The Eagle Scout triplets of Madrona

The Eagle Scout is an iconic American archetype, and having one in the family is rare. Having three is seemingly improbable, until you meet Charley and Sheila Dickey's sons Will, Sloan and Barrett, of Madrona.

The 18-year-olds may be the first fraternal triplets in the Boy Scouts of America's 98-year history to achieve the celebrated Eagle Scout rank, the highest attainable in the organization that boasts more than 5 million members ranging in age from 7 to 21.

Will and Barrett noted that their father and mother encouraged the boys throughout their involvement with the Scouts. This was especially true in the beginning, all of the boys asserted, when a close friend of their father's pushed Charley into starting a Cub Scout Den to feed into the Madrona Boy Scout troop. Involvement in the Scouts was down, and the family friend saw an opportunity to quickly boost membership in the long-established local group.

"At the very beginning, our troop was kind of suffering," explained Sloan, who said that their troop number corresponds with its age: the 15th Boy Scout troop founded in America.

Starting out a bit late, the brothers were involved with Cub Scouts for two years rather than the three that, Charley noted, is more typical of beginning scouts. Coupled with supportive parents and the neighborhood's Boy Scout tradition, the brothers thrived. In the last few years the boys have seen their influence, and the influence of other local high-ranking Scouts, recharge Troop 15.

"We had a strong group of friends that were above us that accepted us," Will said. "They didn't care that we were younger than them, and they led us through to Eagle Scout."

The rank was awarded to the brothers in May, just before they turned 18, the age when a Boy Scout needs to achieve his Eagle rank. The group meetings, camping trips, Merit Badge sessions and urban and wild land projects leading up to this point served as both character-building and bonding experiences for the brothers, as well as for the family and friends who were involved with their activities.

Charlie emphasized that seeing his boys travel from the genesis to the apex of the Boy Scouts took a high degree of cooperation by both themselves and the other parents involved in Troop 15.

"It takes a family commitment to put this all together," Sheila added.

But family can only go so far, the boys all noted. Earning the Boy Scout's highest honor is an exercise in self-perseverance and self-confidence.

"There was a lot of brother pressure," Will noted. "We didn't want to have only one brother that would make it."

This intrinsic all-for-one fraternal peer pressure took a higher road when the boys and their father attended a gathering at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Boy Scouts have been using the ranch since 1938, and the surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountain range serves as the organization's National High Adventure Base.

It was here that the Dickey boys went on a 10 day backpacking trek partially supported by pack animals. All of the brothers said it was the highlight of their time in the scouts where their sense of camaraderie and their interpersonal, team building and wilderness skills were honed to a heretofore unexpected fine point.

"That was kind of a rite of passage, and I think that they felt they could look ahead and not look back," said their father, who went on the trip as well.

The wilderness experiences coupled with the discipline of applying for Eagle Scout have provided the brothers with a life lesson for navigating their way through society's civilian and government bureaucracies. To receive the top rank, a Scout needs to have earned a minimum of 21 Merit Badges, with seven of them being required.

"I'm looking forward to the rewards," Barrett said when thinking about the years of hard work he and his brothers put into the Scouts. The rank is legendary in aiding college and job search efforts.

Will said the process of earning and documenting his Merit Badges reminded him of school, which will assuredly serve he and his brothers well when they leave home for college at the end of their upcoming senior years in high school. Sloan attends a boarding school in Vancouver, British Columbia. Will goes to Lakeside School and Barrett is enrolled in Seattle Academy.

"It's like a lot of things that people stick with through their grade-school and middle school ages," Sloan said. "You get a lot of respect for, one, sticking through it, and, two, learning all the lessons that you have to do it."

Sheila sees her sons' confidence in leadership roles and their ability to work positively with groups as the most valuable tools they developed in thier time in Scouts.

Charley agreed, adding that the iconic status of an Eagle Scout promises to be a life-long benefit.

"It's a cachet of character to have this seal of approval," Charley said. "There is a positive association there.That element of character is attested to by the fact that they made Eagle Scout."

Erik Hansen may be reached via

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