will boys of different age groups interact with each other?
- Boys will jointly participate in a common opening ceremony for all ages before separating into their respective age groups for the remainder of the meeting. Older boys will often teach the younger boys a badge or skill at meetings or outdoor activities. Other common events like service projects, family camping trips, and awards ceremonies will bring all ages together.
What is the planned activity level (sitting time vs. active time)?
- This program is designed to be active and fun. Leaders will encourage the boys to have less sitting time and more active time overall.
Does the program year follow the school year?
- Units are free to plan their own annual calendar starting and ending in whatever month they see fit. However, national annual charter and membership dues will be due on the dates set by the national office. Most importantly, youth promotion to the next age level of the program occurs at the end of the regular public school year, typically by June 30th. This schedule allows boys to enjoy planned summer activities in their new age level program.
What are the leader/boy ratios for each level?
- For child-protection purposes, there will never be less than two registered adult leaders present with a Unit of boys. There will also be a targeted ratio of registered adult volunteers to boys at all levels. The ratio of registered adults to boys shall be:
- 1 to 6 for boys in grades K-1
- 1 to 8 for boys in grades 2-3
- 1 to 10 for boys in grades 4-5
- And no limit for 6-12 grade boys
How do we provide leadership with a small number of leaders available?
- You are only required to have leaders in place for Units that you are operating. So if you have no Woodlands Trail, or more specifically no Fox Patrol, then you don’t need leaders for those units or levels. If you have a small group, you can combine levels and units as needed within the adult to youth ratios above. So for example, if you only have 6 boys from K-3, you could combine the Fox and Hawk Patrols with just one Ranger and One Trail Guide serving as two-deep leadership. In this case, the Ranger is also doubling as the 2nd leader for the two-deep leadership for this patrol in his Unit.
- For a small group, you could combine the Navigators and Adventurers together with the Trailmaster and Advisor serving as two-deep leadership with no Trail Guides (assistant leaders).
- This does get a bit complicated, so we will need to produce a more detailed outline. But for now, a small Troop could run with 4 unrelated people in required charter positions (with the COR serving also as Chaplain), 1 Trailmaster and 1 Advisor overseeing a joint Navigators and Adventurers Group, and 1 Ranger with 1 or 2 Trail Guides serving a joint Fox, Hawk, Mountain Lion group. In that way, a small group could serve a K-12 program with 8 total leaders.
Who can be a Woodlands Trail boy, Navigator, or Adventurer?
- All boys ages 5 through 17 are welcome irrespective of religion, race, national origin, or socio-economic status. We welcome boys whose parents are seeking a faith-based outdoor adventure program that places an emphasis on character development, leadership, and moral purity, and who aspire to live in accordance with the values expressed in the Motto and Oath. Boys must agree to the Code of Conduct expressed on the Youth Member Application.
- See our Membership Standards.
What ages are the programs?
- Foxes: Kindergarten and at least 5 years old by October 31st
- Hawks: 2nd Grade and at least 7 years old by October 31st
- Mountain Lions: 4th Grade and at least 9 years old by October 31st
- Navigators: 6th Grade and at least 11 years old by October 31st
- Adventurers: 9th Grade and at least 14 years old by October 31st
Exceptions to the above requirements may be made on a case-by-case basis by consensus of the Troop Committee.
How can my son become a member?
- Contact your local Troop for instructions. Also, see “How do I find a Troop in my area?” above.
Who can be registered adult leaders?
- Christian men and women who sign and abide by the membership standards and the organization’s Statement of Faith may become adult leaders. All leaders must be at least 21 years old with the exception of Trail Guides, who must be at least 18 years old.
Is a Troop’s membership limited to youth of the same denomination?
- National does not restrict youth membership in this manner, but a local Charter Organization may tighten TRAIL LIFE USA’s membership standards, making them more restrictive provided that such standards are consistent with TRAIL LIFE USA’s membership standards; however, it may not loosen TRAIL LIFE USA’s membership standards.
Is it possible for a boy to go through the program alone if no troop is close? (Similar to AHG’s Trailblazer or BSA’s Lone Scout programs)
- We do anticipate this option. It is in development at this time.
What if we want to dual register our boys in BSA so they can continue to work on their Eagle Rank, plus register them in Trail Life USA?
- As these types of arrangements are further considered, it is possible that BSA or Trail Life USA or both may need to set up certain criteria regarding such “dual” registration in order to accommodate real life concerns such as insurance coverage and program separation for purposes of maintaining program integrity.
