Tom TrailsFor those who haven’t seen this yet–what a goldmine (thanks to Paula for the reference).

As the site says, “Tom Trails is a filmstrip series originally released in 1968 by the Church Educational System of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was intended as a comprehensive tool to teach gospel principles in seminary and Institute of Religion classes. Constructed as a 17-chapter series to be shown one at a time in connection with a particular lesson topic, the filmstrip as a whole told one continuous and quite elaborate story. With a total running time of 3 hours and 34 minutes, the Tom Trails series was filled with just about every kind of challenge that could confront a young person–from heartache to attempted murder–and offered a chance for redemption. Much of this message was probably missed, however, because the earnest narration, simple musical score, and marvelously bad acting stole the show. But that was and is the charm of Tom Trails.

It seems that most people who saw Tom Trails when it was an active part of the CES program have left its charm to history, since few young or newer members of the church know the film strip series today. But I believe that not only would the original seminary and institute audience of Tom Trails appreciate a look back, but younger generations would appreciate the glimpse into the church’s perspective on coming of age in the late 1960s–the era of Viet Nam, free love, and really bad eyewear.”

It even includes the “beeps” to advance the filmstrip!!! How I miss those beeps.

Please check out, and support the Tom Trails project. :)


  1. CraigBa! July 27, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    “You can make your own bright future, Tom Trails!”

  2. CraigBa! July 27, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    Does it include the episode where Tom dresses down his teacher over evolution?

  3. CraigBa! July 30, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    I *own* this topic. Has no one else here ever seen “Tom Trails?”

    And John, can you include those beeps in a Powerpoint presentation? If not, can you speak to your contacts at Microsoft and get them to make it so?

  4. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 7:53 am

    Apparently I’ve found my own little corner of the web. I could write abything here and no one would ever notice.





  5. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 8:00 am

    Actually, I think what’s so great about “Tom Trails” and all the old classroom filmstrips and movies is that the production values are so minimal. It isn’t slick or fancy. It focuses on getting across a simple message. And because of that it’s so memorable.

    Today we’ve gotten so carried away with high gloss and fancy directing and funky camera angles and lame soundtracks that it’s too easy to ignore the message of a film.

    Do you think folks 20 years from now will remember The Legend of Johnny Lingo with the same sense of nostalgia that we remember the original? Give me that old-time camp. Give me The Carpenters and Mr. Rogers and The Brady Bunch. It beats Britney Spears and the Olsen Twins any day of the week.

    Discuss amongst yourselves. I’m sure the debate will be heated.

  6. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 8:05 am

    I’m just gunna keep posting here on and on and on. Maybe I can make this the first Mormon Stories thread to hit 300 posts.

  7. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 8:08 am

    I’m So Ronery
    I’m so ronery
    So ronery
    So ronery and sadry arone

    There’s no one
    Just me onry
    Sitting on my rittle throne
    I work very hard and make up great prans
    But nobody ristens, no one understands
    Seems that no one takes me serirousry

    And so I’m ronery
    A little ronery
    Poor rittre me

    There’s nobody
    I can rerate to
    Feer rike a bird in a cage
    It’s kinda sihry
    But not rearry
    Because it’s fihring my body with rage

    I work rearry hard and I’m physicarry fit
    But nobody here seems to rearize that
    When I rure the world maybe they’rr notice me
    But untir then I’rr just be ronery
    Rittre ronery, poor rittre me
    I’m so ronery
    I’m so ronery

  8. John Dehlin August 2, 2006 at 8:39 am


    I love you, man. :)

  9. -Domokun- August 2, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Serious topical question: Was “Leon’s Truck” part of the Tom Trails series?

  10. paula August 2, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Well, obviously I’ve seen it too, since I mentioned it on another thread. It may be that most of the folks who read this blog are too young to have seen it in seminary. But if you want to know which episodes are there, you should go to the site to see. I haven’t watched any but the first, not having had time.
    “Leon’s truck” does sound as though it could have been a part of the series, but I don’t know.
    My friends and I in my student ward in Ann Arbor tried to find some old film strips for a Tom Trails party, in the mid 80s, but couldn’t come up with them. I’m so jealous of the person with the website.

  11. -Domokun- August 2, 2006 at 9:43 am

    “Leon’s Truck” was a church filmstrip about a Navaho named Leon who got a new truck, and then abused it. It was supposed to be a WoW analogy. I just can’t remember if it was part of the Tom Trails series or not.

  12. paula August 2, 2006 at 9:57 am

    I vaguely remember something like that, but dont’ know if was Tom Trails or not. You could ask the folks at the Tom Trails site.

  13. CottonwoodCottage August 21, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    When we finally remembered the name of this filmstrip series, we just about died laughing! A group of us at work took forever and a day to come up with his name. Glad to see someone other than us is still having a good time with the old seminary videos. Yahtahay to one and all….

  14. Trudy February 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    We laughed and laughed! You’re awesome! My husband remembered “Tom Trails” tonight out of the blue and we found this site. It brought back fond memories for him (since I’m too young) :)

  15. Carl February 22, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    My buddies and I became Tom Trails fans back in the early 80s in seminary, just as Nate (the creator of the site) did. We were so into it that we made a parody sequel using old VHS cameras. We finished it in 1987 and it spread like wildfire among LDS youth in southern California. Three years ago I made a 20th Anniversary Special Edition of our film, Tom Trails: Life After Lilly, on DVD. It was great to see how all of the kids of the now grown-up cast members instantly loved it, even though they’d never seen an original Tom Trails filmstrip (except for the edited one that appears at the beginning of the DVD). Does that qualify as ‘timeless’? For anyone who’s interested in getting a copy, just email me at Long live Tom!

  16. Paula February 22, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I’m so jealous. My friend and I tried to scrounge up copies of the filmstrips in the mid-80s to have a Tom Trails party for our married student ward, but we couldn’t find any. So when I heard about this site, I knew I’d found some kindred souls, even if I’ve never met them.

  17. Jacque March 6, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Sadly, I missed the Tom Trails years. They retired them the year I started seminary and began using the “Like Unto Us” series. I am looking for anyone who remembers a movie or filmstrip called, “What About Thad (or Tad)?” It’s been so long I don’t remember the name exactly.

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