Trail Life Details

Overview

Trail Life Troop VA-1115 was chartered in January 2014 by Immanuel Bible Church (IBC) and has been active ever since then. Troop VA-1115 is one of the largest and most active troops in the Northern Virginia area. We average around 80 youth (known as trailmen) on our roster.The national Trail Life USA organization is a Christian adventure, character, and leadership program for young men. The K-12 program centers on outdoor experiences that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers. Living the Trail Life is a journey established on timeless values derived from the Bible. All boys ages 5 through 17 are welcome irrespective of religion, race, national origin, or socioeconomic status. We welcome boys whose parents are seeking a faith-based outdoor adventure program that places an emphasis on character development, leadership, and moral purity, and who aspire to live in accordance with the values expressed in the Trail Life Motto (Walk Worthy) and Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best
To serve God and my country;
To respect authority;
To be a good steward of creation;
And to treat others as I want to be treated.

The Trail Life motto is "Walk Worthy" derived from Colossians 1:10:

“… so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, …”

Meetings

We love having visitors and registration is not required before visiting. We meet on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:15 PM except when IBC is closed for holidays, weather, or other reasons. Meetings begin in the IBC Gym with all youth (known as Trailmen) present for an opening ceremony. Our first meeting of the 2019-2020 year will be September 9th. Please enter IBC through "Entrance #3" which is also known as the "glass breezeway." The troop forms at 7:00 PM so it is best to arrive 10 minutes early to allow time for check-in (especially for first time visitors). 

A typical opening ceremony includes troop formation, presentation of flags, reciting of pledge of allegiance, reciting of Trail Life oath, opening prayer, and troop wide announcements. After the opening ceremony we then break into groups which are organized by age and grade. Groups are defined as follows*:

  • Woodlands Trail: kindergarten through 5th grade. This group is further broken into the following levels:
    • Foxes: kindergarten to 1st grade and at least 5 years old by October 31st.
    • Hawks: 2nd to 3rd grade and at least 7 years old by October 31st.
    • Mountain Lions: 4th to 5th grade and at least 9 years old by October 31st.
  • Navigators: 6th to 8th grade, and at least 11 years old by October 31st.
  • Adventurers: 9th to 12th grade, and at least 14 years old by October 31st

Each group will have one or more Patrols. For example, if there are a lot of Hawks then there may be two patrols for the Hawks level to maintain an orderly size. Each Patrol will have a Trail Guide and other registered adults to lead the patrol.

*Exceptions to the above requirements may be made based on the time of year Trailman joins and on a case-by-case basis by consensus of the Troop Committee.

Foxes are required to have at least one parent in attendance at all meetings and events. IBC Children’s Ministry policy requires that a parent remain physically on site during the meeting for ALL trailmen Kindergarten through 6th grade. If the trailman is banded during checkin, a parent must remain on site for the duration of the meeting.

Activities

In addition to troop meetings, Trailmen can participate in a variety of activities under the supervision of adult leaders. About once per month during the school year Woodlands Trailmen will participate in a "Hit the Trail" activity. These are designed to be age appropriate outdoor activities that help emphasize the theme for the month. Activities can include a day hike, an overnight campout, attending an airshow, serving the community or visiting a historic site. As Trailmen progress through the levels, they will have the opportunity to participate in more adventurous activities such as spelunking (caving) or sailing. Our troop follows the safety guidelines and requirements established by Trail Life USA. This includes having medical forms complete. The Trail Guide for your patrol will help you fill out whatever is required.

Communications

If you need to reach a leader and are uncertain how to contact your Patrol leaders, you may reach the leadership by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The primary means of receiving information about troop-wide events is through Trail Life Connect. More information is provided below in the Registration section on how to get setup in Trail Life Connect. If you already have an account you can browse to this link to see your profile. There is a ‘Update Profile’ button at the bottom left of this page where you can view and update your email information.

After you complete registration, you will receive emails through Trail Life Connect which allows leaders to send email communications to tailored groups such as your trailmen's Patrol or the entire Woodlands trail. You may also add a secondary email address (such as for a spouse or a work address). To do so take edit your profile as mentioned above in Trail Life Connect and enter the second email in the ‘Alternate Parent Email’ box. Make sure you do not check the box to [Opt-out from receiving emails from TLC] or you will not receive any emails, including emails pertaining to account access such as password reset.