- Regarding a BSA Scout that joins the Trail Life USA program, there is a limitation on transfer of ranks and achievements for recognition within the Trail Life USA program. Specifically, there would only be ONE OPPORTUNITY provided to transfer into Trail Life USA and receive recognition for prior work accomplished in BSA. That opportunity is provided on the day that a boy submits an application for membership with Trail Life USA. Once a BSA Scout joins and is recognized in his Trail Life USA Troop for his prior achievements, his joining record is established and that is the record that he must work with from that point forward. Additional work completed in the BSA program cannot be transferred in later and a Scout cannot receive “double credit” for work that is completed during his continuous involvement in the separate BSA program after he has created his joining record in Trail Life USA. For example, additional merit badges earned or service hours booked in the BSA program will not also be credited in the Trail Life USA program.
- In honoring the legacy of the BSA, we have worked graciously to make such recognition possible in Trail Life USA. However, it would become counterproductive after a Scout joins and becomes a Trailman for him to have continuing considerations of whether it would be easier or quicker to earn an achievement in one program versus the other. It may also be theologically confusing for a boy to be preparing to leave BSA to commit to life as a Trailman at Trail Life USA, while continuing to pursue secular recognition in BSA.
- If a boy wants to pursue both advancement programs, he must do so independently after registering in both programs. If a boy is not fully prepared to commit to the Trail Life USA program, it might be more advisable for the boy to remain in the BSA until such time as he is prepared to commit his focus and attention fully on his life as a Trailman.
How much time will I need to prepare for leading a meeting?
- The program is designed for ease of administration by leaders, particularly at the Woodlands Trail level, where meeting plans are provided. It is estimated that meeting preparation will require approximately 30 minutes of study, exclusive of gathering necessary materials. Of course, this estimate would not apply to “Hit the Trail!” and other special outings.
- Older levels require more youth leadership and therefore less direct preparation by leaders.
Do leaders have to be members of the Charter Organization?
- This restriction is determined by the Charter Organization’s Institutional Head (in the case of a church, the Senior Pastor) who has the authority and responsibility to select and appoint adult leaders consistent with TRAIL LIFE USA standards and policies.
What is the structure/plan for boy leadership?
- Boy leadership begins in earnest at the Navigators level (grades 6-8) and reaches its peak in the Adventuring level (grades 9-12). Boys have opportunities to develop leadership skills at all levels by teaching younger levels, leading a skill session, or planning an activity. Advanced leadership opportunities are available at the Adventuring level in the optional Vanguard program.
How much parent involvement is there?
- Parents are encouraged to take an active role in their son’s program, whether by attending meetings, completing in-home activities, teaching a specific skill at an outing, or just providing encouragement. Foxes (youngest members of the Woodlands Trail program) are required to have at least one parent in attendance at all meetings.
Will there be adult advancement/recognition?
- As of this time, there is no adult advancement option under consideration. However, adults who hold BSA’s Eagle Scout Rank may quickly be recognized as earning TRAIL LIFE USA’s highest achievement, the Freedom Award, by providing service to TRAIL LIFE USA.
Are there ongoing educational opportunities available to leaders?
- Adults volunteer for individual positions within troops. Each position involves being selected, appointed and trained (position-specific). Continuing education will be available for adults in areas such as (but not limited to) pioneering skills, outdoor activities, service to boys with special needs, becoming godly men, and general development of one’s faith.
What is provided?
- National will offer an online Help Center with program support.
Will official trips have to be approved?
- Only by the Troop Committee unless the Charter Organization chooses to require approval at the Charter Organization level.
Will there be a tour permit filed for trips?
Will there be a form of “youth protection” training?
- Yes. This “Child Safety Youth Protection Training” program will roll out before January 1, and will be required as part of the adult leader application process. All adults and youth will have the opportunity to view the online training (even those not holding any formal position).
What kind of training is there for adult leaders?
- The TRAIL LIFE USA Training Team is currently developing training modules. Initial modules will be available for the official program launch on January 1, with additional modules to follow during 2014.
Will BSA Training transfer to TRAIL LIFE USA?
- Possibly, however, this will not include the Child Safety Youth Protection training.
Will AHG Registration and Training transfer to TRAIL LIFE USA?
- No. Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls are separate organizations with separate records, contracts, insurance, and liability. Trail Life USA volunteers must complete membership application, background check, and Child Safety Youth Protection training that are specific to Trail Life USA.
Will there be online services for self-help and training?
- Initial trainings will include youth protection and quick-start training. Other training modules will rollout as completed early next year.
Will there be youth training?
- Yes. Youth training is a cornerstone of the program.
What training is there for boys to learn leadership skills?
- Leadership is one of the core values of the program, and age-appropriate opportunities exist at all levels. Programs for older youth interested in furthering these skills are in development and include advanced courses as well as the Vanguard program.
