Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family Broadcast

A Strong Place for Boys to Grow Up as Men

A Strong Place for Boys to Grow Up as Men

Mark Hancock described how Trail Life USA (was founded in response to the Boy Scouts decision to step away from their moral and spiritual foundation). He described how many young boys don’t have godly male role models today, and how Christian Men can step up to help fatherless boys.
Original Air Date: July 26, 2022


John Fuller: This is John Fuller and Jim Daly is traveling and asked me to share about dangerous legislation affecting marriage – expected to be introduced in the Senate soon. Last week, H.R. 8404, the ironically-named “Respect for Marriage Act,” passed the House with full support from Democrats and 47 Republican votes. Senators will be pressured to vote for this legislation, which runs counter to everything Scripture says about marriage. Time is short so please take action today. Contact your U.S. Senators, and urge them to vote NO on the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” a bill that seeks to redefine marriage. Jim will have more to share tomorrow but for now, stop by All the details are at    

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Mark Hancock: Well, there’s a great reason. One is do it for your son. Uh, you know, he needs a male-centric environment that celebrates who it is that he is, he needs to be surrounded by other men who share your values. And, you know, you can tell your son something all day, and then, you know, this happens all the time, they come home, and they say-

Jim Daly: (laughs)

Mark: “Oh, mister so-and-so said this,” and you’re like, “I’ve been telling you that for years. And so, so-

Jim: That’s never happened in our house. (laughs)

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: Golly, huh?

Mark: So here you are in this environment where, where there are men who are supporting the values that you have. And so that’s great for your sons.

John: Mark Hancock is our guest today on Focus on the Family here to share why we need to pay special attention to the young boys and teens growing up in our homes and in our communities. What kind of men will they become? Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. Thanks for joining us. Jim, we’ve talked about this before, why parents need to be so intentional about raising kids with the end in mind.

Jim: It’s all about the launch, that’s for sure. You know, when they’re hitting 18 and finishing school, they’re adults. And that’s the goal. And in everyday busyness of life, we tend to forget that. You know, we’re just trapped in the things we got to do-

John: Yeah.

Jim: and we forget about concentrating on how we’re gonna launch our young men particularly. We’ve covered young ladies yesterday.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, uh, we just want to really concentrate on this. You know, we get involved with their homework and all the other things, that’s all good, but how do we shape character? And sometimes, uh, we forget the most important task, or we save it for last. I say we got to re- put it right up there in the front of what we’re doing.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And we’re gonna cover that, moms, and dads, today. So you’re gonna want to lean into this and, uh, sit alongside and listen. Uh, our last episode, as I said, introduced the American Heritage Girls, a national scouting program for girls, and alternative to Girl Scouts in given kind of the woke direction that they’ve gone. They’ve really, um, kinda disconnected from their beginnings-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: and training young women how to be good, Christian women, right, and what to live for and what their identity is locked in. Today, we’re gonna cover the, the boy’s side of this, and I’m excited to do that.

John: As I mentioned, uh, Mark Hancock is with us. He’s the CEO of Trail Life USA. They’re a church-based, Christ-centered, boy-focused mentoring and discipleship organization. Uh, they’ve had a lot of significant growth, uh, since their founding in 2014.

Jim: Mark, welcome to the broadcast.

Mark: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Jim: Yeah, and tell me. Okay, so, uh, why did you do this?

Mark: Oh, wow. You know, in-

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: in 2013, it appeared that the Boy Scouts were beginning to choose a direction that we knew a lot of churches and parents just couldn’t, couldn’t follow. So about 300 volunteers across the country began to talk and connect through different social media, uh, forms and things and talk about what are we gonna do about this? I mean, boys need a character leadership and adventure organization that, that, that helps their, uh, maturing.

Jim: Yeah. What was happening in the Boy Scouts that caught those people’s attention, those parents, those dads? Uh, what was the alarm?

Mark: Well, the first flag that went up was they, is they decided to open the organization to open and devout homosexual boys. Now, of course, there’s homosexual boys throughout our entire culture. That wouldn’t raise a flag, but the challenges that that would cause for troop masters or scout masters in churches who are being required by the national organization to agree with something that wasn’t consistent with their faith was gonna cause, you know, a lot of trouble. In fact, churches would, would, it’d cause trouble for churches because it actually puts a threat on their 501c3 standing if they agree with an organization that has different values than they do.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: So we knew something was gonna be done. So these volunteers gathered across the country and began to talk about the idea of an organization that would kinda take the place of, of an organization that over 100 years have been giving us astronauts and, and generals and presidents, and, and, uh, civic leaders. You know, but they were lo- apparently losing their way. And the secret sauce that they had, masculinity and a biblical model, they were abandoning that.

