Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We’re talking about all the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Would the world be a better place if there were more “true” men? Where can a boy enjoy fellowship and adventure in God’s creation, while developing character and learning life-skills? Tune in to hear John Stemberger discuss the history and incredible growth of Trail Life USA!
We Need Real Men
We begin our discussion today talking about masculinity and the notion of toxic masculinity.
We begin our discussion today talking about masculinity and the notion of toxic masculinity.
I would say the biggest problem with masculinity in the world today is there’s not enough masculinity. The reason we’re seeing so much evil, the reason we’re seeing so much abuse is because there are not enough men standing up and stopping those abuses, stopping those evils. It used to be that we recognized men certainly are supposed to be the warriors, they’re supposed to be tough, they’re supposed to be able to endure things. But part of the reason we were supposed to be tough, and warriors and endure things was so that we could offer the strength that God has given us for those who needed strength in their life - the innocent, the weak, the vulnerable.
You know, that’s an interesting concept you got, Tim, in the sense that I was thinking even back through a number of stores in the Old Testament where that you had leaders, whether it was Joshua, or Gideon, or others saying, "Hey, you males need to start acting like men." And they actually kind of made that distinction that you need to get a backbone, you need to stand up, you need to show some leadership, you need to take on some responsibilities.
And it is not just in the Old Testament, the New Testament tells Christians you need to endure hardship as a good soldier, and it goes through all of these analogies of soldiers. I think we would definitely acknowledge that soldiers are trained in a very different way than citizens are. They are trained to endure hardship, and be able to be tough in places, mentally tough, physically tough, etc. And those are the type of analogies the Bible gives us. Don’t just be a male, be a man - and don’t just be an individual, be a soldier - fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith, stand for truth.
And that kind of mentality is the kind of stuff that you get from the outdoors...from groups like Trail Life. I mean, it is so significant,
So there is this thing, I think in our nature, where we will respond well to nature. A lot of people don’t know much about it. They’re kind of scared of it. They’re kind of scared of that type of life. But I think “Trail Life” is something that really is good at helping young people understand some of those consequences, what’s outside the city, if you will.
I don’t think it matters, whether you’re from the country or from the city, everybody needs this kind of training that you get with “Trail Life” and the kind of growth and exposure and what it does to help your character as well.
Trail Life is a tremendous organization doing some really good stuff. And I think it has consequences far beyond what we just think of in terms of hey, we get to go camping in the outdoors. I think it really does help develop a character and help develop maturity and other things that every man needs.
Yeah, just being just well rounded, and being put in situations where you build great relationships, you learn how to do things that you wouldn’t normally learn how to do. I mean, they do fantastic work. And the kids love it. I mean, you can just tell. And so, I really encourage all the dads out there, check this out!
Welcome John Stemberger
Welcome John, several years ago when you left the Boy Scouts and helped to start “Trail Life”, and we’ve talked about that on the program before. But give us a quick recap on that, and then the incredible growth this last year for “Trail Life.”
In early 2013, On My Honor grew out of some dissatisfaction with Boy Scout decisions. As a result of that, tens of thousands of people came together to form Trail Life. And now that has grown to almost 900 Troops in all 50 states.
And just to be clear, when you say 900 Troops, that doesn’t mean 900 Trailmen, that means 900 groups?
Yeah, that’s right. 900 Troops, about 40,000 people.
We’re very excited about it. It’s been growing. Even through COVID, it’s growing. We see more Troops being started, more parents saying, hey, we want to trust a Christ-Centered Church-based program where men are stepping up to grow men. And so we’re just thrilled about what we’re seeing around the country.
So you still get the outdoors, you still get the training, you still get the fellowship, you still get the brotherhood, you still get the leadership, all of those things, but you still get the biblical perspective and not this crazy leftist agenda?
That’s right. And we just recently integrated worldview principles throughout the entire program. Every batch, there’s a discussion about some philosophical principle that undergirds Christianity, all the ranks, all the Troop masters minutes, everything now is going to be fused with a biblical worldview. And we’re focused on adventure, character, and leadership.
The boys love the adventure. The parents love the character. And out of that comes leadership. And it’s really teaching life skills. I mean, sports are great. But this is teaching you how to do life, how to think about life, decision-making, leadership. In terms of a young person’s development. There’s really nothing like it.
