“A lot of us have the initial interest in the program because we have young sons and we want to get them involved in activities. One of the attractive things about Trail Life is not only about outdoor adventure and fun activities for boys, but it is about parents, and especially fathers, being involved and staying involved with their children,” said Hudson Trail Life USA charter organization representative Jason Bacon. “Something that was very appealing to us as a body here is to see that growing in our area. And as far as the church goes, it is a good ministry opportunity.”
The Hudson group meets every Thursday night in a house located on the Harvestime grounds to discuss different topics such as cooking outdoors, how to put up tents and canoeing. Every month the group holds a “hit the trails” meeting where the group takes part in an activity relative to what they have been talking about that month, which could include ringing a bell in front of Walmart or playing games with the elderly at a senior home.
“You aren’t just teaching them outdoors skills. You are teaching them serving, leadership, integrity and character,” Bacon said. “That fits well with our beliefs. We want to train up our boys to be young men and we feel like it is something that we have lost in society in today’s world.”
The Hudson Trail Life USA group has 25 children registered in the program. The group has added a few new children since it started up last year, with another two or three who have shown interest in joining. The children aren’t all from Harvestime Outreach’s congregation either. The group includes members from as far away as Maplewood and Woodville.
“The Midwest is one of the last areas across the country to pick up Trail Life USA,” Bacon said. “There are a lot of groups down South in the Bible Belt, but it is starting to grow elsewhere as well. I think they said they have added 50 new troops across the country just this fall. A lot of things have happened over the last few years in other organizations that have spurned a lot of interest and growth.”
Bacon has two sons, ages 9 and 5, who are both participating in the program this year.
“My youngest son is right on the edge and he wants to go so badly. Once they get in with those older boys you can hardly hold them back,” Bacon said.
The Hudson Trail Life USA group’s current age group includes kindergarten to fifth graders. The program itself works with boys until the age of 25. The only reason the Hudson group doesn’t have a group for older children, Bacon said, is because they don’t currently have enough children in an older age bracket who are interested enough to form a new group.
“The goal, as soon as we receive a little more interest at those age levels, is to start groups at those older levels,” Bacon said. “I anticipate us getting a couple of the other program levels started by mid-year. We know that we have kids right now moving into the next level next year, so we know we will have that group started at some point.
“As the kids get older and move into the next levels, the program becomes more self-planned and self-led. We have a great vision of our children participating in those next levels as they get to that point.”
According to Harvestime Outreach Church Pastor Randy Simonson, the program is open to, and kind of geared towards helping, boys without dads and trying to reach kids who might slip through the cracks and really need a dad or a man in their lives to teach them about the outdoors.
“This program is a strong fit as another ministry of the church to partner with because their values are so strong. We usually have a chaplain or a pastor that gives a little five-minute deal at the end where we tie in the lesson with a little spiritual emphasis or a Bible verse,” Simonson said. “As a church it is beautiful to see boys and fathers come together. We have had just about all the fathers stay for the program. I think that has been a big plus. And it will grow stronger as those fathers spend more time with their sons.”
Those interested in learning more about Trail Life USA or joining the Harvestime Outreach Church group should contact the church at email@example.com or visit traillifeusa.com.