Trail Life USA (TLUSA) is an interdenominational Christian outdoor adventure and character-development program for young men. Less than a year from its official launch, the program is experiencing incredible growth. More than 10,000 members in 47 states are involved in TLUSA troops, many of them at PCA churches.
The TLUSA vision is “to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.” The organization has a statement of faith and key values including purity, service, stewardship, and integrity. TLUSA encourages its members to “Walk Worthy,” the organization’s motto based on 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.”
“[Troops are] church owned and operated,” says the Rev. Kipper Tabb, a pastor at Perimeter Church (PCA) in Johns Creek, Ga., and a founding board member of Trail Life USA. “We help select its leaders, and integrate the troop into the life of the church, including mission trips, service projects, or other ministry.”
Hundreds of churches that have hosted Boy Scout troops, including many in the PCA, have felt their values and teaching to be in conflict with the Boy Scouts’ changing standards; specifically, that which prohibits any youth be denied membership on the basis of his sexual orientation.
“Our session unanimously voted to sever our long and fruitful charter relationship with the [Boy Scouts of America] in June 2013,“ says Benny Parks, ministry team pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian (PCA) in Birmingham, Ala. After much research, Briarwood decided to affiliate with Trail Life USA.
While charter organizations are required to sign on to the basic tenets of Trinitarian Christian doctrine, boys from all backgrounds, faiths, and socioeconomic status are welcomed. “We are Christ-centered and welcome children who may have parents who believe differently but who understand the program is led by Christian parents,” says Tabb.