More than half of Johnathan Walcutt’s life has included boy scouts and the desire to one day earn the rank of Eagle Scout—and the William Monroe High School senior officially celebrated the accomplishment on Sunday.
Walcutt, who started in first grade in cub scouts, recalled telling his mom after his first meeting that he one day wanted to achieve the highest rank possible in boy scouts.
“I’ve been focused on getting Eagle Scout since I joined cub scouts. It’s really been a goal that I’ve had for myself personally for pretty much all my life. It’s possibly one of my biggest milestones,” he said.
To earn the honor the 17-year-old cleared and mapped trails at Pine Knot, the country retreat of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, in southern Albemarle County. In addition, Walcutt built a kiosk with a copper roof to hold the maps on the site. The idea for the project came after a family visit to the location.
“My parents told us we were going. Right at the end, she was talking about how Theodore Roosevelt was the first citizen scoutmaster and that’s how we got on the conversation,” Walcutt said. “It came up that I was looking for a project and she said, ‘Look no further than here because we’ve got plenty of things you could do.’”
From there, Walcutt and a group of fellow boy scouts spent a weekend clearing the trails at Pine Knot. After that, Walcutt and his grandfather took a GPS system to walk and mark the trails to form the map. Finally, he began to construct the nearly 12-foot kiosk with a copper roof estimated around $2,500.
Through fundraising efforts primarily on GoFundMe, Walcutt raised between $2,500 to $3,000. He then went to W.A. Lynch for the roofing, which covered the cost of both the copper roof and labor. Blue Ridge Building Supplies also donated supplies to the effort.
“I was stoked for that,” he said. “The biggest obstacle was the logistical factors that went into it. It had a bunch of different parts that all needed to be done and come together at one point. With making the map, the kiosk and having to have the trails done before that, all that having to come together in a fluid motion in order to get it done in a good manner was probably the hardest part.”
Paula Beazley, chair of the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation, said they are thrilled by Walcutt’s project.
“He did an amazing job. He was always there when he said he would be, and he did a great job getting it completed. He was very enthusiastic and just knew that this is what was meant for him to do,” Beazley said. “The trails are very well marked. He has different colors for the different trails. I think it’s fabulous because people who want to walk the trails are able to do it. It does facilitate anyone who wants to be walking the trails are able to do it on their own. As opposed to just walking in the woods, it adds the ability to know what you’re looking at.”
Because of the donated supplies, the excess money fundraised was donated back to the Pine Knot Foundation. The foundation was presented with a check for $2,623.36 at Walcutt’s Eagle Scout ceremony on Sunday.
“A five-minute conversation goes a long way. If I didn’t do that then I wouldn’t have had the roof donated, the high-priced items donated or the poly carbon glass reduced in price,” he said.
John Ensor, scoutmaster of Troop 174, said the achievement is a big honor for both Walcutt and the whole troop.
“It was a pretty intense project for Eagle between clearing all those trails, marking them, building a map for them, then building this huge kiosk with a copper roof. It really turned out to be a great project,” Ensor said. “As an Eagle Scout myself, it’s great to see good kids achieve that rank. We feel great success when we see one of the young men actually make the Eagle Scout rank.”
Although he will age out of boy scouts this November, Walcutt said he intends to remain part of the troop as a junior scoutmaster.
“I can’t fully drop it. The past 10 years have been Thursday night scout nights, so I always want to have that Thursday night time to go to scouts,” he said.
As for the accomplishment, Walcutt said he’s feeling relieved after reaching the decade-long aspiration.
“It feels really good. I hope that people go and they walk the trails more. It puts it more out there. Now they have another thing in which people are able to come and say, ‘Hey, that’d be pretty cool’ and get it more known. It’s more publicity for the place,” Walcutt said. “To me, that would be the biggest win— knowing that there’s now more people know that it exists so that it doesn’t become a lost part of our history.”