The Woodlands Trail program follows the national Trail Life guidelines. On this page, we will step through the basic parts of each level of advancement, which are the branches, and then move on to secondary and elective advancement.
Woodlands Trail (ages 5-10) is broken into three Patrols – Foxes, Hawks, and Mountain Lions (Fox Patrol ages 5-6, Hawk Patrol ages 7-8, Mountain Lion Patrol ages 9-10). These are typically based on age, but in some cases, we assign patrols based on grade (for boys with summer birthdays).
Parents please make sure you can log in to: Trail Life Connect
First Step – Joining Patches
When a Trailman joins a patrol (either by joining the troop or by promotion from a prior patrol), the first thing he will earn is his joining patch. The boy earns this patch by accomplishing the following:
- Memorize the Trailman Oath.
- Learn the Trailman Sign and when to use it.
- Learn the Trailman Salute and when to use it.
- Learn the Trailman Handshake.
- Memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. (Foxes need recite only)
- Demonstrate how to properly fold the American flag (Mountain Lions only)
It is on the joining patch that the Trailman will affix the branches that he earns in his first year of the patrol, which we will cover in the next section. The joining patch is worn on the right pocket of the Class A uniform. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
Second Step – Branches
As the season progresses, the Trailman will attend patrol meetings and hit-the-trail activities, and do at-home activities, which are all related to 7 key areas of learning:
- Heritage (Brown): An exploration of American Heritage, Christian Heritage, and a boy’s own family heritage. Emphasis is placed on upholding the finest traditions of the heritage we obtain from our forefathers.
- Life Skills (Burgundy): Teaching life lessons ranging from the practical and mundane to higher-level interpersonal skill sets.
- Science and Technology (Yellow): An exploration of physical and natural science concerning our created world.
- Hobbies (Black): An exploration of various indoor and outdoor hobbies that demand varying levels of knowledge, skill, or aptitude.
- Values (Red): Instilling Biblical-based values within the boys regarding any number of pertinent topics. The central focus of this branch is teachings of the Christian faith.
- Sports & Fitness (Green): Having fun in the outdoors with sports and other activities.
- Outdoor Skills (Blue): Having fun in the outdoors with sports and other activities.
Every year, the program will focus on material from these 7 areas of study. As a result, a Trailman who is with a patrol for the full two years will explore each of the 7 areas twice. After their first pass in one of these areas within their patrol, a Trailman will earn a branch, after they have completed the necessary activities. Foxes earn bronze branches, Hawks earn gold branches, and Mt Lions earn gold branches (Fox Patrol ages 5-6, Hawk Patrol ages 7-8, Mountain Lion Patrol ages 9-10). These branches are affixed to their joining patch on the corresponding color to the area completed. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
Third Step – Forest Award
After a Trailman earns all 7 branches (one for each area of study/skill development), their earn their Forest Award. This typically occurs at the end of the season awards ceremony (September) but can occur at other points during the year (for example, if the Trailman joined late and needed part of their second year to complete one or more area of study). The Forest award replaces the joining patch. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
Fourth Step – Sylvan Stars
As mentioned above, the lesson material cycles through all 7 areas each year, so a Trailman will study each area twice during their tenure with a patrol. The content is staggered so that they are studying different material each time – fire building in year one, knot tying in year two, for example, in the Outdoor Skills area. In the second pass through the material, once they have completed the required activities, they will earn a sylvan star, which they will affix to the appropriate color on their Forest Award. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
For each branch and star, the Trailman will be required to complete a certain number of activities (Fox Patrol ages 5-6, Hawk Patrol ages 7-8, Mountain Lion Patrol ages 9-10).
1) Core Lesson Material – for each branch, lessons will be taught that focus on fundamentals, such as fire safety. Trail Life places higher importance on some areas than others (Values, for example), so you may see more than one core lesson in a particular area during the program year.
2) Elective Lesson Material – after the core lesson material is taught, elective materials are learned, to help supplement the core material. For example, learning about nutrition is an elective taught as part of the sports and fitness area.
3) Hit-the-Trail Events – in the spirit of applied learning and adventure, Trailmen attend dedicated events focused on each of the 7 areas. Events may cover more than one area of learning. These events are scheduled in addition to the troop meetings. For example, an activity may be scheduled to accomplish Hit-the-Trail credit for both sports and fitness, and science and technology.
4) At-Home Activities – at-home activities may be used to make up for a missed core/elective lesson, or hit-the-trail activity. However, at-home activities are not intended to replace attendance at troop meetings. Depending on circumstances (illness, etc), extensive use may be permitted at the discretion of the Ranger and Troopmaster.
Special Awards – Worthy Life
During their time in a given patrol, in addition to the 7 areas of learning and practice, Trailmen may work toward a special faith-based achievement called the Worthy Life Award. This award is granted to those Trailmen who work through supplementary material that focuses on four D’s – Devotion, Discipleship, Discipline, and Demonstration. Accomplishing the requirements in these areas will involve the Trailman investing significant time outside of troop activities, studying scripture, performing acts of service, and bearing witness to their faith experience. Once during their two-year tenure in a patrol, the Trailman may earn a worthy life cross by completing all requirements assigned to his patrol level. For the first worthy life accomplishment, the Trailman will earn the Worthy Life award, upon which additional crosses can be placed, in addition to his first cross. For Woodlands Trail, a total of three Worthy Life crosses may be earned. This award is the only special award that may be worn by the Trailman through is entire time in the troop, from Woodlands Trail through Navigators and Adventurers (where additional crosses may be earned). The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
Special Awards – Timberline
The Timberline Award is the highest award a Trailman can achieve in the Woodlands program, and is based on the 4 manhood principles that form the basis of the Trail Life curriculum. Trail Life holds these principles as essential for understanding what it is to have a Godly identity as a man. In working toward the award, the Trailman will not only have to extensively study the four manhood principles, but also demonstrate them outwardly through interaction with others, both within the troop and without. The Timberline Award is only available to Mountain Lion Trailmen, and serves as the pinnacle of the Woodlands Trail. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com
Additional Achievements – Mountain Lions
While in the Mountain Lions patrol, Trailmen may work to earn two cards that indicate that they are recognized with specific skills, and these are Fireguard, and Woodsman. The first, Fireguard, indicates that the Trailman can safely build and manage fire, and is the key part of being allowed to do so at Troop events. The second, Woodsman, indicates that the Trailman can safely possess, use, and care for edged tools (knives and axes, generally). This card is required if the Trailman desires to bring an edged to any Troop event. While these are technically optional, the Troop highly encourages Mount Lion Trailmen to earn both as soon as they are able. The requirements can be found in the Woodlands Trail Handbook or on TrailLifeConnect.com