In the wake of the Boy Scouts of America's vote last May to allow openly homosexual Scouts to join the organization, one local troop is switching to the Trail Life program, an alternative to Boy Scouts that describes itself as "a journey for boys and young men established on timeless values derived from the Bible."
"The Boy Scouts have lost their moral compass," said First Baptist Church of Soddy-Daisy pastor Seton Tomyn, referring to the Boy Scouts' decision to allow openly homosexual Scouts. "Those of us of the faith community who support Scouts have tried to see if there's something out there to help and develop godly young men."
"A lot of parents were just devastated by this vote," said Bill Goins, a former Scout and longtime Scout leader at FBCSD.
The Trail Life program was developed by former Scouts and Scout leaders, he said. It is a Christian adventure, character and leadership program for young men centered on outdoor experiences. It is intended to build a young man's skills and allows him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers, according to the Trail Life brochure.
All leaders are Christians who sign a statement of faith, said Goins, though youth members are not required to sign.
Right now, most of the boys involved with FBCSD's Boy Scout troop do not attend First Baptist Church of Soddy-Daisy.
"If we can use this as an outreach to help in the process of developing young men, we want to do that," said Tomyn.
He said there are no hard feelings between the church and the Scouts.
"The direction the Scouts are going in is inconsistent with what the church believes," said Goins.
"We really think that Trail Life offers additional benefits not available to Boy Scouts," added his wife Diane. "All parents will know they are choosing an overtly Christian organization."
She said Trailmen have the opportunity to be involved with faith-enhancing activities such as leading worship services or going on short-term mission trips.
Bill Goins said First Baptist Church of Soddy-Daisy is the first church in the area to adopt the Trail Life program.
"I think there will be some people who will wait and see," he said.
Bill Goins said they will start off with the 11-18 age group, but would eventually like to add programs for all ages from kindergarten to college.
The church's contract with the Boy Scouts expires Dec. 31 of this year, at which point BSA Troop 210 at FBCSD will become Troop 210 Trail Life USA.
Ed Bailey, a Scout leader at Burks United Methodist Church in Hixson, said that church has no plans to abandon BSA.
"The bottom line is there is nothing that has changed with the leadership," he said, adding that this is just his opinion. "There is no sexual intent allowed in Scouting whatsoever."