Trail Life USA’s Guiding Principles
SIX PROGRAM EMPHASES
Program emphases are “big ideas” that run through our program because our movement considers them indispensable to helping boys become great Christian men.
- Wisdom – The skill of putting knowledge to proper use. Facts are like tools—they do their best work in the hands of a master craftsman.
- Teamwork – The way people working together can to do more than working alone.
- Heritage – The parts of present opportunities and future goals that were made in the past. Americans have a rich heritage built with courage and curiosity, sacrifice and spirituality.
- Leadership – Giving the gift of guidance to others. True leadership begins when the arrogance of power gives way to a sense of responsibility.
- Character – The four selves: self-respect, self-control, self-reliance, and self-worth. They are the four poles of the tent—let one fall and the tent sags, let two fall and the tent collapses.
- Faith – Belief in God that provides the inner strength and confidence that leads to righteous actions based on biblical truth, regardless of temptations or circumstances.
The three aims are what Trail Life hopes to achieve in the lives of boys through use of the nine program methods guided by the six program emphases.
- Character – Character may be defined as the Four Selves, namely self-respect, self-control, self-reliance and self-worth. Character is related to the word characteristic, which is not at all surprising; character gives each person a perspective on the God who made us all in his image.
- Fitness – There are four elements of fitness; mental, emotional, moral and physical. All four benefit from a good diet, exercise and plenty of rest. But is this equally true of moral fitness? Consider the harm feeding on pornography can do. And how much exercise do your morals get when you put difficult decisions off on others! Your morals do not get enough rest when you fail to recognize leadership in others and delegate responsibility as needed.
- Citizenship – To be a good citizen, you must live in the past, present and future. The Past is Heritage, which includes such important elements as the Image of God within you, the Bible, and great thinkers and leaders who struggled through the centuries to equip you to live a free and purposeful life. The present is Opportunity, which is your ability to shape the here and now through your actions. The Future is a course you chart through the decisions you make today using your Vision. You are a citizen of your family, your community, your Troop, your state, your nation, your world, and most importantly the Body of Christ.
Each of these three aims is covered in a chapter of the Trailman Handbook. You’re urged to read these chapters for a more in-depth understanding. These three aims were not chosen at random; character is the desire to move, fitness is the energy needed, and citizenship is the plotted course.
The methods of Trail Life USA work well together because they return boys to an environment where comfort or misery, safety or danger, and success or failure depend on skills they can master. It is an environment where fathers can teach their sons skills that are still relevant. The Trail Life is one of the last refuges of capable self-reliance where boys can learn important lessons about life through experiential learning. Our nine methods are:
- Patrols – A patrol is a group where every boy can play an important role, make friends, and learn the connection between preparation and success. A patrol is a small family within the larger family of the Troop.
- Leadership – When boys realize that a leader gives the gift of guidance, they will give it without arrogance and receive it with gratitude. Boys learn that they not only are called upon to lead others but to also lead themselves. Self-control is the first great leadership skill.
- Advancement – The recognition of personal and practical growth to reward past performance and predict future success.
- Adult Association – Trail Leaders are the greatest role models in the world. They give freely of themselves to help great boys become great men through purposeful fun.
- Outdoors – Blessed with equal measures of beauty and challenge, peace and excitement, God’s great out-of-doors offers uniquely fulfilling experiences for all. It is an environment that encourages the sharing of skills and heritage.
- Uniforms – The uniform and standard (staff) display the goodwill of Trail Life USA to the community. They represent the family bonds of the Trail Life and are a canvass upon which boys tell the story of their unique achievements, interests and goals.
- Opportunity – Placing young people in an exciting and challenging environment lets them make discoveries about the world and themselves that cannot be learned any other way. We cannot guarantee what you’ll find or when you’ll find it, but if you don’t get out and look, we guarantee that you’ll never find it.
- Standards – The Trailman Oath and Trailman Motto clearly state what is expected of a Trailman in thought, word and deed.
- Spiritual Development – The ultimate health and safety issue that we can address is protecting the image of God within us. Spirituality is the key to a fully-realized manhood.