Trail Life USA CEO Addresses BSA Decision
1/31/2017 5:15:00 PM by: Mark Hancock

An Open Letter to Trail Life USA Members and Friends Regarding the Boy Scouts of America Decision to Allow Transgendered Boys to Enroll in Scouting


As I am sure you have heard, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has taken another step in radically changing its membership standards.

I want to accomplish two things with this letter. The first is to address concerns you might have about similar challenges that may come to Trail Life USA.

Many of you have expressed, privately and publicly, that Trail Life USA may also be subject to changing its membership standards. I want to assure you that our bylaws and standards, having been forged in the fires of this cultural battle, are secure against such changes. Beyond that, we were birthed with the conviction that the principles resident in our Statements of Faith and Values are beyond debate, confirming the very reason for the strength of our grassroots growth.

It should be noted that the BSA decision was not driven by legal pressure. It was a voluntary departure from timeless values they once embraced. Three years old and twenty-six thousand strong in 48 states, we will not neglect the principles and truths that brought us here and promise our good future. To abandon this conviction is unthinkable.

The second thing I want to comment on is our posture in this contrary environment.

I recognize that many of you would prefer that we not address this issue at all. I understand that. In fact, if you look at our public communications over the past two years you will see very little reference to BSA and the events that launched our cause, except in response to media questions. My personal belief is that Trail Life USA has been in God’s heart for a long time; the decisions made by BSA just moved us to action while that inciting influence faded.

While it may seem inappropriate to address these polarizing issues, speaking the truth in love – even in the shadow of certain criticism – is among the highest expressions of compassion.

We don’t want boys psychologically, spiritually, and possibly physically scarred by the confusing message being presented by the BSA.

We don’t want boys or girls subjected to compromising situations on outings in an environment where reasonable precautions are no longer enforceable.

We don’t want churches drawn into dangerous legal territory and forced to embrace what they believe is sin because they have a formal alliance with an organization that has no such beliefs.

How cold and uncaring it would be for us to say nothing.

We will have the opportunity and, as led, the responsibility to speak in defense of a generation being led astray. While we will be kind in our words, we will not be weak.

Trailmen are the best men I know. And, in difficult times, it is always the best men who rise up to protect a generation.

Let’s pray for discernment, season our words, and above all, remain committed to “ generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”

In Him for generations,


Mark Hancock, CEO

Trail Life USA



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Mark Hancock

Chief Executive Officer, Trail Life USA

Mark Hancock began his career founding a national advertising agency and running it for fifteen years. His conversion to Christ led him into ministry as a Youth and College Pastor, Associate Pastor, Homeless Ministry Director and Global Event Director for an international ministry, organizing events on five continents. He holds two Masters Degrees in the Mental Health Counseling field, having spent a number of years in private practice, and has taught at secular and Christian colleges. An award-winning writer and conference speaker, he serves as Chief Executive Officer of Trail Life USA and lives near Greenville, SC with his wife of 27 years and two sons.


Lee Spence From Simpsonville, SC At 3/27/2017 10:45:14 PM

Thank you for starting up a program to continue with the values of the old BSA program. I retired two years ago from the BSA with 33 years of service as a Professional. I wish you and the new program success. I will pass the word along to others. I never would have thought the BSA would give in

William From Pittsburgh At 3/27/2017 11:06:14 AM

As a Christian I value Trail Life as an excellent Christian youth organization. As an Eagle and formal adult leader, I reject the BSA new gay agenda. But BSA valued and respected all faiths, Where do those non Christian boys go now?

Don Schley From Madison, Ohio At 3/27/2017 9:19:41 AM

Fight the good fight Mark and thank you for standing firm for Godly values. Praise God, Don Schley Madison Ohio.

Lew Pringle From At 2/28/2017 5:41:31 PM

Please be aware that some of us don''t even know what a transgender is. I gather that it''s a boy/girl who says ""oh, i want you to know, I think I''m a girl/boy"" I''m an Eagle, OA Brotherhood and was Sen. Patrol Leader of our bunch at the 1957 Valley Forge Jamboree. I never met anyone with this problem.

Bill Snyder From Tallahassee, Florida At 2/24/2017 11:19:17 AM

Hiked the AT in 2008 with Eagle Scout who told me ""BSA has 3 G''s: No girls, no gays, no godless."" How quickly things have changed! Honored to support Trail Life USA! Onward! IN GOD WE TRUST

Kevin Thompson From Osseo, MN At 2/21/2017 6:45:56 PM

My son is an Eagle Scout with 5 palms, upon hearing this he said, well we can throw out Morally Straight form the scout oath. My thought is there is a better way to handle declining membership other than to change their values, that at one time meant something. So Sad.

