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  • Trail Life reports increased membership

    If the figures cited are accurate, and I don't doubt they are, that's pretty impressive for a new organization. I'm curious to see whether that will level out, as I would have to guess there is a limited consumer population for outdoors-based youth leadership groups.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/un...growth-119714/

    A recently created organization described by its leadership as an "unapologetically biblical" alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, has reported major growth since its launch at the start of the year.
    Trail Life USA, an Orlando, Florida-based group for young males, has seen large numbers of troops be chartered over the past few months and expects hundreds more by the end of the year.
    Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, told The Christian Post that a troop generally consists of 35 to 40 members, with on average 11 being created every week.
    "We have about 370 troops that are up and running, operating and holding meetings in more than 45 states. And then we have about 300 troops that are in the chartering process," said Hancock.
    "We would expect all those troops to be up and running by the end of the year. We're chartering about 11 new troops a week."
    Hancock also told CP that the model for Trail Life USA is one that "leans very heavily toward having churches as our chartering partners."

    The Boston Globe just had an article on alternatives to BSA on the both ends of the political spectrum:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/reg...f0I/story.html

    Navigators formed, first in New York City, as a coed group that would welcome youths and adult leaders of “every race, creed, lifestyle, and ability.” Members promise to do their best “to create a world free of prejudice and ignorance.”

    “I think that groups like the Navigators, it’s clear that they value the scouting experience while they also value inclusion in a very big way,” said Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, a national group formed in 2012 to reverse the organization’s ban on gay members and leaders.

  • #2
    I find it interesting that TLUSA does not give approximate membership numbers (like rounding to the closest 1,000).

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    • #3
      Well, didn't they go from zero to x? With x= current membership.

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      • #4
        My interest in TLUSA is learning what they are doing better than us. As far as transparency - reporting the numbers, membership and finances, they are just as bad.

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        • #5
          So are they growing faster than we are shrinking? I didn't see any membership numbers, only troop numbers, with an "average" per troop. IMHO, they aren't doing that well, and are afraid to publish the true numbers.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by perdidochas View Post
            So are they growing faster than we are shrinking? I didn't see any membership numbers, only troop numbers, with an "average" per troop. IMHO, they aren't doing that well, and are afraid to publish the true numbers.
            In percentages, obviously, yes. They are on track for 80% growth if there is no difference in the sizes of troops waiting to charter vs. those already enrolled.

            In raw numbers, let's grant that they have 600 troops each serving 50 boys by years' end. That's 30,000 members. One BSA's side, let's grant that the only losses by year's end were 6% of the 2.7 million youth enrolled at the end of last year. (Over-conservative since national is moving up the absolute rechartering deadline, which means some CO's who charter late will certainly be dropped.) That's 167,000 members. TL is only gaining 1/3 of what BSA is loosing/not recruiting.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by qwazse View Post
              That's 167,000 members. TL is only gaining 1/3 of what BSA is loosing/not recruiting.
              6% of 2.7mil is 162,000 members dropped. If all estimated 30,000 TLUSA members came from our dropouts, can we assume that 162,000 - 30,000 = 132,000 did not care for either the BSA or TLUSA?

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              • #8
                What we also don't know is where the losses occurred. Lack of new Tigers? Units dropping? Webelos not crossing over? In my unit's case it was a Tigers/Webelos issue.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                  That's 167,000 members. TL is only gaining 1/3 of what BSA is loosing/not recruiting.
                  30/167 is about 18% so somewhere between 1/5 and 1/6 rather than 1/3.

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                  • #10
                    Qwazse ... 50 per troop? I'd be surprised. I'm betting the average is more 15 to 20 per troop. Some may have 30 or 40 but I suspect there are as many 5 or 10 person troops making the membership at best 10,000 by years end ... at best.

                    BSA has two big things going for them. They have the Boy Scouts label and they have the Eagle rank. Nothing else compares in name and stature. In the 1970s, my father and I were in the Indian Guides YMCA program. I am sure no one remembers the recognition program from that and few probably even remember the name Indian Guides. Trail's Life, like 3rd political party, will fade over time and become about as known as the YMCA Indian Guides.

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                    • #11
                      Pardon the fuzzy logic. But with quality #s like these it really is better to guess on the side of most optimistic gains from their reports vs.worst case of ours and then round the ratio very crudely ...

                      Fred: TL troops are K-12. So that 50 probably breaks down the usual pyramid we all have come to know and despise: 10 1st graders ... maybe 2 12th graders. Also I counted 600 instead of their reported 670 of current and in-process of charters.
                      KDD: For quick stats, it doesn't matter where our losses are coming from. Or where TL is picking up theirs. I don't mean to imply that they are even the same boys. Unless TL posts stats on how many former BSA members they have vs. how many youth were never BSA members, we won't have a clue.
                      Pere: Yep, maybe it's 1/5 not 1/3. Still, only a fraction of our losses are boys who marched straight over to TL.

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                      • #12
                        I think you would be surprised to find out how little interest we have in our numbers as compared to other organizations. We are not for everybody. We have a defined purpose and recognize we will not have mass appeal.

