A warm Boy Scout welcome to Bellingham for three 12-year-olds has led to what may be the first set of triplets to earn Eagle Scout honors in Whatcom County.
Eric, Matt and Nick Sulier, now seniors at Bellingham High School, have amassed more than 80 merit badges among them. They and four others in Troop 4016 will receive their Eagle Scout honors at 7 p.m. June 18 in the Assumption School gym. Assumption Church sponsors the troop.
The other Scouts to be honored are John Dahl and Ben Bartel from Squalicum High, Mark Larson from Sehome High and Nicholas Estrada from Bellingham High.
The triplets, who are fraternal and easy to tell apart, are the sons of David and Monica Sulier. Their parents, the boys and Konrad Kocsis, their scoutmaster, talked about their path to Eagle distinction.
Question: Konrad, have any other local triplets earned Eagle Scout status?
Kocsis: Nobody is aware of it happening before here, let alone Washington state. I'm told it has happened only a handful of times nationally.
Q: Fellows, what was it like to start scouting in California and finish in Bellingham?
Matt: We moved here from Redding just before we started seventh grade. Three days after we moved here, Dad told us about the local troop and we were guests at a Court of Honor. We started as Cub Scouts when we were 6.
Nick: What I remember is seeing this sea of black neckerchiefs. Our color in Redding had been yellow. We really stood out in our uniforms that day. I was nervous about how hard it would be to adjust to a new troop.
Eric: We had persistence. We knew then we didn't want to quit Scouting.
Matt: We thought it would all turn out OK, and it has been great. We've done so many outdoor things: canoeing, rafting, hiking, snowshoeing. It's really nice to be a Scout here.
Q: Konrad, what are the odds of triplets becoming Eagle Scouts?
A: Nationally, less than 4 percent of boys who begin in Scouting earn Eagle Scout recognition. There are lots of distractions along the way.
What we're also especially proud of is having seven Eagle Scouts this year in our troop. It's an all-time record for our troop.
Q: What was your reaction to having triplets join your troop?
Kocsis: I was just amazed. It was definitely easier because they're not identical! I remember at our first meeting with them, how they got this spark in their eyes when we talked of all the outdoor adventures we have in the Northwest.
Nick: I don't think we would have all done it without Mr. Kocsis. Having him be persistent made us persistent as well.
Q: What other activities have you guys participated in?
Eric: We all play in the Bellingham High School band. Matt and I are in the bass drum line and Nick plays trombone.
Q: What have been some of your favorite merit badges?
Eric: I really liked earning the rifle shooting and fishing merit badges.
Matt: For me, it was swimming and space exploration. It's really cool to learn about how astronauts first went into space in the 1960s and 1970s.
Nick: I liked rifle as well. I really liked earning the wilderness survival merit badge.
Kocsis: Each of the triplets also was voted to perform major roles with our troop. Eric was a scribe, Matt was a troop guide with younger kids, and Nick was a skills instructor. And they also had to finish a community service project to earn Eagle.
Q: What are your plans now?
Nick: I'm going to play trombone and study criminal justice at Boise State.
Matt: I'll also attend Boise State. I'll major in engineering or physics.
Eric: I'm going to start at Whatcom Community College. I want to study cellular molecular biology.
Q: Monica and David, would you have imagined having three Eagles?
Monica: Yes, I really would have believed it!
David: They didn't have a choice. Just kidding!
Kocsis: Seriously, these three Scouts have had great parental support.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.