Jim: You know, um, we talked yesterday, as we mentioned, uh, to Patti about, uh, Heritage Girls. And she made that connection, and they started Heritage Girls in the ’90s.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You’re sitting there in 2013, 2014, Boy Scouts are doing similar, uh, disconcerting things.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You decide to start Trail Life, and your son was an Eagle Scout at the time.

Mark: He was.

Jim: And that had to be hard. I mean, I mean, that’s really the, the mountaintop of the Boy Scout experience, right, becoming the Eagle Scout. I’ve signed a lot of letters to Eagle Scouts.

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: We have done that here at Focus, acknowledging their great achievement. How did your son feel, and what did he say to you-?

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: about the transition?

Mark: Well, it is, it is quite an achievement. And we point to that and see it’s, they’ve produced, have a tremendous legacy in that over the years, but I do need to correct you. I did not start the organization. We had all these volunteers who came together. We don’t point-

Jim: Okay, good.

Mark: We don’t point to a founder. These are-

Jim: Well, great. Appreciate that.

Mark: I have volunteers across the country.

Jim: But you’re sitting at the table.

Mark: I, I was there. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: Uh, but, but my son, you know, a- actually when he left the Boy Scouts, they sent him an email, and they said, “You know, you haven’t rejoined, and here you are an Eagle Scout. Can you tell us why-?

Jim: Hm.

Mark: you haven’t rejoined?” And he said, “Dad, I, should I respond to that?” And I said, “Well, son, pray about it. What would you want to say?” And he gave a simple three-word response to the Boy Scouts. He said, “You weren’t brave.”

Jim: Wow.

Mark: And I thought… Yeah, wow is right, ’cause you’re a father of two sons, and you realize that it’s, that a, that a young man who has put so much energy into this program, and it, earning that very, uh, respectable achievement at the time was willing to walk away. But that said to me as a dad, “Mark, you better be brave, because your son really values that.”

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And so that, of course, feeds into, you know, the, the difficult decision that we had to leave that organization. But actually being able to have that conversation with my son saying, “This is what we do. We, we do hard things because they’re right.”

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And, uh, so it, it was, it was, it was a great, it was a great lesson for me as a dad, and of course it was a great demonstration, uh, to just see my son’s faith in action.

Jim: Well, and I think, you know, one of the things, John, we want to accomplish is alerting people to the opportunity, um-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: of Trail Life USA and what they provide. And, you know, part of it is, you’re growing, you, you’ve been at it now, uh, a number of years, and you have a lot of… How many young men are active in the program?

Mark: We’re coming up on 40,000 members in all-

Jim: Yeah, so-

Mark: 50 states. Yeah.

Jim: All 50 states. And so the, it’s active, and we do want to introduce people because it is biblically based, it is Christian in its value structure. And that’s one of the reasons we want to stand with you and make sure that everybody knows about it. But in that context, let me let you describe what Trail Life USA does, and what you’re hoping to achieve in the lives of these boys and young men.

Mark: Yeah. Well, we’re a Christ-centered, boy-focused character leadership and adventure organization firm. Boys from kindergarten through, through 12th grade, and we’re active in all 50 states. Uh, over 900 churches have t-, have Trail Life USA troops. And we are using a male-centric environment, which is important for boys.

Jim: Shh. Can’t say that.

Mark: I know. (laughs)

Jim: A male-centric environment?

Mark: Yeah, we say crazy things like boys and girls are different. We actually believe that. So (laughs).

Jim: (laughs) I’d say duh, but, you know, I’m not a scientist.

Mark: Yeah. But but we recognize that, that the needs of boys and girls and, are different, and that, uh, boys need an organization that’s focused on their strengths, that’s built for who it is that they are as a boy. You know, boys are under so, so much attack. You know, it’s like boyhood is some sort of social disease that needs to be eradicated or something.

Jim: Toxic masculinity.

Mark: Yeah. All of that.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And so there’s generations of the discounting of, of men that’s beginning to show in our boys. It’s like they’re the canaries in the coal mine.

Jim: Uh-huh.

