- Associated Press - Friday, April 17, 2020

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - A Christian scouting group based in South Carolina is encouraging families to camp out Friday night.

But instead of going deep in the wilderness, Trail Life USA wants folks to bring their laptops and cellphones into their tents in their backyards around the country and join together in a virtual night around the campfire. That’s all due to the coronavirus.

Creating good memories, like a night under the stars, is critical for families especially in bad times when jobs are lost and loneliness is creeping in, Trail Life USA CEO Mark Hancock said.

“We’re obeying all social distancing rules, but we want to make it an event,” Hancock said. “Families can make good memories - ‘wow, that’s the night out family camped out in the backyard’ instead of remembering the shortages and the layoffs.”

Trail Life USA was created in 2013 as a Christian-based alternative to the Boy Scouts. The organization has 800 troops in 50 states with about 30,000 members. It also has handbooks, uniforms and ranks like Boy Scouts.



Troops have kept meeting through social media and video chats during social distancing, so a virtual camp out that everyone can attend, from fathers and sons to daughters and mothers just made sense, Hancock said.

“Normally you wouldn’t find us out camping with laptops and phones, but it is an interesting time,” Hancock said.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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