KNOXDALE — The year 2017 will be remembered in the life of Dylan Manns for at least three significant milestones in his young adult life: his high school graduation, completing basic training in the U.S. Marine Corps and receiving the “Freedom Award” from Trail Life USA.

The latter two achievements were celebrated together at the Center Hill Community Church near Knoxdale while he was home on a Christmas leave from his Marine Corps duties.

His parents, Steve and Cindy Manns, coordinated the observance attended by a large crowd of well-wishers and officials from the Trail Life USA organization.

Trail Life USA was founded in 2013 as a Christ-centered outdoor adventure, leadership and character development ministry, as stated on the group’s website (

Steve Manns is troopmaster of Trail Life USA Troop 68, which is sponsored by the Center Hill Church that owns the local Charter and governs the troop. He was also the Scoutmaster of the former Boy Scouts of America Troop 68 in Sigel where Dylan, and his brother, Justin, had grown up in that program.

When the BSA organization made a dramatic change regarding membership, founders of Trail Life USA set about forming a group that would adhere to conservative, Bible-based principles and purposes.

Serving as master of ceremonies at his son’s award ceremony, Steve Manns said that the boys in the Boy Scout Troop 68 were given a vote in changing from that program to the Trail Life one. The vote was unanimous.

Many of the founders of Trail Life USA have long associations with the Boy Scouts and developed a system to allow transfer of any ranks achieved to the new organization. The “Freedom Award” is the equivalent of a Boy Scout Eagle Award but with additional requirements.

In describing the wood staff that each Trail Life USA member is given to record their various achievements, Steve Mann outlined the medallions on Dylan’s. It is a memento each troop member keeps individually.

Mann also explained the meaning of the nine components of the Freedom Award insignia, each of which has one or more Biblical references.

Bill McCall, New York State/Western PA Point Man, noted that Dylan Mann was the first recipient of the “Freedom Award” in the New York State/Western PA region.

Jim Raimey, Ohio Training chairman for Trail Life, shared the motto of the organization – “Walk Worthy” from Colossians 1:10 that encourages Christians to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him.” He also wished Dylan Manns “God Speed” for safety in his Marine Corps service.

Dan Gilbert, another long-time member of the former Boy Scout Troop 68 and who is now part of the local Trail Life one, reflected on the need for the new organization, saying of it and the young members, “Our future is in good hands.”

Speaking on behalf of state Rep. Cris Dush, Diane Welsh said their office was going to be working on changing the wording of citations offered from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that now only are available to those receiving a BSA Eagle Scout honor.

She presented Dylan Manns with a certificate of recognition and promised to “educate those in Harrisburg” about Trail Life USA.

U.S. Rep. Glenn T. Thompson, although unable to attend the ceremony, also sent a certificate of recognition for Mann.

Those wishing to learn more about the Trail Life USA organization may visit the website or contact Steve Manns at (814) 715-2498 or e-mail to

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