NASHVILLE — A new youth character program established to serve as an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was unveiled on Friday during its first national conference in Tennessee.
Over 1,200 former Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, former BSA professionals, church leaders and supportive parents from 44 states across the country attended the event, entitled “Honoring the Legacy…Raising the Standard.” Speakers included Arkansas Governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee and Michael Farris, the president of Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
According to reports, the unveiling of Trail Life USA was met with much applause and excitement from attendees as executives spoke about the new organization and presented its name and visual branding for the first time. Trail Life USA is stated to be “an outdoor scouting-like program designed for boys ages 5-17, which will focus on adventure, character and leadership.”
“The new group will have a strong inclusion policy for youth; all boys are welcome to the program regardless of religion, race, national origin or socio-economic status,” the organization explained in a news release announcing the convention. “However, adult leaders in the program will be Christian and must sign a statement of faith and submit to background checks.”
According to the Trail Life USA website, members will be required to live a life of moral purity as outlined in the Scriptures.
“The basis for the program’s ethical and moral standards are 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,” it explains. “Within these limits, we grant membership to adults and youth who do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind, or engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the program.”
“Our vision will be to become the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens,” said chairman John Stemberger, a former Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster. “Parents are going love the new outdoor adventure program and we are very excited to be part of this next chapter in the history of scouting in America.”
As previously reported, Stemberger had announced earlier this year that he was planning to formulate a Christian alternative to the scouts following the organization’s vote to allow openly homosexual boys serve as members. In May, over 60 percent of voting members cast their ballot in favor of altering BSA’s policy, which barred “open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
However, the group said that members would still be prohibited from engaging in sexual activity of any kind while serving in the Scouts.
“The resolution also reinforces that scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of scouting age is contrary to the virtues of scouting,” officials wrote in a statement.