Bruce V Baumann From Lake San Marcos, CA At 2/21/2017 12:37:51 PM

Both my son, Craig, grandson, Garrett, & myself are Eagle Scouts. My father was a Silver Beaver. Both Dad & I rec''d our awards from St. Paul Area Council, MN My son, Craig, and I are looking for an organization that upholds the BSA''s ""former values"" that we hold so dear.

Molly Jacobsen From Roseburg, OR At 2/21/2017 12:01:07 PM

We have three sons that are Eagle. A fourth was on his way. He is now out. When the scouts voluntarily choose to place themself above God by attempting to redefine God''s creation, it goes too far. The sex of a person cannot be changed based upon a ""belief"" or ""feeling.""

Brad West From Draper, UT At 2/21/2017 11:41:51 AM

I support and endorse the words here by CEO Mark Hancock. I have been a BSA Scout Leader for nearly 20 years and have resigned my post due to changes in BSA policy I can no longer reconcile with my faith. We no longer hear the words ""conviction"" or ""principles"" coming from the BSA.

Marcie From Delaware At 2/21/2017 10:10:37 AM

You desperately need a detailed, well-explained handbook as the Boy Scouts used to have pre 1970''s. Your New DE Troop 1 is youth group with camping. Boy Scouts is more than that. Hope you are prepared to deliver. If you want advice from the Green Bar Bill of Delaware let me know.

Edward Dominiak From Buffalo NY At 2/21/2017 9:05:01 AM

I was involved in Scouting from a child to an Adult serving our Counsel as well as a Commissioner. My Son is an Eagle. The local counsel purposely closed in fear that if the vote was no, they would suffer a throng of demonstrators. The only ones there were my wife and I...I resigned. It is not fair

Craig Prine From Polk County, Fl At 2/21/2017 9:00:03 AM

Simply stated & eloquently presented. I applaud your conviction to verbalize ""OUR"" convictions, and provide Biblical Guidance on how to approach this subject. The current generation needs Men of Conviction to explain and guide the ""Men of Tomorrow"", and this explanation will lend assistance. Thanks

Tim From Appomattox, VA At 2/21/2017 8:40:19 AM

Mr. Hancock, When I read about the BSA''s 2nd major change in their policy, my heart sunk. In the same breath my passion to see Trail Life succeed in my community has embolden me beyond measure. I really appreciate the reassurance in Trail Life''s stance against ungodly culture. Thank you TLUSA

Beth From Henry County, GA At 2/13/2017 2:03:58 PM

My son was in BSA Cub Scouts in first and second grades (now wrapping up sixth grade), but we left the pack when the BSA made their decision several years ago about lowering their standards. We have really wanted the opportunity to join Trail Life USA. Please come to Henry County, Georgia.

Jeff Way From Newport,Oregon At 2/8/2017 4:53:36 PM

I was so thrilled to hear from BCI America that there is an alternative program available to BSA via this wonderful program, I was a WEBElos Leader in The Small town of Canyon City, Oregon, My heart was broken when BSA chose to change their Standards, Thanks to Our Lord we now have an Alternative

Louie From Staunton, VA At 2/7/2017 3:39:53 PM

It is a privilege and an honor to serve young men and their families in Trail Life USA. Thank you and the entire board for your vision and commitment to Christ. The battle is won. The victory is ours. Proud to walk in that with you!

Les Crews From Kernersville, NC At 2/5/2017 11:47:32 AM

I have been asked twice in three days if I would like to be a part of this organization. Of course I feel strong conviction to do so as the gentlemen who asked knew that I would. After reading the letter from you, Mark, I have no doubt that this is where I am to serve. Thank you, God bless, L.C.

Bruce Edwards From Burlington, CT At 2/3/2017 4:06:48 PM

I, as a former scout in the sixties, am appalled by what has happened to the BSA. My son did not want to be one, in the 80''s as I was divorced and it wasn''t to be. However I raised him to be a Christian and he later became a Marine, and served with honor. I am praying for all of the churches.

SJG From Virginia At 2/2/2017 4:21:35 PM

Amen! Thank you so much for running an organization like this -- our son isn''t born yet, but we''ll be looking for a Virginia branch of Trail Life as soon as he can hit the trail!

Captain Jon Strydom From Islamorada, Florida At 2/2/2017 12:40:43 AM

I have been a Coral Reef Program Captain for Florida High Adventure Sea Base for 14 years. I own three boats in the program. Myself and at least four other Captains representing nine boats would like to offer our services in an identical program, based just a few miles from Sea Base. Contact me.

