To attain his Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America, Joseph Katt, 16, of Callaway chose a service project that he believed would help others in a spiritual way.
Katt, a rising senior at Faith Christian Academy, said he chose to develop a wooded lot into an outdoor "Stations of the Cross" meditation area at the Phoebe Needles Center in Callaway. Stations of the Cross is a set of images of Jesus that begin with His appearance before Pontius Pilot and end with His ascension into heaven.
Through his efforts, Katt said he is providing a new experience for summer youth campers and adults participating in programs at Phoebe Needles, as well as local church groups and individuals.
He describes the setting as a "spiritually, emotionally and physically safe place to experience God."
A large portion of the costs for the project was donated by Don and Carol Osborne in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. Katt also raised money for the project through fundraisers and donations from local churches. Funds were needed for plaques and images for the stations, as well as granite on which to mount the images and three benches placed along the path.
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The most difficult part of the project was physically moving the granite, Katt said. And the paperwork was tedious.
A 10-foot cross and three directional signs were also constructed with the help of fellow scouts, men from his church, Piedmont Presbyterian, and his family, Katt said. The project took about a year and was dedicated in January 2011.
The experience was meaningful to Katt in that he got hands-on experience in running a large project that included paperwork and planning. Katt said he felt a "sense of accomplishment" and that it felt good "seeing how people were enjoying" the results of his efforts.
The Reverend John Heck, executive director of The Phoebe Needles Center, praised Katt's project.
"The Stations of the Cross is an amazing addition to the Phoebe Needles Center," he said. "It provides a much needed quiet space for reflection, meditation and prayer."
"Joseph Katt did an outstanding job of providing the leadership to turn a conceptual plan into reality," Heck added. "He organized the entire project, which included several planning meetings, ordering materials, organizing work days and seeing the project through to completion. What he has contributed to the center and to those who use it, is immeasurable."
Since the completion of the Stations of the Cross project, Katt said he continues to earn merit badges in the scouting program.
To attain the Eagle Scout rank, 12 specific merit badges must be earned. These merits are skill based and include first aid, communications and citizenship.
Katt said he most enjoyed earning his woodcarving badge, as he "hadn't done a lot of it up to that point."
This is his 11th year in scouting, Katt said, having started in first grade. He is a member of Brick Church of the Brethren Troop 129.
Although he earned his Eagle Scout award last November, Katt said he still has plenty to learn. He is one merit badge short of earning his third Eagle Palm. A "palm" represents six additional badges.
Besides scouting, Katt said he is active in youth programs with the Model General Assembly and Conference on National Affairs. He also enjoys white-water kayaking. He and his father, Pete, won the tandem-male canoe division in last year's Pigg River Ramble.