The Meaning of each Fold in a Flag-Folding Ceremony

A Trailman loves his country and respects the flag.

For navigators, one required badge is the “our Flag” badge. Every Trailman must demonstrate a proficiency in leading a variety of flag ceremonies and understand its history along with that of the pledge of allegiance and national anthem. Along with these requirements, the Trailman must teach what he has learned, actually run a flag ceremony in the community, and go “deep” into the meaning and significance of our flag.

One such way to do this last requirement is include in a flag ceremony or by itself, a presentation of the meaning of each of the 13 folds required to properly fold an American flag.

  1. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
  2. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
  3. The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
  4. The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is Him we turn to in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.
  5. The fifth fold is a tribute to our country. In the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
  6. The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  7. The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
  8. The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
  9. The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood. It has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that has molded the character of the men and women who have made this country great.
  10. The 10th fold is a tribute to father, who has also given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.
  11. The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  12. The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
  13. The 13th and last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

New Youth ID Cards!

Official Trail Life USA Lanyard with Sleeve (set of 10) | Trail Life USA

The Trail Life Home Office is excited to announce a brand new design to our Youth ID cards. These new cards are customized specifically for each Trailman with their current Troop/patrol role and advancement record. A new feature within Trail Life Connect automatically updates each Trailman’s ID card with their recorded Branches, Sylvan Stars, Ranks, Awards, Titles, Badges, and Trainings in real time! Parents and Troop leaders can print Trailmen’s ID cards anytime they want directly from the Trailman’s profile in Trail Life Connect. By the way, adults also can print their ID cards from their profiles anytime they choose. And finally, remember that the ID cards serve a bigger purpose than a name card; they are a critical piece for both youth and adults in our efforts of child safety and youth protection.

Troop leaders, log in and update your Trailmen’s records today so that they can start this Fall with their fully updated ID Card!

If you need a lanyard to go with it, pick yours up today at the Trail Life store here.

Answering Racism and Violence with Christ

A Trailman honors God and treats others as he wants to be treated. Racism is a violation of a Trailman’s oath and Christianity. Created in the image of God, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity. 1 Cor 12:13.

Recently, all Trailmen had the opportunity to participate in a series of backyard campouts. During the final campout, Trailmen and their families were encouraged to watch the movie The Pilgrim’s Progress, free of charge.

In light of the recent protests and riots, we are encouraging our Trailmen to take advantage of another opportunity. Over 50 years ago a pastor named David Wilkerson felt God leading him to New York City to face violence and racism head on. This incredible true story was made into the file, The Cross and the Switchblade. 

The online viewing of the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Cross and the Switchblade is made available by RevelationMedia, a ministry committed to quality Christian content for Americans and the front lines of missions. To watch the movie for free you can follow this link:


Manhood is under attack at every level. In a culture where masculinity and toxicity are often synonymous. Where the media consistently portray men as abusers and buffoons, many boys are finding themselves unsure about what it means to be a man – or if they should even aspire to be one. The need for stalwart men to step up is greater than ever. It is imperative we raise up a new generation of warriors for Christ who understand courageous manhoodBoys are searching for men who provide a positive example of what it means to be a man. Walk with me through five stages of growing biblically bold, courageous men of character.

In the book of Proverbs, the danger of snares and traps are a common theme. After teaching a Sunday School class for many years, i realized there are common traps teenagers fall into during these important developmental years. Over time, I developed 16-18 traps I would present that teens commonly came across. Everything from sex and pornography, to peer pressure. Topics ranging from drugs and alcohol, to bad attitudes toward parents and so on. 

On one occasion, I literally set up bear traps in the classroom, asked a boy to remove his shoes, blindfolded him, and requested he navigate from one side of the room to the next—through all of those traps. The illustration was so effective, when I was at a Promise Keepers Conference at Mile High Stadium in Denver, I asked a father to come up on stage and help his son navigate barefoot through the traps. What the father chose to do brought the stadium to its feet.

Instead of standing passively to the side and directing his son vocally, the father had his son put his hands on his shoulders and walk behind him as he navigated through each step of the course. God used that unplanned illustration to reveal far more than I could’ve planned.

