David Benham and hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty have kicked off a nationwide backyard movie event for families nationwide as a way to lift morale during state lockdowns.
The “Backyard Movie Night and Campout” was organized by boys’ adventure group Trail Life USA, a Christ-centered mentoring and discipleship program alternative to the Boy Scouts and held on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people have signed up to participate via a real-time video link that they can stream right from their own backyards.
“This is the perfect occasion to watch a great movie with a message and make memories together with your family,” Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
Night one of the event we’ll showcase the inspirational movie “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” a film that Hancock says reflects Trail Life USA’s “core values of character and adventure.”
Benham, a bestselling co-author of Whatever the Cost and Living Among Lions, along with his twin brother, Jason, will be the event’s emcee. The Gettys, best known for the modern hymn “In Christ Alone,” will begin the virtual movie night with a performance.
“We’re all tired of being stuck inside our homes, and we’re desperate to get out and breathe the fresh air again,” Hancock said. “We’re inviting all families everywhere to join us on this special night, roast some marshmallows over your backyard campfire, look up at the sky, and make memories.”
The first Backyard Campout was held April 17 with more than 6,000 families participating in the event during the initial shelter-at-home orders.
“This tedious lockdown doesn’t have to get the better of us,” Hancock stressed. “We can turn this around to make some of the very best memories ever.”
Tens of thousands of families are now registered to participate in the backyard movie night this weekend. Others interested can register for free on Trail Life USA’s website. Families receive a movie link and camping tips, outdoor recipes, and activity ideas contributed by Trail Life USA volunteers across the country.
Trail Life CEO Mark Hancock told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday that his organization wanted to create a fun event amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We think that families need something to look forward to in this time and we wanted to create for kids a positive experience out of this difficult time,” Hancock said.
"Adults may look back on it as a time of uncertainty and shortages and layoffs, but kids can look back and say, 'wow, that's when our family came to the backyard.'"
Hancock told CP last month that Trail Life USA is seriously considering making the National Backyard Campout an annual event, even after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.
"Our initial thoughts were that we needed a special event in this special time,” he said, “but we're hearing from more families that they really like the idea and it will certainly be something we're considering for the future."
Trail Life USA was officially launched on New Year’s Day 2014 in response to the Boy Scouts of America voting to change their policies to allow for openly gay members.
“We believe that homosexuality is sinful and immoral, as is any sexual activity outside of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman,” the FAQ page states.
“Consistent with this belief, we have specific policies that address membership and sin in both youth and adult members.”
Trail Life USA also doesn't permit the chartering of a troop by any church that does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Non-Trinitarian denominations do not participate in our program because our specific Statement of Faith adheres to Trinitarian doctrine,” Trail Life USA states on its website.
Since its establishment in 2014, Trail Life USA has grown to include over 30,000 members and more than 830 troops in all 50 states.