Mark: And, uh, they’ve stopped singing, you know, because of the, the culture, the way that it is handled. Boys, uh, is just really ch-… You know, now three times more likely to be in special education, twice as likely to have ADHD. They have fallen behind girls in every single academic category. The fastest rising statistic in suicide rates is boys-

Jim: Right.

Mark: from 10 to 14 years of age.

Jim: Yeah. Amazing.

Mark: I mean, boys are in trouble, and they need somebody. That organization for over 100 years that stood for boys just decided to leave that path. And now, uh, it’s not a boy-centric organization anymore. So Trail Life stepped into the gap and says, “We are a champion for boys. We believe in boys (laughs).

Jim: Right.

Mark: We think that we think they’re amazing creations created in the image of God,” and they need to be recognized for their differences.

Jim: I love it, uh, being a father of two boys.

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: But, uh, and we have some of the young men right here in the studio with us, John.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And we’re gonna get to some of your comments or questions, so be thinking about that. Um, l- let me ask you, uh, you have a story about a Trail Life troop member, or troop actually that leapt into action. I love these, these success stories.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But there was a forest fire, and they jumped in. Now, were their moms and dads aware that they had done this? (laughs)

Mark: (laughs) Probably not at the time, I’m sure.

Jim: Let’s go fight a fire. What?

Mark: I’m, I’m sure they heard the story.

Jim: What badge is that?

Mark: (laughs) I’m sure they heard the story afterwards. But they were out camping, and, and they noticed a red glow, and, uh, miles and miles from anyone who could do something about it. But the boys and the adults jumped into action and, and put this, this fire out that would have spread for possibly hundreds of, of acres.

John: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Um, be- because it would have been so long before, before somebody stepped in. So our boys are focused on, focused on that. We understand the outdoors. We have a, we have a, a, our, our world view essentials, and one of those talks about creation and, and respecting, uh, you know, the, the place that we live. And so they have, they have a love for the outdoors, so they jumped into action and made sure that fire didn’t spread.

Jim: I think it’s great.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: I wish I would have been there.

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: That’s the kind of adventure I would love.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: Let’s go do something.

John: (laughs)

Jim: Um, explain why you believe male role models and mentoring for men is essential, and even that is so loaded today because of, you know, because of people that abused kids. Let’s just say it. Speak to the mentoring idea, and then how you safeguard it.

Mark: Sure. Well, you know, that toxic masculinity is a pretty broad brush that’s just been painted on all, all men and the, and the next generation. So, so we’re restoring the biblical masculinity of men who can be trusted, uh, to mentor and, and, uh, and, and help boys along. You know, one out of four households, uh, for boys doesn’t have a father in there. It’s-

Jim: One out of four. I mean, hm.

Mark: One out of four, yeah. That’s shocking. And, and 78 percent of teachers are female. So for the most part, boys have, as a model, a female. Now, those single moms are doing a herculean task in that household, but that boy in that household doesn’t have somebody who looks like him who’s, who’s leading.

Jim: Right.

Mark: And then he goes to school also, again. So girls have these wonderful role models, and boys are just lacking these role models. So we’re restoring those role models and our leaders, and they’re all background checked, child safety youth protection trained, they have personal references from their church representative. Um, they pass the test. And there’s this wonderful brotherhood of men across our country. About 15,000 men serving, serving boys, uh, in through Trail Life USA. And they have this beautiful brotherhood where they’re holding each other accountable. You remember in the ’80s, we had this accountability movement, and you had to sit across the table with a guy and drink a cup of coffee and share your heart. That’s hard for us as guys, you know.

Jim: (laughs) It is.

Mark: But you put two men hiking on a trail next to each other-

Jim: Much better.

Mark: or the boys all bed down, and the gu- the dads are around the fires, and they’re saying, “Hey, listen. I saw the way that you spoke to your son today. How did you get a relationship like that with him?

Jim: Hm.

Mark: How can I build a…” And so that’s where these men are connecting, they’re mentoring each other, and they’re building each other. So one of the best-kept secrets is that we’re also a ministry to men, because the men in our program have this tremendous brotherhood where they’re, where they’re sharpening each other. Iron can sharpen iron.

Jim: You have an example of, uh, I think it’s a troop in Texas where that group-

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: really identifies the fatherless boys-

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: and concentrates on bringing fatherless boys into that troop.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: And then mentoring them. Speak to, to that specificity.

