Teaching boys and young men the Christian values and life skills needed for later in life is the purpose of an all-male program in Gainesville.
Trail Life Troop GA-2717 educates boys ages of 5 to 17 by taking them into the great outdoors and giving them experiences and lessons that will last a lifetime.
“It’s a Bible-based, Christian scouting organization,” Troopmaster Carey Whitlow said.
Troop leaders devise all tasks and activities ranging from hiking to whitewater rafting. All events are age-appropriate for the boys, who are divided into age groups starting with kindergartners up to high schoolers. Each group has a specific name such as Foxes, Hawks, Mountain Lions, Navigators and Adventurers.
Of the many survival lessons troop leaders teach, one includes leaving no trace or evidence of their camping trip in the woods.
“God put us here to take care of our environment and to be good stewards of our environment,” said Whitlow.
The troop will hold its first meeting of the fall season from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, at Northlake Baptist Church, 4823 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. The meeting also acts as a recruitment session.
According to the Trail Life USA website, the goal of the program is to be the “premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens.”
Whitlow has been involved with the organization since January and helped charter the troop in February. The troop had its first meeting in May and has about 25 members. But it is hoping to reel in more interested kids and their families.
“They are some troops in Lawrenceville and Buford,” Whitlow said. “But we’re the only one in Gainesville.”
The Gainesville native said he has worked with kids for years. The father of four works as a teacher at Chestatee High School. He mentioned the organization wants the fathers of the children to participate as well.
“We want the dads involved in order to build godly men,” Whitlow said. “Those that don’t have that opportunity, we have men that will fill that spot.”
The troop will meet every other Sunday, allowing families to have a week off for spending the day together. Registration costs $26 with a $40 dues fee. The money is used to purchase awards at the end of the year and other costs such as money for uniforms.
Trail Life USA became more popular recently as an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America after that organization voted to allow homosexual troop leaders and members.
Nationally, 500 troops are spread across the U.S., with about 20,000 members, Whitlow said. New recruits can register online at the event. For more information, call 678-316-4784 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Trail Life Troop GA-2717 on Facebook.