Eagles abound in the Porter family.
Chuck Porter was born and raised in Spokane, and when he and his wife, Phyllis, were ready to start a family, they moved to the Spokane Valley and the kids all attended West Valley schools. Son Scott stayed close to the nest and his son, Erik, is a junior at West Valley High School.
But the eagle runs even deeper than that in this family.
During a ceremony on June 2, Chuck Porter pinned an Eagle Scout badge on his grandson, marking three generations of Eagle Scouts in the family.
“That was very, very exciting,” Chuck Porter said. “I was very proud. It was a heartwarming moment. I raised a couple good ones there, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t get emotional,” Erik said. “But this was special.”
“There is a reason why, when we planned this Court of Honor, that I was not scheduled to say a single word,” his father admitted.
Scouting, and the principles behind it, run deep in the Porter family.
When Chuck Porter was a Scout, his father – Erik’s great-grandfather – was the scoutmaster. Chuck helped lead the troop while his son was growing up and Scott does the same for his son.
It’s not just a guy thing, either.
“My sisters were all in Girl Scouts, my daughters went all the way through Girl Scouts and my wife was a troop leader,” Scott Porter said. “It’s an important part of our family.
“I still remember going on a 50-mile hike with my dad, and two summers ago I did the same thing with my son. Girl Scouts don’t do as much camping out, but my daughter has come along on campouts with the boys because she knew all of them and had grown up with them.”
While there is a strong father-son ethic in the family approach to scouting, Scott is quick to dispel any thoughts of nepotism in achieving the Boy Scouts’ highest rank.
“My dad made sure I earned every badge and met every requirement before I turned anything in to the scoutmaster,” he explained. “And if you look at Erik’s paperwork, you won’t see my name anywhere on it. In our troop, we don’t supervise our own sons. In fact, I think we may be a little harder on each other’s sons just to make sure there is absolutely no favoritism being shown. They have to earn everything every step of the way.”
Erik joined the Cub Scouts in the first grade, and there was no doubt in his mind that he would eventually follow in the family footsteps.
The tenets of Scouting are an important part of the Porter family, including a deep sense of citizenship in their community, the nation and the world as well as an appreciation for their responsibilities to the environment. The family enjoys the outdoors, and they all have embraced the sense of self-reliance taught by Scouting.
For Erik, there was never a doubt that he would eventually join his father and grandfather as an Eagle Scout.
“I knew I was going to do this,” he said. “I officially started actually working on my Eagle Scout badge in January of last year.”
The path to becoming an Eagle Scout has changed over the years – even though Scott and Erik belong to the same troop: Troop 430.
Chuck Porter earned his Eagle Scout badge in April 1954.
“I didn’t have to do a big (leadership) project the way my son and grandson had to do,” he said. “That didn’t start until the year after I got mine. I still had a lot of work to do, but not the project.”
His son, Scott, earned his in April 1979. In addition to earning the requisite merit badges required by the Eagle rank, his project was to plant trees on Mica Peak.
For Erik, the requirements have evolved, including a mandatory cooking merit badge.
“My (leadership) project was to make 50 boxes for our troops deployed in the Middle East,” he said. “My grandparents donated some money, $1,000 to help get me started and they got me in touch with the Elks Lodge that they belong to and they helped me a great deal.”
Each box contained books, playing cards, headphones, sunscreen and toiletries that will come in handy during deployment. The troop made key chains from lengths of parachute cord and each box contained a handwritten note from a Scout saying: “Thank you for your service.”
A connection with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post took the project a step further than expected by connecting Erik with an Air Force Refueling Wing from Fairchild Air Force Base that was about to be deployed to Afghanistan so that he could personally deliver his boxes.
“That was really special,” he said. “To be able to put a face to all those boxes and to say thank you in person – that meant a lot.”
Now that he’s officially an Eagle Scout, Erik is turning his attention to a full summer of work.
A football player, he’s currently attending spring football sessions with his teammates. Later in the summer are football camps and band camps that run concurrently.
“Those are going to be hectic,” he allowed. “I will have football in the morning, then jump in the car and drive to Post Falls for band camp. Those will be long days.”
In the meantime, he said, he would like to find a part-time job.
“That made a tough one,” he said. “So far, my timing seems to be just a little bit off. I keep trying to apply for jobs that have just been filled.”
But for an Eagle Scout, the tough goals are the ones that mean the most.