Amid rising social tensions in the U.S., one organization today challenged Americans to invite “someone different” to their Fourth of July cookout, calling for a “healing wave” across the nation. It’s time to stop grilling each other. Let’s enjoy the grill together!

“Jesus taught us to ‘love one another.’  Now, more than ever, America needs to put love into action,” said Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life, a national boys, Christian adventure movement that’s launching its first-ever nationwide Backyard Cookout and Campout for Independence Day, July 3-4. (

The South Carolina-based organization — which has more than 30,000 K-12th grade boys in 830-plus troops in every state — is inviting “every American to be part of the great wave of national healing that needs to take place on America’s birthday,” said Hancock. “The heart and soul of our nation could be at stake.”<image002.png>

Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA

In a winsome op-ed column entitled “America: Stop Grilling Each Other – And Let’s Enjoy the Grill Together” andpublished by CBN, Mark Hancock wrote:

It’s been a rough time for America.

Social media, the internet, and television have been swarming with confrontation and divisiveness. Unhelpful rhetoric is everywhere on the political stage. We haven’t seen America at its best, that’s for sure.

And on top of the strife, many of us feel anxious as we slowly emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons.

As we approach America’s big day on the Fourth of July, what can possibly help us, as a nation, begin to heal?

My suggestion? ‘Stop! Fire up the grill, and flip some burgers.

It’s America’s birthday on July Fourth — and we need to stop and remind ourselves why this nation, in spite of its warts, is still the best place in the world to live.

The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America — and look to the future with the optimism that we, as one people, have historically embraced since the birth of our country. This year, in particular, is also an opportunity to listen, to reach out to people who aren’t like us, and to bind wounds.

While I’m not so naive as to think that flipping burgers will solve the complex issues we are facing as a people, I am hopeful that each of us would do something if we knew what we could do.

Let’s stop finger-pointing and grilling each other — and, instead, enjoy the grill together.

There’s more to it than hotdogs, hamburgers, and the red, white and blue. The heart and soul of our nation could be at stake.

(You can read the whole column here.)

The event — which follows Trail Life USA’s first-ever National Backyard Campout in April and Backyard Movie Night in May, when more than 12,000 families across all 50 states took part in “virtual” campouts at home — comes as lockdown restrictions are being eased in many parts of the country, giving the green light to small gatherings that follow social-distancing guidelines.

Celebrate, Heal Around The Grill

“We’re inviting families across all 50 states to turn this event into a new ‘American revolution’ of respect and kindness, reaching out to neighbors and others outside their family and usual social circle, and seeking a meaningful, affirming dialog with someone different from themselves.”

Participants will be able to link up with other families across the nation via a secure online portal, sharing videos and photos of their own celebrations.

Live-streamed speakers on Friday, July 3rd at 4:00pm EDT will include Edward Graham — grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham — a U.S. Army Ranger Special Operations veteran who earned a Purple Heart in Iraq. Graham is assistant to the vice president of Operation Christmas Child for relief agency Samaritan’s Purse, an event partner.

Pro-life author and global speaker Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, will also join the virtual event, which is supported by Focus on the Family.

“We need to stop and remind ourselves why this nation, in spite of its warts, is still the best place in the world to live,” Hancock said.

Any family can register for the backyard virtual event at Trail Life USA’s website (, where they’ll find camping tips, outdoor recipes, and activity ideas contributed by thousands of Trail Life USA volunteers across the country.