The 41,000 men in the stadium that day stood to their feet and cheered. Why? Because they saw a dad standing up to actively lead his son through the traps this life and the devil set for our kids. But more than that, they saw a dad whom they wished would’ve help them when they were younger. They wished they had a dad who would’ve guided them on the right way of living with the Scripture. You can watch the full video below.

How are you engaging your sons or the young men God has entrusted to you? We’re facing traps more today than ever before. How we as fathers and mentors navigate the traps in our lives matters. We are an example for our sons and a model for our daughters of what a man really looks like. What’s it look like to step up as a mom or dad? Or as a mentor? Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

I’ve determined there are five steps outlined in the Bible that speak to the path of manhood: 

Step #1 Boyhood

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” —1 Corinthians 13:11

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a, said in an interview with me, “I’d rather build boys than mend men.” He’s right.

What is boyhood? It’s a time of adventure and discovery. But a boy without a father or a mentor is like an explorer without a compass—or a map—or a GPS. Boys need men who know the way and who are staying out of the traps.

I interviewed John Wooden when he was 92 years old. When he came into the studio, he quoted a poem about being a boy that was given to him in 1936 when he became a dad.

A careful man I must be, this little fellow follows me. 
I know I dare not go astray, for fear he’ll go the self-same way.
He thinks that I am good and fine, believes in every word of mine. 
The base in me he must not see, this little chap who follows me. 
I must be careful as I go, through Summer sun and Winter snow.
Because I am building for the years to be, this little chap who follows me. 

Step #2 Adolescence

This step wasn’t in the dictionary in 1920. It’s not until modern day that the word “teenager” came about. Adolescence is a confusing time. It’s a time of identity crisis. A time of self-doubt, selfishness, lack of self responsibility, pressing the limits, and pushing back against authority. It is a time when many boys are angry, lustful, and driven by hormones. It is stage one in moving from dependence on mom and dad to independence. 

A boy was not designed by God to move into this stage by himself. He was designed to do that with a pair of people helping him. Holding him up. Equipping him. Teaching him to face upward and forward at what’s ahead. 

Barbara and I had six kids in ten years. We took a year and explored what the irreducible elements of raising a child from the Scriptures. We interviewed professors, pastors, many experts. We asked them, “What are the basic elements God wants us to build in to our children’s lives?” I started with a long list of ideas.

After talking with many experts, I narrowed down to four things. There are four essentials, I unpack them in The Art of Parenting, but they are the four things every boy needs:

  1. Community. God says love Him and love others. We were made for relationships. We must train our kids to love others and love God. It’s the road into a boy’s heart. It’s what Trail Life USA is doing.
  2. Character. It’s choosing what’s right instead of wrong. You’re training boys to know wisdom. Taking Scripture and applying it to life. Teach your kids where you’ve seen God work and when you’ve had dry spirit times—as age appropriate. 
  3. Commitment – Identity. Teach your son to work. When I developed this list in 1990, I had no way of knowing that over the next three decades, the issue of gender and sexual identity would become  ground zero of the cultural battle.  We must teach our boys the importance of marriage and commitment.  We must teach them to honor and respect the opposite sex.
  4. Commission. A boy needs to know he is God’s workmanship. He needs to know and understand his calling.

Step #3 Manhood

The Bible teaches us to not straddle boyhood and manhood. God calls us to move forward and become men. The way we become real men is by surrendering to Christ. As men, we are called to decide what we believe—and then live it out. We cannot spend a ton of time doubting. Instead, we should learn to live out and be faithful with the truth we know. 

First Corinthians 16:13-14 says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.”

What comprises manhood? 

  • Be watchful. Be on the alert. 
  • Stand firm. Choose wisdom over foolishness. If you make something wrong—make it right. 
  • Act like men. Men are called to be courageous. Read the Book of Joshua! Courage is doing what’s right in the face of fear. Men are too passive today. We have a saying in our family, “The easiest thing to do is nothing.”
  • Be strong. If you’re going to lead your kids. You have to turn from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:16), and do hard things. You’ll have to be strong in the faith—not weak. 
  • Let all you do be done in love. Think about marriage for example. We’ve replaced commitment with divorce. There are difficult seasons in life. But as men, we should seek to never use the d-word that is divorce. 

Step #4 Mentor

Trail Life USA is all about mentoring boys. Second Timothy 2:2 says, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

To every man, I have two questions:

1) Who are you mentoring?

