Sometimes we need others to speak into the gifts God’s planted within us.

American Heritage Girls, a Christ-centered leadership and character development organization for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade, creates an uplifting and united atmosphere.

Troop KY3130 shepherd Mary Tatum, who also leads the Shine Disabilities Ministry at Southeast Christian Church, said her 12-year-old daughter experienced great encouragement by being a member of American Heritage Girls.

“Hannah’s favorite part is now helping lead a Bible study with the younger girls in the troop,” Tatum said. “Her first time leading she felt it didn’t go too well, but the older women and younger girls poured into her and encouraged her. A lot of teenage girls don’t see the gift inside of them, and it takes others to help them see that God-given gift. American Heritage Girls is about building that community around you.”

Meetings for Troop KY3130 are held the second and fourth Mondays of the month, September through May, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Blankenbaker Campus in ED 280.

The girls earn badges throughout the year in areas such as our heritage, personal well-being, family living, the arts, science and technology and outdoor skills. They also participate in a variety of activities like family camping trips, overnight lock-ins and volunteering in the church and community.

Troop KY3130 Leader Sarah Taylor, who’s led for nine years, said the girls not only serve, but serve in style.

“Service is a big part of American Heritage Girls,” Taylor said. “There are many opportunities to serve at Southeast and in other ways. I will mention that there’s a lot of fun involved, too. The girls are bonding, giggling and laughing together while they serve others and those in the community.”

From rock-climbing to public speaking, American Heritage Girls gives girls a space to gather and grow as leaders.

“It’s been great from my perspective to watch my 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, grow, develop leadership skills and gain confidence over the years,” Taylor added. “I can see that blossoming in her.”

“This gives every girl an opportunity to speak, to challenge each other and to try things they normally wouldn’t try,” Tatum added. “It’s a testing ground to see which things they are good at and enjoy doing.”

Trail Life USA

Back in the day, it was normal for boys to spend all day outside. Now, parents must be intentional about getting their kids out of the house.

Trail Life USA gives boys that opportunity.

“This is a way for a young man and his father to experience the outdoors and wonders that God has given us,” said Trail Life Troop KY-4:13 Ministry Liaison Ron Smith. “Jesus sat around a campfire and shared stories with His disciples. He camped, hiked, fished and explored. Jesus did these things. It’s kind of the same way it works when we’re camping and backpacking. It’s a group of men and sons or boys coming together to form Christ-like relationships.”

Trail Life is a Christ-centered, mentoring and discipleship program for boys in kindergarten through 12th grade that partners with local churches to empower men to develop the next generation of character-rich servant leaders through outdoor adventure.

Meetings for Troop KY-4:13 are held Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Blankenbaker Campus in the lower Fellowship Hall.

Boys earn badges in areas such as outdoor skills, citizenship, character, friendship and faith. Boys and leaders also go on camping trips and do service projects.

Smith, who has volunteered with Trail Life for five years, said it’s vital to steer boys down the right path.

“We’re in desperate times for the heart and soul of our kids,” Smith added. “If we don’t try to do something about it and provide a ministry to mentor these young men, they’re going to get involved in stuff that is going to take them down the wrong trail. We want to make sure we get them on the right trail.”

As boys progress through the program, they receive more responsibility to conduct regular weekly meetings and plan outdoor expeditions and service projects.

“That’s where we develop our leaders is in this atmosphere,” he said. “One of the hardest things to do for a leader is to step back and let our boys do it. If they make a mistake, they’ll learn from them. The reward that I get is to see that boy make those mistakes, but then grow and mature in his Christian walk and leadership.”

American Heritage Girls Troop KY3130 and Trail Life Troop KY-4:13 will host a joint informational meeting to kick off the season Monday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Six Plex at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus. The meeting will begin together, but then boys and girls will break into two separate groups.