Mark: Yeah. We have a real heart for that. You know, we’s, we love the fathers and sons participating together. That’s a great way for dads to connect with their sons, but we also have a heart for these, all these boys without dads. And I was speaking in Texas at an event, a Trail Life event, and a man pulled me aside. He said, “You see that boy over there?” And I said, “Yeah,” and he says, “I connected him with that man over there, because he doesn’t have a father at home.” I said, “Wow, that’s really nice.” And then he said, “See that boy over there?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “I connected him with that man over there, ’cause he doesn’t have father at home.” And he just went on. And I’m, and I stopped and said, “Who are you?” (laughs)

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And he said, “When I was nine years old, my father passed away. And I ended up in a, in a youth boys organization surrounded by men who helped mentor me. And I told myself at that time that I would do that when I got older-

John Hm.

Mark: and make sure that boys had a dad or a dad-like.”

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And I honestly believe that any legitimate call to manhood must include a call to either be a father to natural sons or to be a dad-like to these boys, so many boys without a good, solid, Christian role model.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And I think any legitimate call has to include paying attention to those boys who don’t have that.

John: Well I sure appreciate the community you’re describing there. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, and our guest today is Mark Hancock. And we’d love for you to find out more and maybe to get your son involved. Uh, if you can, please do get your son involved in Trail Life USA. Call us. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459.

Jim: An- another concern you talk about is the character development.

Mark: Hm.

Jim: And again, this is the one that baffles me in this area, people that oppose what you’re doing.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I don’t even understand. You know, you’re trying to raise and help these young men become men of character, right? Honest, looking to do good deeds, which I applaud all of you for. It’s the right thing to do. And then you have critics saying, “Yeah, but it’s all rooted in that Christian thing.”

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: I, I don’t get that. What are they afraid of?

Mark: Yeah. It is, it is kinda shocking. But fortunately, we have enough parents who understand it. And even non-believers are choosing to put their boys into Trail Life because they recognize that it’s, it’s an environment that they understand good, traditional values, and they want to see their boys in a program like that.

John: Hm.

Mark: So in our program, all of our adults’ leaders a- agree to a statement of faith and a statement of values that does things like, talks about human sexuality and, and who men and women are, and what marriage is. But boys-

Jim: You’ve got to be kidding me.

Mark: (laughs) We do.

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: But boys of any faith or no faith at all are welcome to join Trail Life ’cause we love the fact that they’re around men-

Jim: Yes.

Mark: who are doing it, who are building character in a way that it’s hard to find anywhere else in our culture. And you used to be able to look at, look up… There were people to look up to. And now, you know, there’re sports stars and things like that, but even them, so many of their lives are suspect-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: their personal lives. And so, so our, the boys in Trail Life are surrounded by godly men who are holding each other accountable to the standard. It’s the ones that they agreed to when they joined. And in this male-centric environment when boys get to see, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” because they may not have that example in a household

John Hm.

Mark: And that’s how we build character is through that example. You can’t build godly boys without godly men. And so, so we, we love that, the idea of that male-centric environment, because that’s where the boys learn-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: how to, how to become a man.

Jim: And the truths in the pudding. You had a story about… I think y-… I’m sure you changed the name, but a troop member named Timmy. What happened with Timmy?

Mark: Yeah, well he was dropped off at a troop. Uh, my, my parents should be involved in this program, and I don’t know if they were just looking for a night out, or, or what, but, uh-

Jim: It’s okay.

Mark: But the, and the, and the leaders, they did struggle with him because he, he was, he was challenging behaviorally, but they hung in there with him because that’s what we do. We do hard things. And, uh, one, one night the, uh, the troop master got a call from Timmy’s mom. And she said, “You know, Timmy is praying at home.” And he said, “Okay. You know, what’s…

Jim: Yeah, right.

Mark: Is there a problem here?”

Jim: That’s the goal.

Mark: She said, “You don’t understand. We don’t pray in our household-

John: Ah.

Mark: but we would like to. Can my husband and I attend your troop and learn how to pray?”

Jim: That’s great.

Mark: And a few weeks later, that entire family was baptized in that church. Isn’t that beautiful?

John: Wow.

Jim: That, that is. It’s exactly what some are gonna say, “What? What?

Mark: yeah.

Jim: How can you have people praying?”

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, but that is wonderful.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: And I would assume that that family is a tighter, stronger-

Mark: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: better family than-

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: they were before.