What is the relationship between the Troop and the Charter Organization?
- The Charter Organization owns the Troop and its assets. Our model is a true partnership, and the Charter Organization Representative is expected to be an active liaison for both entities.
How does the management structure of the Troop affect me as an Adult Leader?
- The Charter Organization selects and appoints a Charter Organization Representative (C.O.R.) who serves on the Troop Committee as the liaison between the Troop and the Charter Organization. The C.O.R. (if male) may also serve as the Troop Chaplain.
- The Troop Committee Chairman leads the rest of the Troop Committee to govern the Troop’s operation and oversee its program.
- The Troop Committee requires a Troop Treasurer and Troop Chaplain.
- The Troopmaster also serves on the Troop Committee to represent all direct contact leaders.
- Direct contact leaders: Rangers, Trailmasters, and Advisors are overseen by the Troopmaster.
- Trail Guides work with their respective unit leaders (Ranger, Trailmaster, Advisor).
- All optional Committee volunteers (Camping, Service Projects, etc.) fall under the leadership of the Committee Chair. The Fundraising Committeeman reports to the Troop Treasurer.
- See more in the document entitled, “Troop Level Positions.”
Are any leadership positions reserved for men only?
- Yes. Due to the high emphasis placed on male mentorship in the program, the following restrictions and recommendations are in place:
- The Troopmaster, Ranger, Trailmaster and Advisors must be men.
- The Troop Chaplain must be a man.
- The Mountain Lion Trail Guides are highly recommended to be males.
- All other adult leader positions can be filled by men or women including the Charter Organization Representative, Committee Chair, Treasurer, and other Committee Member Positions. Trail Guides in the Woodland’s Trail Unit may also be women.
What about spouses serving in leadership positions?
- We have now removed all restrictions regarding spouses serving in any positions.
Can any of the Committee Members also hold a direct contact leadership position? For an example, could the Committee Chairman also be a Hawk Trail Guide?
- A person can only be registered in one official position, with the exception of the COR/Chaplain, and with the clarification that a Ranger can assist in a Woodlands Trail Patrol for 2-deep leadership. First fill the 4-5 required positions for chartering. Then fill the program positions as needed. Finally, build out your committee if you have additional capacity. However, any registered leader in the program can step in and serve as needed when it is necessary to provide 2-deep leadership at a particular meeting or event.
If we combine the Navigators and Adventurers, do we need to have both a Trailmaster and an Advisor?
- Yes – that would be your 2-deep leadership for the combined group. But you are not required to have Trail Guides for Navigators and Adventurers in a small Troop provided you have that 2-deep leadership.
What is the basic TRAIL LIFE USA organizational structure?
- A national structure is in place to support the efforts at the Troop level.
- The national organization is divided into six geographical regions to assist with delivering the program on a regional basis.
- Regions are further divided into areas, within which a volunteer can assist Troops (generally within driving distance of his home).
- The Area Team is overseen by a Point Man, who works with his/her committee of volunteers to oversee all facets of the program in that geographical area.
What are the awards for Woodlands? Navigators? Adventurers?
- Woodlands Trail – The Forest award for each level (Foxes, Hawks, and Mountain Lions) based on completion of activities in 7 branches (program areas).
- Mountain Lions are eligible to earn a crossover award as they finish out their Woodlands Trail program and prepare to move to the Navigator program.
- Navigators – Able Trailman and Ready Trailman ranks are earned based on completion of trail badges, leadership, service, and participation.
- Adventurers – Horizon and Freedom awards based completion of badges, leadership, service and participation. The Freedom Award is the highest award and requires the completion of the Majors & Minors Program and a Servant Leadership Project.
- Other awards – Religious recognitions and other awards will also be available.
Is TRAIL LIFE USA using merit badges? What are the requirements of each?
- Where the BSA uses Merit Badges, TRAIL LIFE USA uses Trail Badges. The Required Trail Badges (15) are already defined and in our Adventuring Manual which will be available for sale before January 1, 2014. About 50 more elective badges will be available then also, as well as an unlimited number of Trail Badges under our “C.L.E.A.R.” badge creation program.
Will TRAIL LIFE USA use “Trail Badge counselors?”
- A boy can work with any registered leader that will take on the responsibility. Troops will determine at each level which Trail Badge work will be presented at Troop meetings (more common in the Navigators Program, grades 6-8) and which ones will be done outside of meetings with registered leaders (more common in the Adventurers Program, grades 9-12). Certainly a leader could offer to serve as a Trail Badge Guide for other troops. These options for connection will be arranged at the Area Level. All Child Safety policies and requirements must be followed in all such Trail Badge work.