Mike From Texas At 2/1/2017 4:00:51 PM

My son is in the initial planning stages for his Eagle Scout Project - if not for the years of his commitment and effort to get to this point (collectively as a family) we would likely be pulling out. Time will tell where this latest BSA decision will lead however, those of FAITH already know.

Theresa From Anchorage, AK At 2/1/2017 3:24:23 PM

Praise God! Thank you for your leadership, courage, and faith in God! Trail Life USA has been a blessing in our lives, and I''m heartened by this message! Keep up the good work!

C Schrock From Missouri At 2/1/2017 3:08:14 PM

Mr. McDermott suggests that gay adults and youth are that way because of some trauma. Be that the case, they might benefit from inclusion with an organization that maintains straight ways in all organizational interactions. Pushing them aside only reinforces the trauma and hurts their recovery.

Greg Cranmer From NM At 2/1/2017 1:34:43 PM

All I can say is that we need to stand ready and walk worthy with him (Jesus). The other organization that has been around for over a century has lost touch with what is important to so many youth and parents of today. I fell in love with this organization at EQUIP and have never turned away.

Patty From Utah At 2/1/2017 12:45:28 PM

I am the founder and my husband director, of Standing With Boys, an NGO working in Africa. The purpose of the program is to teach boys how to become young men of Conscience, Character and Courage; a concept is sorely lacking in the BSA. Bravo to you and your leadership. They you be blessed in yo

Shayne Gardner From Arizona At 2/1/2017 10:58:11 AM

God bless you Mark and Trail Life USA!

john lacourse From taylors, sc At 2/1/2017 9:36:58 AM

thanks for your statements Mark. I truely believe the mission of TLUSA and glad it is beyond reproach. I''m glad my impresionable Mountain Lions will not have to deal with this issue at campouts/overnighters or in our mtgs. Blessings, john 20:29

Brian Kramer From Wyandotte, MI At 2/1/2017 12:05:56 AM

As a former Eagle Scout, I am horrified by what the Boy Scouts have become. And I am very grateful I have found Trail Life for my kids....God bless

Michael McDermott From Left Coast At 1/31/2017 9:17:03 PM

BRAVO - About Time ""Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that''s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in their childhood - molestation by a parent or an authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult"" Author Tammy Bruce

Delynn From Utah At 1/31/2017 7:02:13 PM

I''m impressed with your courage, leadership and your commitment to doing the right thing in the face of challenges contrary to nature and nature''s God. God bless you.

Ron lazen From GA Troop 0413 At 1/31/2017 6:54:14 PM

Thank you for the open letter. The standards change reinforces my decision that leaving the other organization as a very correct one...we are the premier youth leadership organization in America today.

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Convention Release: John Stemberger, Mark Hancock, and Todd Starnes
9/3/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Join The Trail - GROW
9/2/2016 3:47:32 PM  by: Staff

Join The Trail: PROMOTE
8/30/2016 1:49:04 PM  by: Staff

The Guidon Program
8/29/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, Dir. of Program/Compliance

Join The Trail: PLAN
8/26/2016 5:09:14 PM  by: Staff

Meet the Staff: Rob Green
8/26/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

What BOLD and COURAGEOUS Trailmen Ask For
8/24/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

What Does Trail Life Mean To You?
8/23/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Pastor Ronnie Floyd of the Southern Baptist Convention Addresses Trailmen
8/22/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Life USA and Operation Christmas Child
8/19/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Dr. James Dobson Greets Trailmen at 2016 Parent and Leader Convention
8/18/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Motto: Walk Worthy
8/17/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Guest: Paul Farrell

Trail Life USA Strengthens its Association with MCCS
8/15/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, National Program Manager

Health and Safety - Outside Activities
8/13/2016 11:01:27 AM  by: Richard Mathews

A Trailman is BOLD and COURAGEOUS... because God's got this!
8/10/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading: Guard Your Heart
8/8/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Value Added
8/5/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Guest: Don Lauer, COR Troop SC-9212

Warrior Games
8/3/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

How and When to Use the Trail Life USA Sign and Salute
8/1/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, National Program Manager

Meet the Staff: Seth Morrow
7/29/2016 9:43:05 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Are You a Reuben?
7/27/2016 3:53:18 PM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

Freedom Rangemen to Emcee Parent and Leader Convention!
7/27/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, National Program Manager

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading: The Dangerous Book for Boys
7/25/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Sometimes Goliath Wins (And That's Okay)
7/22/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Guest: Jim Mitchell, FamilyLife

Health and Safety - Poisonous Plants and Insects
7/20/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

The Woodlands Trail Branch Patch and Branch Awards
7/18/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, National Program Manager

Meet the Staff: Hanna Inman
7/15/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: David Abernathy, Solutions Coordinator

Work Worthy
7/13/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading: The Richest Man Who Ever Lived
7/11/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

A Visit To Camp Aiken
7/8/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

The Archbishop of Omaha Supports Trail Life USA
7/6/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

A Trailman Knows Freedom
7/4/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Paul Stubblefield, Troop Engagement Cor.