Mark: And now they’re attending the troop with their son rather than drop him off.

Jim: There you go. So you’re staying in touch.

Mark: They’re building a family. Yeah.

John: Hm.

Jim: That’s terrific. Um, let’s speak to the boy energy issue, because, I mean, that’s part of it. I think, um, you know, and I wasn’t trained in education, but when you look out how boys have to go to school-

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: and they have to sit still.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, you know, they get a little bit of recess, but then you’re back at a desk. It doesn’t really suit us boys-

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: ’cause we tend to learn on the move. I remember Jean and I having a debate about how to do devotions with the boys.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And she wanted us to sit down at 7:00, and we start then, and we do 10 minutes of singing. And I was going, “That ain’t gonna work.”

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: You know? Let’s go outside, let’s roll in the grass, let’s talk about who created the trees and the mountains.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And you need, you n-… Boys need to be moving.

Mark: They do.

Jim: Not all the time, but some of the time. And speak to that difference in how, you referenced it, how the culture is trying to, and, uh, in many ways, trying to feminize boys-

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: to learn to behave, to act like girls.

Mark: Yeah. Well face it, our, our classrooms are designed for the way that girls learn sit still, be quiet, pay attention. And that’s just murder for boys. And it, and, and, you know, scientists will tell us, Harvard professor recently wrote that, that boys have to move in order to learn. So that fidgeting that they’re doing in their seat that we’re punishing them for and declaring the ADHD, they actually intuitively… You know, they’ve got to move in order to learn. So we recognize that at Trail Life. I tell leaders all the time if your boys walk into your troop meeting, and it looks like a classroom or a Sunday school classroom, you’ve already lost them.

Jim: Hm.

Mark: (laughs) You know, and to get the chairs out of the room. Throw some Legos on the floor, cause that’s how boys learn. They learn they can be doing some activity, and they’re learning on a different channel. Look at the video games. Look at the sports programs or the news programs that we watch. You’re not just learning on one channel, you’ve got things coming across at the bottom of the screen, you got the score here, how many yard do you… We, we, we learn from these multiple channels. These boys were born into that world-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: and then we sit them in a classroom, and they have to listen to one person. That’s, that’s, that’s hard for them to do. So we have to, we have to recognize that boys and girls are different, that boys, uh, learn on multiple channels at the same time, and they need that’s type of distraction. My wife and I homeschooled our two boys, and so that was part of our learning experience is… You know, first thing we did when we decided to home school, we went out and we bought a couple little student desks. We bought them at the-

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: at a sale that the school board was having on their used furniture. And I don’t think they ever sat in those chairs. (laughs)

Jim: No, I can imagine. (laughs)

Mark: They schooled on the floor; you know-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: hanging from a chandelier, whatever.

John: Mm-hmm.

Mark: But they both ended up being, you know, full scholarships for college. So it worked.

Jim: Yeah, no kidding.

Mark: But but we do need to approach, uh, the way that we teach boys to learn.

Jim: In fact, you, uh, with your, uh, original experience in Boy Scouts when your sons, again, was right in the middle of becoming an e- Eagle Scout when you started, uh, um, another option. Um, in that regard, what, what happened when the Boy Scouts introduced girls into the Boy Scouts, which again, to me, I always was puzzled.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Why? I mean, again, why can’t boys have a place where boys can go?

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: But they decided to allow girls into the Boy Scouts.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: And what did you see and observe in that regard?

Mark: Yeah. Well, Jim, I can tell you something that broke my heart, when they made that decision, uh, to allow girls into Boy Scouts, it’s just, it, it broke my heart. But then one of the first quotes I read, they were interviewing a scout master, and they said, “How do you like having girls in your troop?” He said, “We love having girls in our troop because they’re so much better behaved and smarter.”

Jim: (laughs) Yeah, right.

John: Oh, my.

Mark: And I thought, you know, he’s right, he may be right, you know, because developmentally, boys lag a little bit behind girls. But to think, oh, my gosh. There’s another place boys can’t go without being shamed.

John: Hm.

Jim: They can’t go to Boy Scouts to be a boy.

Mark: You can’t go to Boy Scouts.

Jim: (laughs)

John: Yeah.

Mark: Their name is on the, on the organization, and they can’t go there without people saying, “Why can’t you sit still like Suzie does?” I mean, here’s-

Jim: Hm, yeah.

Mark: another place they go and-

John: Yeah.

