In Trail Life USA, troops are organized according to biblical principles in Proverbs 24:3-4, reflecting developmentally appropriate groupings of boys (K-U-W-L): Woodlands Trail (Knowledge), Navigators (Understanding), Adventurers (Wisdom), and Guidon (Life).

The Navigators Program is designed for young men of middle-school age. The Trailmen are eager to move up from Woodlands Trail and take the outdoor program to the next level. They enjoy hiking and camping just like the older Adventurers but they benefit from more structure and supervision. It is good for these boys to get as involved in the planning process as they are able. They learn much from the decisions made by adult leaders, but they learn even more from the reasoning behind the decisions.

During their three years in the Navigators program, Trailmen work on rank advancement. Their ranks represent a growing ability to operate comfortably, safely, and confidently in the outdoors. These skills will form the foundation of later adventures and teach important life lessons in character development.

Navigators participate in a true outdoor program with hiking, camping, and other activities. They are in more of a learning mode, developing their core skills with adequate supervision and easing gracefully into camping by patrols. As they climb through the ranks of Journey Trailman, Able Trailman, and Ready Trailman, they will lay a safe and comfortable foundation for the challenges of the Adventurers Program.

Boys in the Navigators Patrols range in age from 10 to 14 years old. You will notice fantastic personal growth in these boys as they progress in this particular age range. They will become competent in the outdoor program through earning the nine Ready Trailman required Trail Badges and participating in the outdoor program. They have great prospects for accomplishment and maturity if their energies are properly focused.

Navigators have a simple patrol structure. The youth leader is a Junior Patrol Leader, and members are called upon as needed to step up and handle certain jobs during meetings or activities according to the duty roster. They should camp, cook, and eat by patrol during outings whenever practical. Junior Patrol Leaders should maintain order unless they encounter undue resistance from the patrol members in question. Preferably the Trail Guide or Trailmaster only gets involved when youth leaders are not making satisfactory progress and then, if possible, only to the extent of backing up the Junior Patrol Leader’s authority. Direct involvement in correction should be an avenue of last resort.

Navigator Ranks

Navigators advance through three ranks: Recruit Trailman, Able Trailman, and Ready Trailman. If earned, they retain the rank of Ready Trailman when they become Adventurers:

The Recruit has taken his first big step as a Trailman. He is starting out on the trail with a can-do attitude that will help him meet the challenges ahead. This is a joining rank that concentrates on being safe and knowing how to plug in to all the resources available in one’s troop family. The Recruit attends his first hikes and campouts, and makes new friends in his troop.




Earn the Able Trailman Rank. Trail Badge Work:

  • Complete the following nine required Trail Badges: Aquatics, Camping, Fire Ranger, First Aid, Our Flag, Outdoor Cooking, Ropework, Trail Skills, and Woods Tools. 
  • Earn a total of five elective Trail Badges of your choice since joining as a Navigator.  (Note: the Horizon required Trail Badges cannot be earned in the Navigators program) 

Servant Service: 

  • Complete 15 hours of service for each year as a Navigator. Record your hours on the service chart in your handbook and have them verified by an adult. 

Troop Involvement: 

  • Maintain a level of Troop meeting attendance acceptable to your Trailmaster (typically 60% or better). 
  • Participate in at least 16 Troop activities since becoming a Navigator, not including regular meetings. Record each activity on the activity chart in your handbook (trips, camp, community outings, etc.) and have each one verified by an adult. 


Since earning the Able Trailman Rank, serve as a Junior Patrol Leader for a minimum of six months or (pick one):

  • At five Troop meetings, demonstrate your leadership ability by planning and instructing Recruit or Able Trailmen in significant Ready Trailmen required Trail
  • Badge skills approved by your Trailmaster or Trail Guide.
  • At five Troop meetings, demonstrate your leadership ability by planning and instructing a Woodlands Trail group in significant skills approved by your Trailmaster or Trail Guide and the Woodlands Trail Ranger.


Complete one of the following Faith Building Activity options and discuss it with your Trailmaster or Trail Guide:

  • Any Trail Life USA Values Branch Trail Badge The Navigators Christian Faith Activities option.
  • A Navigators level Christian religious recognition (according to your denomination.)
  • A Navigators Trail Life USA approved father-and-son Group discipleship Program, such as the manhood Journey Program.

Marks His Progress:

  • Successfully complete an Advancement Conference with your Trailmaster or Trail Guide. 
  • Successfully complete a Board of Review. 

The Able Trailman is truly an able man. He knows how to hike safely and comfortably and handle a lot of situations that might come up. These skills are the foundation for the next ranks. This rank concentrates on being comfortable in the outdoors. The Able Trailman learns a number of things that a Trailman is expected to know about nature, America, and leadership.

The Ready Trailman is ready for whatever happens. He has a full set of camping skills and does his fair share of the work as well as the fun. This rank concentrates on making a boy a useful fellow to have around camp. A Ready Trailman is competent in his outdoor skills and prepared for a variety of outdoor adventures. He will learn many things that will make him handy to have around. People expect a competent outdoorsman to have a successful attitude about most things in life, and the trail to Ready Trailman will help him develop that attitude.