2) Who is your mentor? 

Step #5 Patriarch

The patriarch definition or meaning has been lost over generations. We need to bring it back. Psalm 71:17-18 says, “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

Our assignment isn’t to retire and simply play golf, hunt, and vacation. The world will trap you into the idea of unplugging and living for yourself. Winston Churchill called people to action saying, “On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting, died.”

Let’s be men of action. Let’s call people to action. To doing well. To being faithful. Too many guys are trading their sword for a 9-iron. The patriarch connects younger generations to God. He loves Christ. He’s an influencer. He prays for the next generation. He’s an intercessor.

One of the things that has gotten me out of bed for the last 49 years of ministry is Acts 13:36 which say, “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep.” It sure appears to me that Trail Life USA is one of God’s purposes for this generation. Mark Hancock didn’t have to stand up when he did. He would’ve probably had fewer head aches if he didn’t start Trail Life!

One man said, “God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines.” The Bible is about guys who failed. God used them, He can use us. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to do it. We’re training the next generation to be warriors for Christ. 

This post is based on presentation by Dennis Rainey, Co-founder of FamilyLife at Trail Life USA’s annual Rise Up convention. 


Manhood is in crisis today. The increasingly accurate term “perpetual adolescence” is not a reference to girls failing to grow up. We intuitively know it refers to 20- and 30-something men. Men are falling behind women in college enrollment and graduation; they’re increasingly unemployed; and traditionally male-dominated industries are disappearing. They are more likely to be homeless and to use and abuse all almost all types of illicit drugs and alcohol. Ninety-nine percent of all prison inmates are male, as well as 98 percent of death-row inmates. Men are not doing well. In many ways, they are becoming the “weaker sex.”

Much of this has to do with the nature of manhood itself. The truth is, while maleness just happens – Manhood does not. And there is a great difference between the two. The first is a biological event. The second is a developed character quality. Manhood must be constructed—and when it doesn’t, it fails to develop. Hence, perpetual male adolescence, often found in the form of a dude living in his parents’ basement…

The boy’s transition into manhood is not similarly predetermined. It must be created with significant intentionality. In other words, manhood is a behavior that must be taught, and an identity that must be bestowed by a boy’s family and the larger community of men—his parents, extended family and surrounding community. 

The male nature doesn’t naturally go in the direction society needs it to go. It is more oriented toward extremes—lethargy and passivity, or aggression and opportunism. Manhood must be crafted.

This brings us to the crux of the issue, Manhood can only really be taught and developed by older men, instructing and showing what is expected of the boy in order to become a part of the fraternity of good men. Mothers and girlfriends cannot deliver it. 

The primary question is how one generation of men accomplishes this in their service to the next generation of women, children and society. And particularly, how we do it in today’s culture with all its unique challenges? This question and its answer must become a national concern sustainability as it affects industry and economics, criminality, health care, education and every other essential part of any community. It is the work of human culture and well-being.

What are the qualities of manhood?

Manhood is not so much about anatomy and age as it is about a particular type of character. If we did not all have a general idea that courageous manhood is a definite and distinct thing, the statement, “He is not a man,” would have little meaning. But it has immediate meaning, and we take it as a strong rebuke upon the person. 

As we seek to bring young men into healthy and authentic manhood, we must ask, “What are we shooting for, and what does this look like when done successfully?”

This question can be more complex than many assume. One can be a “good man” and quite different in temperament, talents and interests than other men. Teddy Roosevelt was a different kind of “good man” than Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Rogers was no Chuck Norris. Yo-Yo Ma is not Franklin Graham. Each was, or is, a good man, though. But these differences do not mean we cannot speak meaningfully and truthfully about what manhood is, and is not. Good men do have basic common qualities. 

Courageous: A man does not shrink from a necessary challenge, regardless of risk. He will face danger, difficulty and self-denial when called upon for the sake of others.

Steps Up: A man is the first one out of his seat (figuratively and literally) when a need arises. He’s a problem solver and takes initiative. Passivity is never manly. 

Provides and Protects: A man has learned how and is willing to provide and care for a particular woman and their common children. He doesn’t skip out on this duty. Even if he never marries, he’s the kind of person who could do this and, in fact, provides for others in various ways. As anthropologist David Gilmore concludes, “A man produces more than he consumes,” and the community benefits from his work and generosity. 

