Christian scouting program launches in Winnsboro Sept. 27

WINNSBORO – Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls, a pair of Christian-based youth programs with aspects similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, are kicking off in Winnsboro with an information meeting Tuesday.

“Trail Life’s going to offer a lot of great outdoor activities – everything from camping, hiking, community service projects, to sporting events like shooting range, bow and arrow, all that kind of fun stuff,” says Daniel Stines, who is serving as the ministry liaison – essentially the director – for Trail Life.

“Our motivation is just to get people involved in a good community program.”

Stines, whose wife Lauren is serving in the equivalent role for American Heritage Girls, says the new local chapters of both organizations are being chartered through Winnsboro First Baptist Church, which is hosting an open house and informational meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the church.

Both groups will meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the church and are open to girls and boys ages 5 through 18. Stines says families are encouraged to participate.

“We welcome everybody,” he says. “If families share a passion for learning about Jesus and being in a good, safe environment with good leadership and fun activities and adventurous types of activities, then this would be a good organization for anybody to join, either boys or girls.”

Both organizations have chapters around the country. American Heritage Girls, which began in Ohio in 1995, was founded to guide girls with a focus on faith, service, and fun in the outdoors.

Trail Life USA, founded less than a decade ago to similarly shape boys’ character as they grow into men, now boasts more than 40,000 members in all 50 states.

In addition to Tuesday’s meeting, each local troop can be contacted by using the “Find a Troop” button on the organization’s website for Trail Life USA and for American Heritage Girls.

Often viewed as a Christian alternative to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, both organizations grew up nationwide amid the cultural controversies of the last few decades, with the intentional choice to maintain focus on traditional values and Christian-based character and leadership development.

In addition to their Christian focus, the programs include values like patriotism and appreciation for community. Like other scouting programs, they offer the opportunity to earn merit badges and participate in special events.

Stines says a great group of women in the community has banded together to create an exceptional organization for American Heritage Girls – and a great group of men has banded together to create a strong organization for Trail Life USA.

“I think it will be a great program for them to be part of,” Stines says.

“It’s volunteer-driven and basically servant-leadership-focused and character-focused, so just a good collaborative program to offer a Christian worldview and bring up good strong character and develop future leaders of the community.”

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