Mark: they’re being discounted and, and, and dismissed as not being good enough. They start out school behind, and now there’s more girls enrolling in college getting ma- bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees than boys because we have this generation now long thing of, of discounting and teaching them in a way that, that, that doesn’t really fit for them.

Jim: Right.

Mark: And, uh, so there’s, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Jim: Yeah. Mark, we’re gonna turn to the young men in here and ask them to give us some input in a moment here, but, um, make the pitch. I mean, okay, if I had two boys that were between the ages of five and 18, why should I do this?

Mark: Yeah. Well, there’s a great reason. One is do it for your son. Uh, you know, he needs a male-centric environment that celebrates who it is that he is, he needs to be surrounded by other men who share your values. And, you know, you can tell your son something all day, and then, you know, this happens all the time, they come home, and they say-

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: “Oh, mister so-and-so said this,” and you’re like, “I’ve been telling you that for years.” And so, so-

Jim: That’s never happened in our house. (laughs)

Mark: (laughs)

Jim: Golly, huh?

Mark: So here you are in this environment where, where there are men who are supporting the values that you have. And so that’s great for your sons, but it, even if you don’t have a son in the program, it’s a great place to go to pour into the next generation-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: to be able to just… We have a lot of men in our program, don’t have sons in the organization, but hey know how important it is to disciple and mentor this next generation. And it’s done in this, uh, incredibly fun environment. You don’t have to be a great camper; you don’t have to be a great outdoors man. Come, and there’s guys there who will help you through the whole thing. But it’s, its j- it j- it just a great opportunity to grow closer to your son. I heard it said that this is the first generation being raised by Google, you know, where boys can now ask their phone, you know, where do babies come from. You know, so we’re restoring men as being the mentors and as the guy who knows more, cause Google cannot start a fire with wet leaves, you know?

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: But I know a lot of men in our movement who can. So boys get to be in an environment again where they’re learning, looking up to a male mentor-

John: Hm.

Mark: and it’s restoring that relationship that, of course, builds strong men.

Jim: Wow, that is so good. Well, let’s ask the guys who they’re doing. So let’s do that now.

Matthew: So I’m Matthew. Um, I do know that… So in Trail Life, we do a lot of camp outs. And so we’ve, we’re actually gonna have one in a f- I think it’s like two weeks now, two or three weeks where we’re gonna have all the older boys, and we’re gonna be going out with the woodland trails, and we’re… The older boys are gonna be mentoring the younger boys. But basically, this is my favorite story to tell because it shows, like, kinda the community you get. And so basically, we’re we- we’re hiking. And my backpack was too big, it was too heavy. I was, I was little. I was, I was a shrimp, and-

Jim: (laughs)

Matthew: but we’re, we’re walking down, and I was falling behind. And they st- all the guys stopped, and they unloaded my backpack. They took all my stuff out, and they put it in everybody else’s backpack. And so in Trail Life, you get this community where we support each other.

Jim: Yeah.

Matthew: We still have our boy leaders, so Shane’s is the highest leader you can be in the troop for the boys. Um, and then I’ve been a patrol leader multiple times, so we have our smaller groups of patrols eight to 10 boys. But it’s, it really just helps us to pour into younger boys, and I love the opportunity. It also allows the adults and the older boys to pour into us.

Jim: Yeah. Let me ask you this. I mean, it, it’s always fun. I mean, when I can remember being your age, uh, you probably don’t believe me, but I can. But, you know, there’s also the natural kinda mischievousness of what we do as boys, right, whether that’s put the frog in the, the guy’s nap sack or whatever. I mean, that stuff I’m sure is still happening, too.

Matthew: Yup.

Jim: And, but it’s good. That’s what the adventure’s all about, right? Those are the memories that you, you remember: the good stuff, the mentoring, and then also some of the games that go on.

Matthew: Oh, yeah.

Jim: And that’s normal.

Matthew: Yeah. I know that we have people go around rattling tents at night.

Jim: (laughs)

Matthew: We’ve, we’ve had those guys before.

Jim: And everybody comes running out?

Matthew: Yeah, of course.

Jim: Yeah.

Matthew: Everyone comes running out trying to figure out who it was.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good. That is such good stuff.

Mark: Thanks, Matthew.