Lastly, additional communications may also be sent directly by your patrol's Trail Guide in some cases. Consistent with Trail Life national policy, electronic communications such as email between Trailmen and adults should always include two adults. This is to enforce a "two deep rule" where all interactions between adult leaders and youth are witnessed by another adult. If you see this policy not being followed, please notify a leader so we can take corrective action.

Registration

Our troop has a leadership position called the Membership Chair whose primary job is to help register Trailmen and adults. Registration is not required for visiting. However delaying registration for a Trailmen makes it difficult for the troop leadership to track the Trailmen's participation and progress towards advancement. Registration is slightly different depending on whether you are a new Trialmen, a transferring Trailmen (or adult), or registering as an Adult Leader. Renewals are also briefly described below.

New Trailmen: registration for new Trailmen is a two-step process:

  1. Pay Local Dues: The Parent or guardian completes an on-line form which provides information about the trailmen and also collects local dues. The online form is available on Immanuel's page for Trail Life. Local dues are paid each calendar year and are submitted using the same form each year.
  2. Pay National Dues: A troop leader will invite the parent to register through Trail Life Connect. Completing this process registers the child with the national Trail Life USA organization including paying national dues. This registration is good for one year even if the Trailmen changes troops. Once complete the troop leader will assign the Trailman to a patrol in Trail Life Connect.

See the section about fees for more information on the costs involved.

Transferring existing Trailmen: Transferring one or more Trailmen into the troop from another troop is possible through the following process:

  1. The parent expresses interest to transfer their child(ren) by contacting one of the following core leaders in VA-1115: the Committee Chair, the Troopmaster, or the Membership Chair. Please provide the following: 
    1. Indicate who you want to transfer (child's name only or the whole family including adult(s)).
    2. Provide your Tail Life Connect username or email address.
  2. The troop leadership will arrange a request through Trail Life Connect to transfer the trailmen and (if applicable) the adults.
  3. A $5 fee per person will be assessed and paid by the requester.
  4. Additionally the parent must pay the local dues to VA-1115.

Please note the following conditions:

  • Trailman advancement, attendance and service records will transfer over with him. Membership with Trail Life national will renew based on the original date irrespective of the transfer.
  • Adult member documents, forms and other records will remain the property of the originating troop and will not transfer over.
  • Additionally, only registered adult roles and permissions will transfer for adults.
  • Additional leadership roles for any adult members can be completed by the new troop once the transfer is complete.

Adult Leaders: Adult leaders must also register with Trail Life national. Adult registration follows a similar process as a Trailmen with a few important differences:

  1. 1. The adult leader expresses interest to an existing leader. You can do so by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  2. An existing leader will send an invitation through Trail Life Connect for the adult to register with Trail Life national.
  3. The adult leader completes registration with Trail Life USA including paying the fee. This is valid for 1 year with Trail Life USA.
  4. Trail Life USA will perform a background check. Once complete (typically very quick) then the adult leader receives an email to take an online Child Safety Youth Protection training class. This is a ~45 minute computer-based training.
  5. After the training is complete then an existing leader can assign the new adult leader a specific leadership role.

Renewals: Renewing in a timely manner is important to maintain access to Trail Life Connect and allow troop leadership to track participation and progress. Failure to renew on time can also result in a fee to re-activate the account (historically $10/account). The renewal process is as follows:

  • An automated email will be sent to the parent of the child (or the registered adult for adult leaders) 45 days before their account expires. No additional automated emails are sent. Please renew promptly as failing to do so requires additional manual follow up by troop leaders.
  • The child's parent completes the renewal request on Trail Life Connect including paying the renewal fee.
  • If renewing a registered adult, then the adult will receive an email to take the online Child Safety Youth Protection training. Please complete promptly or keep this email as other leaders in the troop cannot re-send it and we must contact Trail Life USA to have it resent. Once training is complete then a troop leader will approve the leader's renewal.
  • Renewal status will be updated and reflected on Trail Life Connect.

Fees

Fees are not tax deductible. The following fees are required and are current as of September 2019:

  • Local dues: $50 per child, each calendar year, paid upon registration and at the start of the year for each year thereafter. Trailmen who join between 1 January and 30 June (second half of the program year) pay a pro-rated amount of $25 for the remaining months in the program year. Local dues pay for the local operation of the troop such as buying awards, procuring camping equipment, or troop supplies for events such as water for camp outs.
  • National dues: Each registered trailmen requires $29.11 to be paid to Trail Life USA (national) via Trail Life Connect. National dues pay for the operation of Trail Life USA such as program development, insurance for Trail Life sponsored events, and administrative support.
  • Adult registration with Trail Life USA: $30.33 (per registered adult leader, per year). Note that becoming a registered adult leader is not required to register a child to participate. However, the troop must keep a minimum ratio of "registered adult leaders" to "registered trailmen" to maintain our membership with the national Trail Life USA organization. Also, please read the section on adult participation.

