PROVO, Utah – Although Boy Scouts seem to be everywhere in Utah, one scouting alternative called Trail Life can’t find its footing in Utah.
The Christian organization came about in response to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow openly gay youth members.
Most Brigham Young University students had not ever heard of Trail Life, and had varied ideas about what “trail life” might mean.
“Those pioneers, they had that trail life,” one student said.
“Something to do with nature, and going into the outdoors maybe?” another said.
“Isn’t that like an alternative form of Boy Scouts?” one student finally said.
Public interest in Trail Life programs exploded after the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow transgender youth members last month. The Trail Life website shows that Utah is the only state in the United States that still does not have a troop.
Boy Scout Executive Dave Pack said he thinks the lack of Trail Life presence might be a resource problem.
“I just don’t think the organization on a national level has the bandwidth to be able to deal with the logistical problems,” he said.
Pack also said that some areas in the Beehive State have almost 90 percent Boy Scout unit participation among scouting age youth.
“There’s a higher percentage of children in Utah participating in the Boy Scouts of America than anywhere else in the world,” Pack said.
According to Pack, BSA troops are in many Utah neighborhoods in part because of the BSA’s partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Church is the oldest chartered partner of the Boy Scouts.
In Orem, where the council offices are located, there are 60,000 more Boy Scouts – a total of 85,000 – than the entire 26,000-person national membership of Trail Life.
“We’ve been doing it for a hundred years,” Pack said, “and we’re the best there is at it.”
Trail Life’s local spokesperson did not respond to comment requests.
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