Scott: So my name’s Scott. Um, and, and just a word of encouragement, I love that, you know, we have the opportunity to have other men kind of pour into our boys that know and love Jesus. Uh, so that’s huge for our family. I’ve got three boys in the audience here. Um, and so thank you for that. I did have one question. You mentioned, you know, one in four boys are living in homele- or not homeless, fatherless families. And I think it’s generally acknowledged that fatherlessness right now is a huge epidemic, um, with, with our boys and kinda how they’re growing up. Is there anything within Trail Life where you’re focusing on fatherless homes or single moms, or are, is there gonna be anything I guess in the roadmap, um, for Trail Life to focus on, on those boys and how we plug them into, to adult mentors.

Jim: That’s a great question.

Mark: That is a good question. Well, as, as you know, every troop is different, because you’re chartered by a church, and you have the flavor of that church. So some of those sorts of iterations of the program come out of the, the vision for the church. What does that church want to r- who do they want to reach in that community? But we do have a lot of resources. We reach out to single moms a lot, um, you know, just to let them know here’s an organization. We had a, a, a single mom just cry out to God. She said… Uh, her, her husband had passed away-

John: Hm.

Mark: uh, when he, when her son was two years old.

Jim: Hm.

Mark: And she started crying out to God. And now he’s 15 years old. He’s in a Trial Life USA troop, and he’s surrounded by godly men. And the woman came to me, she said, “You know, I, I need to thank you because my hu- my husband would want me to thank you.”

Jim: Yeah, wow.

Mark: So, so there are, there are those men. So I would encourage you, go for it. You know, there’s nothing to stop you from, from having that culture in your troop that says, “Listen, we need to pay attention to these boys.” Like I said earlier, and if, you know, you hear me say these things all the time, you know, if, if we’re not taking care of those boys, I mean, we’re, we’re challenged by scripture. James 1:27, we’re supposed to be paying attention to these boys. So take that on yourself to say me and my troop, (laughs) we’re gonna look out for these boys. We’re gonna make sure they’re taken care of.

Jim: That’s awesome.

Mark: But you’ll fit, you’ll have nothing but support from us, but I don’t know that we, that that’s something we would impress upon troops to do.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: But go for it.

Jim: And you’re also mentioning the church, kinda the church, uh, relationship there. I mean, uh, there’s pastors listening, and, and I would encourage them, uh, for a church to get engaged with you. Uh, they would just contact you directly, right?

Mark: Yeah. A remarkable thing. We’re not just an organization that meets in the basement of the church. We are an active outreach of that local church. And so churches are seeing growth, because you can invite a boy to Sunday school for forever, but if you invite him to go backpacking or white water rafting or something like that, that boy goes, that unchurched boy joins the troop, then that unchurched family joins the church. And we see churches growing because of their commitment to having challenge.

Jim: Yeah, that’s great.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: So churches can get involved.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: How many churches do you have involved now?

Mark: We just passed 900 yesterday.

Jim: Yeah, that would be great. What a good idea for churches to, uh, help those boys-

Mark: Yup.

Jim: that don’t have dads in the home.

Mark: Yup.

Scott: Great, thank you.

Mark: That’s a great ministry. Thank you.

Jim: Uh, Mark, this has been exceptional. And I hope people are catching this, John-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: the idea. We just really wanted to expose to people to Trial Life as we did with, uh, American Heritage Girls yesterday. And, uh, in doing so, we just want you to get involved. Uh, spread the word, talk to your pastor, get churches involved, certainly get your own son or daughter an- and, uh, your grandson or granddaughter involved, and, uh, you know, that’s the purpose. So, Mark, thank you so much for being with us, and we’ll make all the links to our website. And, John, how do folks get in touch with us?

John: They can find out more about Trail Life USA. Uh, we’ll have all the details at, or give us a call. We’ll be happy to tell you more. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. And we’re a listener-supported, uh, ministry. We need your support to continue making programs like this available. Donate as you can today, and we’ll say thanks by sending a CD of our conversation for you to pass along to somebody so they can listen along and hopefully get more engaged. Again, our number, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And coming up next time, taking responsibility for the challenges in your marriage.


Brad Rhoads: I didn’t see that I had a problem. I, I thought that I had a hyper-sensitivity wife. I thought that everybody else liked me fine, what’s her problem? Staff seems to like me; clients seem to like me.

End of Preview

Jim: So I’ve got it together.

Brad: Then I come home, and she doesn’t-

John: And she’s crying.

Brad: and she doesn’t like me.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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