The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are time-honored American traditions for young men and women, but public perception of each organization has crumbled in recent years as traditional values wain and adherence to modern, progressive notions grow.
The Boy Scouts, notably, has been crippled financially by payouts to thousands of victims of sexual abuse and also fired a rather significant shot in the culture war by deciding to accept girls in 2017.
The Girl Scouts, meanwhile, has been long accused of close associations with the promotion of pro-abortion and culturally progressive causes.
As ABC News recently reported, both scouting organizations have seen their numbers dramatically drop since 2019. Membership for Boy Scouts of America programs has dropped by a flooring 45% while the Girl Scouts have seen their youth membership drop by 30%.
This decrease can, no doubt, be attributed largely to the pandemic.
However, with shifting public attitudes towards on both sides and the controversy embroiling the Boy Scouts, there’s no doubt that COVID-19 can’t account for everything.
You see, the openly Christian, traditionally principled brother-and-sister scouting groups Trail Life and American Heritage Girls have seen their numbers grow in this same period, and say their “huge increases in membership” as reported by CBN News can be attributed to growing public frustration with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
“On my honor, I will do my best to serve God and my country, to respect authority….”this is part of the oath for Trail Life USA, the “Christ-centered, boy-focused, character leadership and adventure organization” that is filling the gap for Christian families who have become disillusioned with the Boy Scouts of America.
“I really like being a part of it just because there’s a lot of fun like I love being outdoors, and I love camping and hiking and kayaking, and there’s a lot of that in Trail Life,” one of the group’s scouts, Ryan, told CBN News.
Scouts are pointed towards Christ as they pursue accomplishments on the “Periodic Table of Advancements” that are geared towards developing strong, capable, and principled biblical manhood.
“One time we talked about Christ being our Cornerstone and how we need to rely on him, and so I thought that that’s really important,” little brother Elliot, also a scout, told the outlet.
Clearly, the approach towards scouting is appealing to families across the country — Trail Life USA has seen an impressive 70% growth over the last year with now 30,000 members across all 50 states.
“We want our sons to be raised in an organization that’s male-focused, that helps them to understand and to be encouraged to grow into winning and godly men,’” the organization’s CEO, Mark Hancock, told CBN News.
Hancock said that while BSA always had a “magic sauce” for “how to grow boys into good strong men,” that the group has since lost its way.
This is where Trail Life comes in, and the mission is inextricably linked to its Christian moral basis.
“It’s who we are, and it’s really what makes us different,” Hancock explained. “If we cease to do that there’s no reason for us to exist. And we also in our hearts, we want to see the Kingdom grow. We want to see boys impacted for Christ.”
“We want to see boys and families making decisions for Christ,” he explained. “And we see that basically on a daily basis.”
Trail Life’s sister organization, American Heritage Girls, has the very same mission.
“American Heritage Girls is Christ-centered, which differentiates us from other scouting organizations,” the group’s founder Patti Garibay told CBN News.
Garibay said that the organization was founded in the mid-90’s as the Girl Scouts add an asterisk to part of their pledge, “On my honor, I will try: to serve God**,” to allow for troop members to substitute for the word “God” according to their own beliefs.
“A character development program has to be based on something,” Garibay explained. “Morality’s involved, and so what would it be based on if God was now removed or allowed to be flexible.”
“And so I tried to make changes locally in the Girl Scouts and also on the national level, but to no avail, and as a result, the Lord called me to start American Heritage Girls,” she told CBN News.
As CBN noted, it is certainly the unabashed commitment to biblical faith that sets Trail Life and American Heritage Girls apart in “a world competing for the attention of girls and boys.”
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