Hancock, a father of two, founded Trail Life USA in 2014 as a breakaway organization based on Christian standards, and in the wake of controversial changes at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which is now caught up in lawsuits with sexual abuse claims.
Amid the controversies following BSA, many Americans are looking for alternative organizations such as Trail Life USA, which according to its website seeks to “guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”
In an interview with EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program, Hancock outlined how the youth Christian organization helps boys learn responsibility and life skills with its focus on outdoor education.
“Outdoors is the great level playing field. It’s a place where a father and son can get and the dad can, again, be the guy who knows stuff,” said Hancock. “We have mentors and men all over the country, 10,000 volunteers at Trail of USA here, taking the boys in the outdoors, because it’s a place where boys can discover God and His creation.”
“They can see things they haven’t seen before. You can Google how to start a fire with the wet leaves, but when you see a guy do it, it’s like, ‘he’s the man’ you know,” he explained.
“Boys get to, again, engage with adult men, good godly men in the outdoors, a place that they can’t Google about. They get to see it firsthand, and that connection between that boy and that man is what builds that godly man.”
Hancock, who has served in the ministry as a youth and college pastor, says that his organization helps young children learn what can’t be found in the American school system—values taught from father figures.
“I grew up around men who told me about truth and told me that there were absolutes and things to follow after. They told me that there are certain things that I should not ever give up, that there are things to fight for,” he said. “You’re not going to find that in the school system, but you can find that in a father.”
He explained, “We fill Trail Life USA with fathers who are in the outdoors with their sons, connecting in ways like they’ve never connected before.”
Hancock’s remarks come just weeks after BSA reached an $850 million settlement with attorneys representing some 60,000 victims of child sexual abuse seeking compensation through the nonprofit’s bankruptcy proceedings.
According to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, insurance rights will be signed over to a trust that would handle the abuse claims and distribution of payments to the tens of thousands of sexual abuse victims.
The settlement with the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice and two other groups “ensures we have the overwhelming support of survivors” to emerge from bankruptcy, the Irving, Texas-based organization said.
“Bringing these groups together marks a significant milestone … as the BSA works toward our dual imperatives of equitably compensating survivors of abuse and preserving the mission of scouting,” the 111-year-old organization said in a statement.
The BSA has approximately 2.2 million youth members between the ages of 5 and 21 and approximately 800,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories, according to the organization’s website. More than 130 million young men and women have participated in the BSA’s youth programs since its founding in 1910.
Trail Life USA drew in more than 14,000 members in the nine months after it was founded. It now has more than 30,000 members across 50 states.