More than 1,200 former Scout officials, parents and youth from 44 states were attending the two-day national leadership convention where the group unveiled its name – Trail Life USA – and logo, officials with the group said. One of the founders John Stemberger, a former Eagle Scout and father of two scouts, created OnMyHonor.Net, a coalition of disgruntled BSA members who left the organization after the controversial vote in May.
“Most of us are coming from a highly-structured environment that has 103 years of culture and language and program and symbols … and we are starting from scratch,” Stemberger said late Friday as he asked for patience as the group began “a program that we believe will be stronger, safer and more principled in every way.”
Whether the faith-based group gains popularity in the coming months could signal how successful the Boy Scouts of America will be at keeping members when the new policy takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. BSA members were deeply divided over the decision to allow gay teens, with many vowing to quit the program.
“I do feel strongly enough about the policy that I don’t want my kids there” in the Boy Scouts, said Jonathan Pickens, a California firefighter and father of three young boys who had not yet joined Scouting before the change in the membership guidelines. An Eagle Scout who has 22 years in the BSA with the troop that his dad founded, Pickens -- who opposed lifting the ban on gay Scouts -- would rather “take a little bit of a blind leap of faith and try to make this work.”