                        Interesting enough, though, former BSA Troops that charter with us find their membership increases after they become TLUSA Troops. This was a surprise to us. We had no idea there would be so many people who would not be interested in BSA that see something that we are doing that attracts them. Still, though we consider our growth to be significant (over 10,000 members in less than 5 months. We've released these numbers many times. Media reports don't always carry them.), this is not our focus.

                        Nearing 400 Troops (with charters that cover what other groups may cover with 3 separate charters), we know we have a lot of boys that are not yet registered.

                        Because many Troops functioned unofficially until their charters were complete, we know some families are slower in getting their boys registered since they were attending for free before chartering. We don't have "seasonal registration." Since all of our chartering and member registration is online, Troops and members join and rejoin on their anniversary date. We do expect the real numbers to be reflected once our online advancement modules are fully operative (within a few weeks), as boys will need to be registered to be in the advancement system. They won't progress without being official. And joining is a simple click away (Troopmasters LOVE that they don't have to register boys!).

                        Our Troop chartering process is quite intense, which is why we have almost as many Troops waiting to charter as chartered.

                        Anyway, I enjoyed reading your comments.

                        In the interest of transparency, I'll be glad to answer questions here. But I suspect you might not find me here long!

                        Some people think we are competitors.

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                        • #13
                          Mark thanks for dropping in, please stick around and educate us about TLUSA.

                          As I understand as a cost saving, the TLUSA does not plan to own/manage camps or council offices. Is that correct?

                          Will your online registration system allow the registrant (scout or adult) to drop-out before anniversary of joining/renewal. Seems both the BSA and TLUSA could do that and then have current accurate membership and demographic data. So do TLUSA adults just register once? Recall in the BSA, adults have to register again whenever they change or add a position.

                          When is your first Jamboree? I know a place in West Virginia looking for bookings, well as long as you remain non-profit.

                          Thanks

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the warm welcome. We are committed to remaining debt averse which means we will not accept or take on any properties that are not self-sustaining. We don't envision owning our own camps since there are thousands that are very well-managed and can offer some very good high-adventure experiences. Our growth model is dependent on our membership growth which means we will not rely on corporate or any types of donations in order to build our staff and facilities. Therefore, we envision staying very lean in terms of Council offices and certainly in terms of our personnel. Our membership fees are nonrefundable. That means that when someone signs up they're committing to us for a year. They will receive a notice to pay their dues again one year later. Again, we do our registrations based on individual anniversary dates, not any calendar or seasonal date. I don't believe we have a prorated refund system in place. That's a good question but it just hasn't come up yet. Our adults register each year. They are required to complete their child and safety youth protection training and background checks every two years. This is all automated and tracked in our systems. It is very clear to the troops who is registered and who is not. They do not need to reregister when they change positions. All of our adults, at any level of participation (even parents that are active in the troops) are background checked and complete child and youth protection training. We are sure that we have boys that are dual-enrolled. We would prefer that they not split their time between two organizations, but we understand that some want to complete some rank advancements before they transfer over to Trail Life. Plus, many continue to enjoy the wonderful traditions in Boy Scouts of America and may have no reason to change over. We aren't releasing any details on a jamboree as of yet. We have multiple invitations at multiple facilities. I'm aware of that facility in West Virginia. Quite a place. Probably too big for us.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mark Hancock View Post
                              Interesting enough, though, former BSA Troops that charter with us find their membership increases after they become TLUSA Troops. This was a surprise to us. We had no idea there would be so many people who would not be interested in BSA that see something that we are doing that attracts them. Still, though we consider our growth to be significant (over 10,000 members in less than 5 months. We've released these numbers many times. Media reports don't always carry them.), this is not our focus.
                              Mark, thanks for dropping by to answer questions.

                              Any idea (anecdotally or official figures) what percentage of people signing up were formally affiliated with the BSA and what percentage were never involved in Scouting?

                              From your conversations with former BSA, what are the main reasons they are citing for switching over? The new membership policies, dissatisfaction with other BSA policies, or other issues?

                              Because many Troops functioned unofficially until their charters were complete, we know some families are slower in getting their boys registered since they were attending for free before chartering. We don't have "seasonal registration." Since all of our chartering and member registration is online, Troops and members join and rejoin on their anniversary date. We do expect the real numbers to be reflected once our online advancement modules are fully operative (within a few weeks), as boys will need to be registered to be in the advancement system. They won't progress without being official. And joining is a simple click away (Troopmasters LOVE that they don't have to register boys!).
                              That seems like an awesome idea. Do they pay online as well?

                              Our Troop chartering process is quite intense, which is why we have almost as many Troops waiting to charter as chartered.
                              How does the chartering process work?

                              If someone wanted to start a troop in a new area, what is the process?

                              Anyway, I enjoyed reading your comments.

                              In the interest of transparency, I'll be glad to answer questions here. But I suspect you might not find me here long!

                              Some people think we are competitors.
                              Kind of, but we all want boys to advance and grow no matter what organization they choose. Friendly organizational competition will probably bring out the best in both of us. I wish Trail Life well.

                              I was looking on your website, and it looks like you all have a different take on uniforming. There's a t-shirt that is the basic field uniform, a polo for meetings and travel, and it sounds like something that will be more like the "Class A" shirt that I presume will be used for patches, etc. Are they keeping the uniform fairly minimalist, or will there be official trousers/shorts?
                              Last edited by AZMike; 06-04-2014, 12:03 AM.

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