Uniforms do incur a cost and are described in the uniforms section. Uniform costs can vary from $15 to $100 per child but are a one time fee (until the uniform is outgrown).

Other fees can also be incurred throughout the year based on the activities. For example a camping outing may have a nominal fee to reserve a tent site. Many activities involve no fee. Examples include local hikes, visiting historic sites, and service or volunteer events.

The regular "Medical Form" does not require a doctor's signature but is required for participation. Participation in "high adventure" activities require an additional form called the "High Adventure Medical Form" which requires a doctor's signature which could incur a cost to you. High adventure activities are typically limited to older Trailmen (6th grade and above). Examples of "high adventure" activities include canoeing, rock climbing, back country camping and skiing. The "High Adventure Medical Form" can be completed at the same time as annual school physicals or sports physicals.

Uniforms

Uniforms can be purchased directly online from the Trail Life USA store. Uniforms are not required for visiting. It can take several weeks to receive uniforms once you order them. There are two types of uniforms for Trailmen:

  • An "activity uniform" for informal occasions including troop meetings and athletic activities. Our "activity uniform" is a Trail Life Wicking T-shirt in a color unique to each level (Woodland Trails, Navigators, Adventurers) and a tri-color hat. The T-shirt cost ranges from $15-20 and the hat costs $16-20. The activity uniform is expected for all levels.
  • A "formal uniform" for more formal occasions including ceremonies. It however has not traditionally been required for members of Woodland Trails (K-5th grade) but many youth still obtain one. The formal uniform has historically cost around $100 and includes a hat, shirt, pants, belt and socks.

For the "activity uniform," please order one of the following "Moisture Wicking T-shirts" in the appropriate color:

Woodlands Trail LinkTrail Link
Navigators Link
Adventurers Link

For the "formal uniform," you may order the TLUSA Uniform Shirt, TLUSA Uniform Pants, TLUSA Uniform Belt, and TLUSA Uniform Socks. These items can be found at the above links for the appropriate level.

Adult uniforms consist of the following options:

  • The activity uniform (for recreational activities) is the same as the child's. It is a moisture wicking T-shirt of the same color as your son's level (i.e. Woodland Trials is green, Navigators is grey and Adventurers is blue). See above.
  • For more formal occasions please use a red polo (either the travel or dry zone performance). Certain leadership roles such as the Trail Guides should use the formal troop uniform.
  • Both of the above are complemented by the standard tri-color hat.

Adult Participation and Leadership

Note: in the case of Foxes, adult participation is required due to the young nature of the Trailmen (Kindergarten - 1st grade). Trailmen ages Kindergarten through 6th grade are required to have a parent physically on site during the meetings.

The most basic recognized role is that of a "registered adult." Please consider helping us by requesting to register as an adult. This role simply requires you to complete the registration process as an adult and make yourself available to support your son's patrol. There is no obligation to serve beyond assisting the patrol. This simple registration allows you to help us meet our mandated ratio of registered leaders to Trailmen. Trail Life USA requires:

  • Two registered adult-leaders per unit of boys (for child-protection purposes).
  • A ratio of 1:4 for K-1st grade (registered leaders to trailmen).
  • A ratio of 1:8 for 2nd-3rd grade.
  • A ratio of 1:10 for 4th-12th grade.

Other opportunities exist to serve in direct-contact roles as the Trail Guide, Ranger, Trailmaster or Advisor. These leaders oversee the operation of specific age-level groups. They help plan activities, coordinate logistics and have many opportunities to coach and mentor Trailmen.

There are also more senior leadership roles that make up the "Troop Committee" which serves as the core leadership team. There are many ways to serve the committee and just a few roles include Chaplain, Treasurer, Secretary and Membership Chair.

A more complete overview of leadership roles can be found on this Trail Life webpage. Please consider serving in some capacity to help keep troop operations running smoothly.

Resources

Here are a few additional resources online to help you understand the Trail Life USA national organization a little better.

Trail Life Program Overview and Core Values
60 second Trail Life Overview (from the Trail Life YouTube channel)
Trail Life Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -- over 60 questions!
Trail Life Online Store
Trail Life Connect Help


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6911 Braddock Rd
Springfield, VA 22151

CONTACT

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703.941.4124
info@ibc.church

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