When it comes to character building activities for boys and young men, a lot of people think of the Boy Scouts of America. However, Hall County also boasts Trail Life USA, a Christian-based scouting organization that connects their activities to Biblical lessons.
"It is a Bible-based scouting program. It's where young men can join and learn how to be men, young men, with an outdoor experience and all of it being Bible-based" said Rodney Presley, Troop Master for Troop 3723, on the Afternoon News Wrap with Russell Brown Tuesday. "All of the lesson plans with Trail Life USA has a Bible base to it, every lesson plan has a verse that ties what they're learning out there or in that environment to a Bible verse."
There are three troops on Hall County. Each troop is based out of a church. The trailmen participate in a variety of of outdoor activities, like camping and hiking, but they also experience science, technology and heritage activities.
The goal is to inspire young men to "walk worthy" - the organization's motto. "That's the main 'catch phrase' we want them to do. Be worthy men, Christ-centered," said Jay Hargis, Trail Guide with Troop 2717.
Trail Life USA is a fairly new organization, forming in 2013 after a former scout was unhappy with the Boy Scouts. And while there are similarities, Hargis and Presley stressed that there are differences.
"Everything being Bible-based, Christ-based, is how we're different," Presley said. "Each troop is completely owned by the charter organization - so our troop is chartered by Montgomery Memorial Baptist Church and they actually are in charge of the troop, they say what we can or cannot do on a local level." Presley explained the Boy Scouts works on more of a national level instead.
"If we decide we want to go to a gun range and shoot live ammo, as long as we have the proper adults with them and our organization says its ok and our safety areas are met, then we can go do," said Presley.
"It's kind of neat to actually have guys getting the chance to go out in the woods and do things that was taken for granted in the old days," said Hargis. "Now, so much of our society has become citified, but we're being allowed and able to be set free and train these guys in a lot of things. And it's Christ-centered... and we're kind of like an extension of a Sunday school classroom... we're an extension of the church."
Presley and Hargis said they took a pledge prior to taking their leadership positions with Trail Life confirming that they were Christians, Biblically centered and faithful. When asked how they deal with comparisons to and criticisms of other organizations, Presely said he thinks back to that oath.
"Having that in the back of my mind... we're unapologetic with what we believe in. We have the Bible to back us up. However they come, any kind of criticism is taken lightly because we believe in the Bible and what it stands for."
Each troop in Hall County has about 15 to 20 trailmen each. You can locate a troop or find out more information here