By SHERIDAN CYR
Southington Boy Scout Evan Belcourt was able to see the fruits of his labor on Earth Day, when community members joined together for a clean-up activity at Novick’s Orchard. As workers gathered to start their day, each one of them studied the map on the kiosk at the entrance before setting off confidently into the open space parcel.
The map was part of an Eagle Scout project completed by Belcourt over the last year and a half.
The scout from Troop 45 kick-started cleaning up and re-blazing the trails at the orchards in 2016, and his fresh, new trail map at the entrance helped set workers on the right path. Before his project, an outdated, confusing, old map was almost as much trouble to read as the trails.
“I saw in the paper that the Parks Department was looking for Eagle Scout candidates to do their projects here,” Belcourt said. “It sounded interesting, and I wanted to help out.”
Belcourt was responsible for his own fundraising for materials to be used during the project, and total costs came to approximately $120 when all was said and done. He was able to keep costs relatively low with help from around the community, including: paint donated by another Boy Scout, Jonah Zgombick; a power tool rental donation from Southington’s Home Depot; and discounted map printing from Southington’s Staples.
“People seemed to get lost on the trails before,” explained the Scout’s mother, Carrie Belcourt. “The route was confusing, and so was the map. It seemed like it needed some help.”
There are three different routes at Novick’s Orchards. The blue trail is 1.07 miles in length and looks like a lasso. A red trail extends off of the blue trail, a 0.33 mile walk. A green trail also extends off of the blue trail, an additional 0.36 mile distance.
To help direct trail-users through the different routes, Belcourt not only painted color-coordinated markings on the trees, but also implemented wooden posts at each fork in the trail. Belcourt’s Eagle’s-eye map indicates where each post is with an “X.”
An Eagle Scout ranking is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouts program and typically takes years to fulfill. Though Belcourt’s project at the orchard is complete, there is still work to be done before he can be a certified Eagle Scout.
An Eagle Scout project requires an application, signatures from the applicant, unit leader, and unit committee chair, six references, achievement of 21 merit badges, and approval from the Board of Review.
The service project must benefit a community organization, be it the town, a school, a religious institution, or any other organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.
“It was nice to see people using the trail at the Earth Day hike,” Belcourt said. “A lot of people thanked me for the work.”
Evan and his mother extended a special thank-you to the community members who came together to help with the project, including Tom Galvin, a fellow Boy Scout parent who came to Evan’s aid.
“Being a Boy Scout has given me a lot of skills to help me in life,” Belcourt said, specifically pointing out teamwork, first aid and community service.
Belcourt is a junior at Pathways Academy of Technology and Design. He joined Cub Scouts in first grade, and has been involved in the scouting program ever since.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.