Even though they weren't immediately able to insert themselves into leadership positions in the organization because the ban on openly gay leaders remained in effect, they knew—everyone knew—it was just a matter of time. Straight from the Leftist playbook, they had co-opted leaders in top positions and were now, they thought, in a position to remake scouting to their liking.
The only problem is that, while the BSA gives some appearances of being a top-down organization, it isn't. There is a national office and regional offices, and there are paid executives but, in the end, the organization is made or broken at the local level where parents either get their children involved or don't. I suspect the men who have been collecting six-digit salaries off the annual popcorn sales of the boys are about to find that out.
This weekend, I watched a streaming webcast of part of the inaugural convention of the organization that will likely, over the next several years, replace the Boy Scouts. Born out of the protest against capitulating to an increasingly evil culture, Trail Life USA drew 1,200 Eagle Scouts, former Eagles Scouts, and interested leaders to Nashville for a sold-out convention that both unveiled the new organization and finalized the work of about fifty concerned parents who were transforming the protesting On My Honor BSA into a new Christian alternative to the scouts.
Lest you think 1,200 is a small number, consider that they are but the part of the tens of thousands of followers of OMH that were able to make it to Nashville for the convention. And, that they came from 44 states including Alaska and Hawaii. It was also obvious from the unveiling that Trail Life USA has connections and is going to be a very well funded effort. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee gave the keynote speech. And, videos like this one were evidence that they were able to harness the talents of some top publicity and marketing firms:
The name itself was chosen from over 300 hundred suggested names that were narrowed down first by member surveys and second by lawyers (to make sure that the eventual name could by trademarked and wouldn't infringe on BSA copyrights). Then, those names that survived went through focus groups both of adults and teenage boys. Although I had hoped for something like the Boy Rangers, I think what they came up with will have wider appeal, especially among the boys it is trying to reach.
The new logo of the the organization also shows the effect of having been professionally created and focus-grouped:
Although the evening was centered around the announcement of the name of the new organization which had been kept secret until the convention, the group's leaders also introduced the basics of their new program which will be Christ-centered. While it will allow non-Christians to join and even allow boys who are struggling with their sexuality, it won't allow openly gay teenagers or boys who want to dress or act like girls. It will adhere to the Christian belief that sex is only appropriate between a man and a woman who are married to each other. I think this is a good approach. It doesn't exclude boys who may be having trouble with same-sex attraction and who could use good, masculine role models. But, it doesn't allow the open embrace of sinful and destructive behaviors either.
As I watched the program being laid out in its specifics, I was very impressed. It was as if someone took the Boy Scouts and remade it to address the needs of the world today from a distinctively Christian world-view. The program itself starts in kindergarten and carries through to age 25. The upper end is far past the age most character building groups work with, but it was pointed out that this is the demographic that really needs that few extra years of guidance before going off on their own. Of course, the groups break out by age roughly along elementary/middle school/high school lines. And, while the group is dedicated to forming men, the 18-25 section is co-ed, which gives both young men and women that guidance in an adventure setting that will set them on the road to productive, Christian adult lives together.
When I said that this group will likely replace the Boy Scouts over time, it's because the program seems designed for your standard Evangelical church. There are a lot of Catholics involved in Trail Life USA and the statement of faith doesn't preclude Catholics from taking part, but it does seem like the type of program you would find in a Baptist church. I say that in admiration because the Southern Baptists are least likely to continue with the Boy Scouts and the most likely to leave quickly. Trail Life is ready made for them. Other churches will follow, as will many Catholics. Having seen it, I think this would be a great group for Catholics to transition to in parishes where the sponsored scout troop isn't 100 percent Catholic.
Also, in case you're wondering, no the Boy Scouts don't have a lock on military-style uniforms or patches with animals on them. They'll be different animals for the younger boys and sharp-looking badges for the older boys. With almost all of Trail Life USA's leaders being Boy Scout alumni, they know what they're doing.
The motto of the group is "Walk Worthy" which invokes the trail as a spiritual metaphor. Seeing as the Boy Scouts have chosen to no longer walk worthy, it's good to see a group that will take the lead.
I will say that my son and I will not likely be involved in Trail Life USA. The death of the Boy Scouts has opened up more than one new possibility. While I know of at least one local Boy Scout troop that is moving to Trail Life, at almost the exact same time as I was setting up my subscription to the convention webcast, our bishop granted permission to set up a troop of the Scouts of St. George in our diocese. As it is a 100 percent Catholic program, I think it is the better option for my son. However, it was a choice between two great groups that I think are going to have a tremendous impact on the future of our country. I will discuss the Scouts of St. George in a later post.