Woodlands Trail Branch Overviews

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Woodlands Trail offers awards that can be earned at all unit levels within the program. Award criteria will be age-appropriate for the boy’s cognitive and physical levels of development. The following categories of awards may be earned by boys within the Woodlands Trail program:


This is the Joining Patch and is worn on the left pocket of the Trailman's uniform. This patch recognizes that the boy knows the basics of Trail Life USA which includes learning the oath, motto, salute, sign, and handshake. It is here he will attach his Branch pins as he completes them.


Earned at each age group upon completion of all 7 Branches. This patch is worn on the right pocket of the Trailman's Uniform. It is here he will attach his Sylvan Stars.

What is a Branch?

A Branch is an area of study. The same seven Branches are earned within all three age groups (Fox, Hawk, and Mountain Lion). The Branch awards correspond to the seven main instructional areas of the Woodlands Trail program. Branches are earned by completion of the requisite number of Steps within the two-year program period. A Branch Pin will be given for each Branch completed.

Topics for meeting plans are selected to teach participants lessons within 7 general areas of instruction. These broad areas of instruction are called “Branches” within the Woodlands Trail Unit. A description of these areas of instruction are provided below.

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.

Hobbies (Black): An exploration of various indoor and outdoor hobbies that demand varying levels of knowledge, skill, or aptitude.

Life Skills (Burgundy): Teaching life lessons ranging from the practical and mundane to higher-level interpersonal skill sets.

Outdoor Activities (Green): Having fun in the outdoors with sports and other activities.

Sports & Fitness (Blue): Having fun in the outdoors with sports and other activities..

Science and Technology (Yellow): An exploration of physical and natural science concerning our created world.

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.

What are Branch Pins and Sylvan Stars

Branch Pins and Sylvan Stars are the primary advancement pieces that are awarded on the Woodlands Trail. Branch Pins are affixed to Branch Patches and Sylvan Stars are affixed to Forest Awards. They are earned by completing a determined number of Core and Elective Steps in the seven color-coded Branches, as well as attending a "Hit the Trail" Troop outing or activity for each Branch.

In short, to earn a Branch Pin OR a Sylvan Star, a Trailman will complete the following in a particular Branch:

1. The required number of Core Steps, and

2. The required number of Elective Steps, and

3. One Hit the Trail! Activity for that Branch.

Two Family Home Activities (FHA) may be completed in place of a maximum of one Step or one Hit the Trail! (HTT) in each Branch.

The award representing each Branch earned changes with each age group so that there is differentiation between Branches earned as a Fox, a Hawk, and a Mountain Lion.

Hit the Trail! Activities

Hit the Trail! activities and projects can take many forms ranging from weekend events, after-school events, overnight events, camping trips, service projects or a summer adventure. Hit the Trail! meeting plans are provided for every Branch.

Family Activities

The Trailman may complete up to a maximum of two (2) Steps per Branch and an additional two (2) Steps per Sylvan Star by completing the assigned Family activity.

Our Basic Meeting Plan

Meeting plans revolve around a set curriculum to engage and teach program participants using six Program Emphases:

  1. FOCUS: The Focus portion of the patrol meeting is to provide an academic or instructional element. This is the emphasis of the patrol time together to lay a foundation that the other F’s will build upon. Meeting Plans have an emphases built around the Monthly themes.
  2. FINGERS : This portion offers an opportunity for the Trailmen to experience a project with “hands-on” learning. This should be based from the Focus teaching segment. It is understood that boys learn to apply a lesson better when they can see and build or make something that would remind them of what is being taught.
  3. FUN : This portion allows a time where Trailmen can burn off some energy. This is the time of the meeting for the Trailmen to play games or participate in a physical activity.
  4. FAMILY : The Family portion of the meeting is simply the family emphasis for the principle taught. As the Trailmen learn throughout the years, it is the desire of Trail Life USA and the Woodland Trails Program to inform and involve the family in the learning process as much as possible.
  5. FOREST BADGE : Identifies the Branch taught and Steps achieved during a meeting for each age group.
  6. FAITH: This final portion of the meeting communicates pertinent biblical truths, values, and wisdom corresponding to the lesson.


Special Awards

Special awards are provided for completion of certain activities, projects, or accomplishments. Special awards are named for the purpose for which they are given.

Mountain Lion Awards


Open to Mt. Lions, this is an additional learning tool for the Mountain Lions Patrol to help instruct them on fire safety. Upon the completion of this instruction, as well as hands-on learning, the Mountain Lion may earn the FIREGUARD CARD, which may be carried as proof of completion of skills necessary to handle all aspects of camp fire safety when going on outdoor activities with his Patrol, Troop, or family.


Open to Mt. Lions, this an additional learning tool for the Trailmen to help instruct on knife use and safety. Upon the completion of instruction, as well as hands on learning, the Trailmen may earn the WOODSMEN CARD which may be carried as proof of completion of skills necessary to handle all aspects of knife safety when going on outdoor activities with his family, Patrol, or Troop.

Timberline Award

The Timberline Award is the highest award a Trailman can achieve in the Woodlands Trail program. It was developed to celebrate a boy’s entrance into the new world of Trail Life USA’s Navigators program. Just as the tall timbers stop at the Timberline’s edge, so must a Mountain Lion’s time stop in the Woodlands Trail program. As the Trailman proceeds on his individual path, he leaves the Woodlands Trail and embarks on a new trail of exploration and experiences in the Navigators program.  More details about the Timberline Award here »

Worthy Life Award

The most important special award within the Woodlands Trail program centers on faith. This award is titled the Worthy Life Award. Requirements are different for different age groups. The award is earned once within each age group, with the badge for the award changing as the boy advances to the next age group.


Program Overview

Each Group in the woodlands Trail program (Fox, Hawk, Mountain Lion) is a 2 year program, and throughout the course of the program each Trailman will have the opportunity to see each branch of learning twice (and at different times of the year).  Our current schedule is as follows (but may be subject to change— see the troop schedule for exact details, for Hit the Trails and Campouts which also earn Steps towards their Branches)

Year A - 2020-21/ 22-23 Year B - 2021-22/  23-24
September Life Skills Values
Life Skills Values
October Outdoor Skills Sports & Fitness
Outdoor Skills Sports & Fitness
November Heritage Hobbies
Heritage Hobbies
December Values Science & Technology
Values Science & Technology
January Sports & Fitness Heritage
Sports & Fitness Heritage
February Hobbies Life Skills
Hobbies Life Skills
March Science & Technology Outdoor Skills
Science & Technology Outdoor Skills
April Heritage Heritage
Heritage Heritage
May Values Hobbies


This Article will be expanded in the future to describe the specifc branches of learning.  For now consult your Trail Life USA Woodlands Trail Handbook for details.