Self-Reliance: A man can stand on his own without depending on others for his well-being. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” because the man doesn’t want to have to depend on the preparedness of others. He is not a loner, though. He is willing to work with others.

Honesty and Moral Strength: A man does what is right and calls out others who do not. He deals with others in integrity. Temptation presents itself to every man, but the decisions and actions he takes in light of it significantly determine his manhood. He can be trusted to do what is right when no one is watching. He keeps his word and is dependable.

Tenacity: A man does not easily give up or shrink away in the face of challenge or adversity. He sticks with it and wants to overcome obstacles. “It can’t be done” is not a conclusion he reaches with ease.

Self-Control: A man is aware of his proper limits for himself—his strength, appetites, independence, language and power—and respects them. He calls others to do the same.

Under Authority: A man recognizes he is under the authority of another—be it a boss, his own father, his pastor or God—and acts accordingly. He is willing to respectfully challenge those in authority when conscience demands, but he is never simply a renegade.

Shows Respect: A good man shows respect to himself and those he meets, regardless of their station. He looks them in the eye. Gives another man a firm handshake. Offers words of respect such as “Yes sir/ma’am” or “Thank you, sir.” A man helps others feel valuable.

Loyalty: A man is loyal to his family, friends and others who are close to him, even at great price to himself.

Humility: A man esteems others as valuable and lifts them up. He does not praise himself. He understands the importance of and strength in apologizing and asking forgiveness when he has offended or let others down.

Compassion: This might seem a feminine quality, but a man sees the struggles of the weak and those in trouble and readily comes to their aid. This is a moral strength. A man doesn’t exploit an innocent person’s weakness.

Lives His Character: Lastly, if manhood is a distinct set of character traits, the final quality is that he lives them out in action, and he does so conspicuously in the community.

Christianity is unique because in it, we see that God became man: fully God, fully man.

Jesus became the ideal of manhood, exhibiting all the qualities of a good man. He was strong, took responsibility for His actions, served and provided for others. He looked after and cared for the weak. He spoke truth faithfully and gracefully. He demonstrated integrity in all He did. He was a man under authority. He stood up to and called out the powerful when necessary. He was the highest example of humility, moral strength, self-control and compassion. He always did the right thing. Finally, He gave Himself completely and fully for others. He withstood and overcame the greatest evil in the universe. He was victorious, and He invites each of us to become the beneficiaries of all that He has done for us! That is manhood.

Anyone who wants to learn what a good man is needs only study and imitate the life of Jesus. It is right there for us in the Gospel.

Abridged from Glenn T. Stanton

Service to our Veterans

OR226 Flag Pole 1
A Journey Adventurer from OR-0226 in Hillsboro, went to the Rock Creek Retirement home and fixed their flag pole that didn’t have a Halyard. They were able to put in the main halyard and a spare so that they could fly a flag for Veterans Day. #TraillifeUSA #walkworthy

OR226 Flag Pole 2

A Journey Adventurer from OR-0226 in Hillsboro, went to the Rock Creek Retirement home and fixed their flag pole that didn’t have a Halyard. They were able to put in the main halyard and a spare so that they could fly a flag for Veterans Day. #TraillifeUSA #walkworthy

Say Cheese!

OR226 Tillamook
Troop OR-0226 troop on a trip to the Tillamook Forestry Center last month, where they made progress in their Science and Technology branch by learning about God’s creation!

Area Troops Meet Up for a Retreat (and fun)

In June, Troops OR-0315, OR-1531, WA-0360 and WA-0314 met up at the Brigittine Monastery for a weekend of camping, prayer, and fun.  During the day, the Trailmen got to know one another while performing service projects, competing in a variety of games, and worship.  As evening approached the fire was lit and each Troop did their spirited best to out skit and sing one another, eventually setting down to a talk, group prayer, and the cracker-barrel and some nighttime capture the flag.  It was such a positive experience that all agreed to meet up again next summer!

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Mass was a part of the Trailmen Meetup on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Trailmen look at a handout that augmented the evening talk.

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Service is an important component of the life of a Trailman.

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Ga Ga Ball was one constant that Trailmen took advantage of during their free time.

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Human Foosball!

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During the weekend, teams took part in various games of skill with recognition going to winners of each event and overall.