Trail Life: An Amazing Program
And I did ROTC, Junior ROTC, I did scouting, I did lots of sports and things. But “Trail Life” is a remarkable program. I’ve seen what it’s done for my own sons, Rick, and it’s transformative.
Traillifeusa.com is the website. 70% increase in new members over this time last year, that’s massive. I mean, just from an organizational perspective, how’s everybody handling that? That’s a big growth?
Well, we are high speed, low drag: everything’s automated. Everything is using apps and online processes, and so we’re able to handle a capacity with very little overhead and little staff.
That’s really, really good stuff, man. You know, I’m thinking about even my grandkids coming up now this new generation of children that need exactly what you just described, adventure, they need character, they need obviously leadership and to have a Christ-centered masculine, I mean, we need the masculine training too. You know, I mean, like everybody’s afraid to talk about that. I think we need to talk about that.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. And in our program, the older boys, it has to be man-o, man-o. While there is a role for women, men are running our program.
How Do Boys Learn to Become Men?
In terms of the direct contact with the boy, we want men, because boys cannot learn how to become men unless they are spending time with men. And to have five, six other men speaking into my son’s life in addition to me to share my values, that’s priceless. There’s nothing you could buy that’s more important than that. And it’s transformative for the young man.
And so when you sit around a campfire, when you’re looking at the beauty of God’s creation, all the cell phones are down, that’s a big deal, no technology on the outdoor stuff. I mean, it’s time to be reflective, let the Holy Spirit to speak to you when you can’t hear him otherwise, because you got music playing and all these games going on. It’s just so much about it that is old school and really, really kicks into the character of God and the young man’s life.
And to all the ladies out there, please American Heritage Girls is kind of a sister organization or a lot like what “Trail Life” does in replacing the Girl Scouts that have really gone leftist as well. American Heritage Girls need to get somebody on about that, because we’ve seen great results from that as well.
But John, man, I’m thankful to you and the other men that started this several years ago, I’m excited to see the growth. I’m excited for my grandkids to be able to be a part of it. I wish all my boys weren’t already grown. But thank you, man, for what you’re doing. I know God’s doing a great work through this. Trailifeusa.com, again, is the website.
Last thing I’ll ask you is how difficult is it for somebody that doesn’t have a Troop in their neighborhood, in their community that wants to start one, what’s the hurdle like? What would you say to those men out there that are listening and saying, hmm, I wish I had one of those? I’d love to start it.
Find a Troop Near You
Yeah, check online, there’s a huge map that shows all 900 Troops. And if there’s not one close to you, for $99, you’d get a kit, you need at least three men to the leadership positions that are administrated, can be held by women, these three men and then five people to start a Troop.
And we’ll we have staff that can walk you through it. We have online training with everything you need and a kit that we’ll mail you. So it does take some commitment, but it’s not difficult.
I'm so glad “Trail Life” has exploded. Unfortunately, you know, Boy Scouts used to do everything we’re talking about right now in such a great way.
I mean, I used to hire, if you were an Eagle Scout, man, you got a job in my Capitol office, I didn’t even have to look at anything else. Thankfully, “Trail Life” is filling that vacuum.
Yeah, one of the interesting things that John said was that even though there can be a place for women in the Troop, that women are not the leaders of the Troop, that men are going to be one leading the boys so that they can show the boys what it is like to be a man, how to be a man.
The reality is, you need men to instill masculinity into boys helping show them how to become a man and something that a woman cannot do in the same way that a man can do. It’s also part of the reason that when God designed the family, there was a father and mother. You actually need both dynamics in the family.
You need the masculinity. You need the femininity. Masculinity can instill and bestow masculinity, femininity can instill and bestow femininity. And so the fact that “Trail Life” actually has men leading the Troops is a very good thing for a boys Troop.
Well, again, we encourage people to take this ball and run with it. This is a great opportunity to get something going in your community. Especially if you have young boys, is a great way to get them active, it’s great father-son time, it’s great way to build relationships with other young men in the community. But maybe even if you don’t have a young man in your home, but you can help out at a local church and Start a Troop like this, you can be a part of that. Get involved with Trail Life USA, you will be glad that you did.