Do you have all the requirements for each level or rank advancement for the boys already developed? What are these requirements for each rank?
- Please see the graphic or video on the website detailing these requirements.
Will earning the P.R.A.Y. Religious Emblems be required?
- Earning it is one of several options from which a Trailman can choose to satisfy his Faith Building Activity Option. Other options are being developed.
By what age must a Trailman complete his Freedom Award requirements?
- A Trailman must complete his requirements for the Freedom award by his 18th birthday–or by June 30th following his 18th birthday, with the following stipulations:
- He must be actively enrolled in a high school program when he turns 18 years old (typically in 12th grade).
- When he turns 18 he must register as a “Registered Adult.”
- He must complete the child safety (“youth protection”) training.
- He must remain active in his local unit to his Advisor’s satisfaction.
- He must complete all his Freedom Award requirements including obtaining all signatures and turning in all paperwork by June 30th following his 18th birthday.
- He must complete his Freedom Award Board of Review within 30 days of turning 18 or by July 31 following his 18th birthday.
Can Eagle Scouts earn the Freedom Award?
- Yes. Eagle Scouts of any age can earn the Freedom Award.
- An Eagle Scout under the age of 18 may earn the Freedom Award by completing the following items:
- Provide proof of his Eagle Rank.
- Be registered in the Adventurers Program (ages 14-18) for a minimum of 6 months with a local unit or with the Area office if a unit is not available in his area.
- Be active in the local program or in Area events to his Advisor’s satisfaction.
- Complete ONE Freedom Experience while an Adventurer.
- Complete a Faith Building Activity Option at the Adventurer’s Level or provide evidence that such an approved activity was completed while in 9-12 grades.
- An Eagle Scout over the age of 18 may earn the Freedom Award by completing the following items:
- Provide proof of his Eagle Rank.
- Be a registered volunteer in the organization for 6 months or more at the Troop, Area, Regional, or National level.
- Provide a measurable contribution to the organization such as starting a unit, serving as a Point Man, etc.
My son is a 13 year old Eagle Scout. If he completes a religious requirement, a Freedom Experience, as well as six months of service, can he be a 14 year old Freedom award recipient?
- The Freedom Award is an Adventurers Program Award and can only be earned by Adventurers, which means that they must be in 9-12 grade. As an Eagle Scout transfers to the TRAIL LIFE USA program, once he is in 9th grade he will be automatically awarded the Horizon Award. He will then need 6 months in the program, a religious requirement, and a Freedom Experience that he completes while serving as an Adventurer. If he completes that while he is 14 years old, then it is possible that he could become a 14 year-old Freedom Rangeman. However, in TRAIL LIFE USA, we are not advocating rapid, check-box type advancement to get to the top award as quickly as possible. For example, our Summer Adventure experiences typically do not focus on advancement, but rather on fun and using the skills we’ve learned. We also have the parallel Delta Life Ministry Discipleship Program for developing our future Christian Leadership. So rushing just to get the Freedom Award at as early of an age as possible defeats the purpose of enjoying the fun and the richness of the program experience along the way. The Freedom Award is meant to commemorate the Trailman who not only completes Trail Badges, but also develops a habit of active citizenry over several years of High School life as he participates in several Freedom Experiences of the Majors and Minors Program.
Will organizations such as Corporations, Colleges and Military recognize the Freedom Award the same as the “Eagle Scout”?
- It is our hope that in time that the Freedom Award will be well-recognized. However, we don’t have any way of knowing to what extent the secular world will hold our top award in high esteem. We do expect that it will be held in very high esteem by Christian businesses.
What will be the approval process?
- The Woodlands leaders will track advancement for the boys at their level and report to the Committee. At the Navigators and Adventuring levels, advancement is completed by participating in a conference with the Trailmaster, Troopmaster, or Advisor, depending on the level and award, as well as a Board of Review by the Troop Committee.
Will the boys have a summer camp program?
- The TRAIL LIFE USA program is geared around adventure. Troops have the flexibility to plan and design their own summer adventure programs, whether hiking the Appalachian Trail, camping in Yellowstone Park, using outfitters to canoe the boundary waters, or tour the national capitol. With planning, a Troop could even do an international trip. Rather than summer camp experience that focuses on earning Trail Badges, we want the boys to have a FUN SUMMER ADVENTURE!
Are there multi-unit regional or national opportunities, such as conventions or camps, etc.?
- Area “Point Men” are being identified around the USA and some are setting up opportunities like these on the Area level.
