scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Pinewood Derby
Bob Riley (Cubmaster639@AOL.COM
Sat Nov 27 1999 - 09:59:21 CST
Jessica got another Pinewood Derby thread going. Cool!
I just love Pinewood Derby, almost as much as this Scouting thang.
I think there is a big difference between the cubs and the boys
because of their ages. At the Cub level I don't believe they quite
comprehend the competition thing. They put so much time and
effort into making their cars and hearing about it and talking about
that it's a big let down if they're out of the competition after only two
Two cubmasters ago in our pack made a six lane track out of four
full size sheets of 1/2" plywood. Yes, it's heavy and bulky but, very
sturdy once up. When I "volunteered" to take over (ha!) I decided to
look for other formats. Throughout high school and college I was
involved in competitive sports, both individual and team. I know the
letdown feeling after you have been eliminated. And I was older than
all these boys. I've seen those little faces after they've put off to the
side and while we grownups think they're learning a valuable
life-lesson all the boy knows is that he's out of the fun.
I threw out some questions to this list and other scouters and got
many different formats for the races. I decided on on that our track
would be put to the best use. I set up a schedule of heats in which :
1) six cars race in each heat
2) every boy races different cars each heat (there will be a few dupes
but, so what)
3) we race as many heats as there are entries
4) we only count the winners of each heat. The ones with the most
# of wins at the end of all the heats are our top three finishers.
In case of a tie - race off.
This way they are still competing, which I think is a good thing and
yet they're not ever out of the fun. Most of the fun at the cub level is
during the racing.
And we always have voting for about six different categories, which
the boys vote on themselves before the racing starts. You know
Best Derby Car, Most Patriotic, Most Colorful, Most Real Looking,
Most Creative, Fastest Looking. The boys can't vote for their own car.
They cast one vote for each category. While the racing is going on the
adults are tallying the voting results.
Nobody gets two awards! This spreads the awards around even more.
The race winners are set in stone. Then the committee selects those
cars with the most votes in each category as long as that car has not
What are you yelling? Oh, how did it turn out? Well, last year we had
36 heats (and entries). 23 different cars won at least one race. Every
car except one received at least one vote for something. And believe
me I announced all these results. This get some very interesting results.
One year the car that won Most Patriotic was a jet black sports car.
And not one of the boys noticed.
There were alot of very happy faces throughout the evening. A few tips ....
1- Once the boys place enter their cars on the weigh in station they can't
touch it. This includes dads! (Yeah, we always have a few of "those".)
2- Adults place the cars on the track as the heat is announced
3- The boys pick their cars up after the race is over and returns it to the
These rules help to keep the races moving. The first year we had many
delays waiting for the boys to come up to put their cars on the track. A
big key to the success of this event is to keep things moving.
One year one of our wood working dads made enough trophies for everyone!
He made nine larger ones (out of old couch arms and chair spindles) and
smaller ones that we put all kinds of crazy awards on.
I would highly recommend this format for Cubs. I would not do this for
Boy Scouts. I believe competition is very good for them. And they inderstand
the elimination aspect much better. Age appropriate activities, ya know?
And this format allows time for a race off for the adults. This usually keeps
them out of the boys' business! Usually.
Hope this helps someone.
Cubmaster & WDL