Three generations of Eagles
When Isaac Friday takes the Eagle Scout Oath on Friday, May 24, he’ll officially become the third generation of his family to hold the highest Boy Scouts of America honor.
His grandfather, Eagle Scout Walt Friday, plans to administer the oath. But he’s concerned about whether he’ll be up to it, since he’s recovering from an operation.
No worries. If grandpa can’t make it, Isaac’s dad, Eagle Scout Ken Friday, is ready to take over.
The three Eagle Scouts share more than just a title and a family name. All three have an abiding love for scouting and believe that it’s an important and beneficial program.
“It makes strong, patriotic young men,” said the elder Friday, who is retired. “That’s a good thing.”
Ken, a Yamhill County planner, said scouting teaches skills and discipline that those young men will use all their lives. He learned public speaking, goal setting and organizational skills that help him in his job every day.
And Isaac, a high school senior, said he already realizes the benefits of scouting. The program has taught him personal management and planning skills, for instance.
“I’ve learned confidence, leadership, independence,” he said.
Scouting came into the Friday family when Walt was a boy living in a tiny town near the California-Oregon border.
He had a Boy Scout manual and a troop leader, his dad. All that was missing was a troop. It seems there weren’t enough boys around to form one.
When his family moved to Prospect, near Medford, Walt was able to join Troop 19. Soon he was involved in all sorts of activities, including walking the 11 miles from Union Creek back to Prospect, or the miles between town and the Seven Lakes Basin wilderness area.
He went to Scout camp at Lake of the Woods. After a week of camp, he stayed over to work in the kitchen. Later, he patrolled the waterfront, watching for younger boys who needed assistance in the water.
Walt said he recalls vividly the moment he decided to go for the Eagle rank.
“I was sitting at a table at scout camp with one of the staff members, who already was an Eagle,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do that.”
He knuckled down and earned the 21 merit badges required for the honor. Among his badges were pioneering, a specialty of his troop; aviation, geology, electricity, fingerprinting, citizenship in community and nation, basketry, woodworking and sculpture.
Back then, no Eagle project was required.
Walt took the Eagle oath in 1955. Two years later, he earned the Silver Award, equivalent of an Eagle for those over 18.
In college, he became a Scoutmaster himself. He later served as a Scoutmaster in Salem, where he and his wife raised their children.
Both of his sons were Boy Scouts. “I guess that came by osmosis,” Walt said, “but, of course, I encouraged them and was proud of them.”
Ken was 7 when he asked if he could join scouting.
He loved it from the start. As proof, he recalled wearing his blue Cub Scout uniform for school pictures.
Salem Troop 108 met at the house of one of the troop members. Ken and the other boys did arts and crafts, built pinewood derby cars, went hiking and camping. As they got older, the activities became more strenuous, such as 50-mile hikes.
He looked up to his Scoutmaster, Bruce Marsh. “He was a big influence. Mr. Marsh and the other Scouts were probably second only to my parents in terms of being a life influence,” he said.
Marsh died a few weeks ago, causing Ken to recall many of the times they spent together more than 30 years ago. Back then, he said, he was simply having fun.
“Kids don’t realize all the skills they’re learning,” he said. “I learned stuff then that I still use all the time.”
To become an Eagle Scout, Ken, like his dad, earned 21 merit badges. By the time he was on the Eagle track, the early 1980s, a service project also was required.
Ken led a group of teens who cleared land to enhance part of Minto Brown Island Park. In addition to doing the physical work, he said, he had to get the required permission, raise money, gather the tools and people needed, and make sure everything was done properly — skills he would use again and again as an adult.
Currently leader of his son’s troop, 266, Ken recently earned the Wood Badge, an advanced training award for Scout leaders.
Like his dad and grandpa, Isaac earned 21 merit badges to become an Eagle Scout. Some were required, such as first aid and citizenship; others were his choices, such as aviation, rifle shooting, archery and canoing.
One of his favorites was climbing. “I did it at Camp Baldwin, which has natural rocks for climbing,” he said, recalling how he scaled the 40 to 50 foot sheer wall. “I want to go climbing again.”
Like his dad, he also competed a service project. He built four benches for the Nazarene Church on the Hill’s youth group site, the former Chemeketa campus.
As a member of the youth group, he knew the benches would come in handy. And he had fun building them, even though he had to enlist his dad’s help. “Scouting rules, if you’re under 18, you’re not allowed to use power tools, so dad did the cutting and drilling,” said Isaac, who was still 17 when he competed the project.
Isaac has been a Scout since he was 7. “When I turned 18, I realized I’d spent more of my life in Scouting than not in Scouting,” he said.
Over the years, he said, he’s met many people and made lasting friendships because of the program.
“All my best friends are in Scouting,” he said.
They’ve shared good times and learned from one another. For instance, he said, his buddy Joe Stearns taught him the right way to roll up a sleeping bag to maximize space in his pack.
Like his dad, Isaac asked if he could join the Boy Scouts.
“I found Dad’s old belt full of Cub Scout awards,” he said. “I thought that was cool. I’d like some awards.”
He joined Scout Troop 266 as a Cub, then became a Boy Scout when he turned 11.
He said he’s enjoyed all the activities, from the arts and crafts in Cub Scouts to the rocket launches, pinewood derbies and 50 mile hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail. The latter, he said, are “so much fun and so terrible” at the same time.
Another fun, yet initially intimidating activity, has been spending the night in a snow cave on Mount Hood. His dad spearheads the activity each year, he said.
Scouts go up to the mountain, dig out a cave, and crawl into sleeping bags covered with extra blankets. The experience makes scouts feel more confident of their abilities and more prepared to deal with the elements, father and son said.
The teen also participated in the weekly meetings and monthly campouts with his troop. He went to Scout camp each year, then became a member of the camp staff. His sister, Rebecca, also is on the staff.
Issac’s achievements will be recognized at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at 7 p.m. Friday, May 24, at the Methodist Church, where his troop meets. Friends such as Doug Stearns will help with the ceremony.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Ken said of his son. “The level of responsibility I’ve seen him step up to, especially in the last three years...”
In addition to becoming an Eagle Scout, Isaac will graduate in June. He likely will receive his helicopter pilot’s license the same month.
Inspired by the book “Chickenhawk,” written by a Vietnam War helicopter pilot, Isaac has been taking ground school and flying lessons. He’s only a few solo and night flights away from completion.
After high school, he plans to take courses at Chemeketa Community College, then transfer to Oregon State University. He wants to play rugby at OSU, and join ROTC, in addition to studying for a degree in forestry.
After college, he will join the Army to pursue further training as a helicopter pilot.
Isaac also will be keeping an eye on his younger brother, Scott, a 12-year-old Boy Scout.
“I hope he’ll be an Eagle Scout, too,” he said. “If I had to do it ... he’d better!”
Starla Pointer, who is convinced everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996. She’s always looking for suggestions. Contact her at 503-687-1263 or email@example.com.