New Program Elements
Why doesn’t the Woodlands Trail Program have more awards, such as belt loops or pins?
- One of the foundational concepts of the Woodlands Trail Program is to focus less on material awards and more on development of the boy himself. Just as Christ would have us focus less on material goods and more on our relationships with Him and each other, so too the Woodlands Trail Program is designed to shift focus away from minor awards.
Why are there no activity badges available for Woodlands Trail boys?
- Woodlands Trail boys work on Skill Branches that encompass activities and skills in a variety of areas to develop the whole boy. Specific activity badges are not necessary at this level.
Will special awards be included within the program?
- Yes. Teams are working on special awards such as those associated with Leave No Trace, special service project completion, or mastery of certain skills.
What kinds of badges are available for Navigators and Adventurers?
- There are a variety of Trail Badges available for Navigator and Adventurer level boys. The required badges for Ready and Horizon Trailman are already defined and listed in the handbook. A catalog of 50 to 60 elective badges is in development; most of those badges will be available by Jan 1, 2014 or sooner. There are also outside agencies that will be writing new elective badges this fall. Lastly, boys at this level may also choose to design their own elective badge using guidelines to be released this fall.
When will the handbooks be available and is there a PDF handbook available to Point Men or Charter Organization Representatives?
- Handbooks are available for purchase in the Trail LIfe USA store with anticipated delivery in early January 2014. However, a detailed video showing all facets of our program is on the TrailLifeUSA.com site. Point Men, who oversee Area volunteer support teams, will always have the most current info to be able to offer help to local Troops.
Area Teams/Point Men
How should a Trail Life USA Area organize?
- A Trail Life USA (“TLUSA”) “Area” is loosely defined as a geographical region in which Area volunteers provide needed support for local troops, generally within driving distance. An Area is the size of one or more BSA councils and is larger in rural regions and states with less TLUSA participation.
What is a Point Man?
- The “Point Man” serves as the volunteer administrator overseeing the “Area Team” of volunteers, some of whom serve on Area Committees, while others provide Commissioner-type direct service to the local troops. Point Men work under the guidance of a Field Director from the National Office. Currently Rob Green provides that oversight.
Should an Area team be established as formal legal entity or 501(c)(3)? What about fundraising and liability insurance?
- TLUSA Area Teams are permitted, but not required, to organize legally as they see fit – given their specific concerns, objectives, geography, and unique circumstances . Area Teams must follow these parameters, guidelines, and requirements:
- Where it makes sense, an Area Team can extend beyond a State boundary (particularly in situations where there are a “smaller” number of TLUSA Troops in a state). TLUSA National shall have the sole discretion to approve the number and location of Area Teams.
- Area Teams shall have Bylaws and Policies that are approved by National as being consistent with TLUSA’s mission, vision and policies, but Area Teams shall be unique and distinct volunteer entities, and are not authorized to act as agents or legal representatives of Trail Life USA, but exist solely to assist TLUSA Troops and Charter Organizations with respect to the TLUSA program.
- All members of Area Teams must be registered TLUSA adult members (at least 21 years of age) in good standing and must be in compliance with all TLUSA policies. Area Team members may not receive compensation for their TLUSA volunteer services.
- Members of TLUSA, Pointmen and/or Area Teams may not engage in fundraising activities on behalf of or in the name of Trail Life USA except with prior written authorization by Trail Life USA.
- Because of the legally required oversight, monitoring, accounting and potential fiduciary responsibilities that would be required of (National) TLUSA, Area Teams may not use Trail Life USA’s EIN. Although not recommended, if an Area Team wishes to set up a bank account, it should establish its own EIN as a separate and distinct legal entity from Trail Life USA, and adhere to all state and federal registration, reporting, and filing requirements applicable to the nature of the legal structure of the Area Team.
- When running an Area event, fees may be collected from troops to pay for the associated expenses. As an alternative to creating a separate legal Area entity with a checking account, a local troop could be asked to “host” such an Area event, and the funds could be run through their troop bank account. This is simpler and preferable to establishing a legal Area entity.
- Any monies raised are to be utilized solely for the purposes of assisting Charter Organizations, Trail Life USA Troops, members and prospective members, Troops and Charter Organizations in starting and supporting new Trail Life USA Troops and conducting activities for them consistent with Trail Life USA values, standards and policies. This may include the reimbursement of volunteer out-of-pocket expenses to conduct such activities.
- Area Teams shall not compete with Charter Organizations or Troops in fundraising for the Trail Life USA activities or operations of those Troops or Charter Organizations.
- Area volunteers are covered by TLUSA insurance; however, Area Teams that are established as legal entities are not covered insureds under TLUSA insurance.