‘Struggling’ boys continue to lose out when their unique needs are overlooked, warns Trail Life USA CEO Mark Hancock
BELTON, S.C.—The leader of a boys-only outdoor adventure program has warned of the consequences of what he says is the latest strike in the “war on boyhood.”
Trail Life USA CEO Mark Hancock spoke out after reports of how the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) has welcomed hundreds of girls to local groups since doing away with its boys-only policy last fall.
Hancock said the way the BSA move is playing out has confirmed fears that boys would be further marginalized. He referenced how in one media report, a BSA den leader said that the new girls had been calmer and easier to manage, while the boys were more easily distracted.
“Can you imagine what’s going to happen in that co-ed environment, where girls raise their hands to answer questions while boys squirm and poke each other?” Hancock commented. “In no time at all, the adults will be saying, ‘Why can’t you behave like Susie?’ That previously all-boy environment will favor the compliance of girls and, once again, boys will be told they can’t quite cut it.”
Hancock said this latest development is another move negatively impacting boys who, according to government statistics, are:
* three times more likely to be enrolled in special education
* four times more likely to be diagnosed ADHD
* outnumbered two to one in top-10 senior rankings
“Confined to classroom settings more suited to girls and denied rough-and-tumble experiences that help them learn and grow, it is no wonder boys are struggling,” Hancock said. “They are losing out and not developing as strong, capable men because we are not letting them be fully-boys.
“Weakened expectations and participation trophies have led to our culture producing unproductive narcissists. They are unproductive because we don’t sufficiently challenge them, and they are narcissists because we don’t let them fail.”
Since it was founded in 2014, Trail Life USA has been embraced enthusiastically by families seeking a faith-based, nurture-and-activity program based on traditional values. Today there are almost 30,000 members in over 750 troops across 48 states. The organization has seen significant growth since the BSA’s decision to welcome girls.
“Boys love boy-focused, outside challenge in hierarchically structured environments,” said Hancock. “They thrive there. They need clear boundaries and designated leadership. If it’s unclear, they will create this structure in a way that looks like rebellion or resistance or apathy.”
In contrast, Trail Life USA “offers challenging outdoor and character-building—accountability from mentors and peers—and leadership opportunities.”
Typically chartered by local churches, Trail Life USA troops offer a K-12 program centered on outdoor experiences that build young men’s skills and help them grow on a personal level and as role models and leaders for their peers.
Trail Life USA was described as “the now preferred organization for Christians” by Walker Wildmon, assistant to AFA president Tim Wildmon, in the organization’s recent “Reason & Company” video update.
The report also recommended Trail Life USA’s sister organization, American Heritage Girls (https://www.americanheritagegirls.org), for parents of girls. With more than 43,000 members in 50 states, the movement offers a similar gender-appropriate, values-based environment for growth.
‘It’s good to know that these new organizations are growing like wildfire,” said Tim Wildmon. “We say, may their tribe increase.”
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Trail Life USA (https://www.traillifeusa.com) is a Christian outdoor adventure, character and leadership program for boys and young men, K-12. Chartered through churches in 48 states, the program centers on outdoor experiences and biblical values that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers.
Trail Life USA CEO Mark Hancock