Meet the Staff: Eric Dickens
7/1/2016 12:17:25 PM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Trail Life USA CEO, Mark Hancock is Interviewed on FamilyLife Today
6/30/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Consistency Matters
6/29/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Guest: Paul Farrell

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading - Start Here
6/27/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Does God Hear Me When I Pray?
6/24/2016 12:00:52 PM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

Christ-Centered and Church-Owned and Operated
6/22/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

The Annual Troop Safety Program
6/20/2016 9:46:38 AM  by: Laura Burton, Program Manager

Meet the Staff: David Abernathy
6/17/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Health and Safety - Safe Meeting Place
6/15/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading - Bringing Up Boys
6/13/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Walk Worthy in Your Speech
6/10/2016 9:40:42 AM  by: Guest: Paul Farrell

Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability
6/8/2016 9:42:29 AM  by: Covenant Eyes

We Want to Hear Your Story!
6/6/2016 1:57:43 PM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Meet the Staff: Laura Burton
6/3/2016 10:04:31 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading: Wise Guys
6/2/2016 12:25:07 PM  by: Staff

Child Safety and Youth Protection
6/1/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading - Do Hard Things
5/30/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

What Is It Like To Be a Trailblazer?
5/27/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Keeping Boys Interested and Involved
5/25/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

Faith Activities Focus: Trail Life USA's Band of Brothers Program
5/23/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Laura Burton, National Program Manager

The Trail Life USA Health and Safety Guide
5/18/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Richard Mathews

Trail Life USA Recommended Reading - The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood
5/16/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girl Troops Serve at Our Nation's Capital
5/14/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Guest: Trailman, Troop VA-0412

Lift Your Eyes
5/13/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

Volunteer Driven
5/11/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Rob Green, Director of Field Operations

The Importance of Games and Icebreakers
5/9/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Hanna Inman, Solutions Coordinator

Heart & Soul Candies Brings Exciting New Troop Fundraising
4/28/2016 10:35:17 AM  by: Staff

Camp Glorieta & Trail Life USA Summer Adventure
4/8/2016 10:17:45 AM  by: Staff

Ace Adventures & Trail Life USA Summer Adventure
4/8/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

A Day at the Georgia State Capitol
3/16/2016 3:31:32 PM  by: Staff

CEO Interview on Family Talk with Dr. Dobson
3/8/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

The Path is Made by Walking
2/6/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

Building A Culture
1/22/2016 12:00:01 AM  by: Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA CEO

TLUSA Solidifies Association with Manhood Journey
11/9/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Life USA Teams Up with FamilyLife
10/23/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

What is EQUIP Training?
10/3/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

First Freedom Award Recipients Honored in DC
9/30/2015  by: Staff

Covenant Eyes Agreement
9/29/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Letter of the Bishop of the Diocese of Bismark
8/4/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Boy Scouts' End to Ban on Gay Leaders...
7/29/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Boy Scouts Drop Ban on Adult Gay Leaders
7/28/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Meet Trail Life USA
7/28/2015  by: Staff

Final Decision by Boy Scouts of America to Allow Openly Homosexual Adult Leaders
7/23/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Life USA signs Memorandum of Ministry Alliance with the American Heritage Girls
6/25/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Alternative Scouting Group's CEO Reveals...
2/2/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Christian Scouting Organization Grows
1/28/2015 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

New Organization Offers Alternative to Boy Scouts
9/23/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Bill Bunkley Interviews Trail Life USA
8/1/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Leader Training Dates Announced
3/11/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Trail Life USA Continues to Grow!
3/4/2014 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Lutherans OK Boy Scouts and Trail Life USA
10/7/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

New Organizations - Not Just Another Sunday School
10/3/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Christian Boy Scouts Alternative Unveiled
9/9/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

World Magazine Covers Trail Life USA
9/7/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Boy Scouts Alternative
9/7/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff

Introducing Trail Life USA
9/6/2013 12:00:01 AM  by: Staff