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Derby day activity ideas

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I am looking for activity ideas for the boys to do during the derbies when their Den is not up to compete.


There is space--we do these in a gym--but because it will probably be in the same room the activity should be reasonably controlled and not "free for all" loud: i.e., a game of tag would not be a great idea. I'm thinking theme-related and for all three derbies--space, pinewood, raingutter.


Any ideas are appreciated.


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We don't let our boys do other activities. They all have to watch and cheer on the other dens. We haven't had a problem as of yet since the boys have tended to like watching the races. We have considered part of sportsmanship. But I think any games that would be games you could stop as soon as they are called up would be fine.


What about making something like derby car holders or some craft that would be race related? Maybe a bingo game? Instead of bingo is could be "derby". That would keep the boys quiet and not running around as much. I like the marbles idea too.

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We hold our PWD at a local school's cafeteria/ multi purpose room. We also hold Christmas parties and sometimes, B&G there. Depends on the number of scouts we have each year and number of parents present. We use our Co most of the time, but with a bigger crowd.....we use the cafeteria/MP room.


Yeah, sounds weird, but the cafetaeria is seperated by the MP room by a huge sectional folding wall.


Anyways, to show appreciation to the school for letting us use their space, we are building and installing 9 benches. 1 for each den.


After the boys show up, register and turn over the PWD cars, we are going to pick a den that isn't racing and let them do final assembly, dig a hole and help set the benches in place, take a photo for the local paper, and then go back in.


We will do this one den at a time as the dens are not racing. That still leaves 7 dens to cheer on the den who happens to be racing at the time.


So, this will be3 our first time doing this, so I'll let you know how it turns out. But we are thingking that it wil help somewhat with the restless "when do we race" syndrome.


The bonus is that the school sees we appreciate their part, the cubs learn to say thanks other than just saying thanks, as we get a little bit of publicity and PR y sending pics to the local papers.



And the Cubs will think it's really cool to have their pic sin the paper! :)

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We've had these sideshow activities:

-- DMV: get a photo taken for drivers licenses.

-- Drive In Movie: on the other side of the gym, we set up a screen and had car themed movies.

-- Outside Games: we had Boy Scouts lead some outside games in the courtyard just outside the derby, recognizing that Cubs will want to run around.

-- Design Judging.

-- Concessions Cafe: A Scout Is Hungry (plus we use proceeds to make the Derby "free" for all who enter).


In our District, we're the only Pack with a Track, so after our first year, we did a Pack Derby in the morning, with an "all are welcome to compete" District Derby in the afternoon.


Our track is a SuperTimer system, so for competitive racing it operates on the "lowest overall time" format, with each racer competing 4 times. The first "cycle" of heats is based on how they were entered into the computer (so often kids in the same Pack and Den race against each other) but then the computer shuffles everyone so that the final three cycles of heats are "seeded" (slowest cars in the early heats, fastest cars in the later heats), and the computer algorithm puts each car in each lane one time to avoid any advantage/disadvantage of faster/slower lanes.

-- This means that "which car came in first" in a given heat is totally computer timed, no need to argue with a referee!

-- But it does mean that in a larger derby, after the first heat, you're not necessarily racing against your buddies.


Last year, to avoid what some of us thought to be the unfortunate exodus of our Pack when the rest of the District arrived, we ran our Pack Derby within the District Derby, so that the District Derby was our Pack Derby and also every other Pack's Derby.

-- we did awards for each Pack Winner and overall District winners.

-- we had 150 plus race (took about 2.5 hours overall).


This year, our Pack bought a second track, so this year's derby will have individual "Pack Derbies" on Friday night and Saturday morning on the twin "timed" tracks, followed by another District Derby that welcomes all.

-- But this year, kids who don't want to be in the timed District Derby can go to the "other track" and have "free for all fun racing" where they line up with their buddies or new friends and race their cars until the wheels fall off.

-- Yes, we will have track security to keep it in line!


Also, using a third track we located, when racers are done with their Pack Derby, they can go to that and have the same "free for all fun racing" until the wheels fall off, and they can go to the repair shop if they want to get into the District Derby.


We will continue the Cafe, Design Judging (probably with a "swami-like" fortune teller-style booth, DMV, Drive In Movie, and Outside Games), plus we're recruiting more Troops, since this can be service and promotion for them.

-- Ideally we'll have some Philmont guys from our 2010 trek walking around with backpacks to show pictures and tell the story to Cubs and Parents.

-- Plus we're hoping to have some troops pitch Patrol Campsites out on the courtyard, and get Cubbies/Parents out to see what they do.


Our experience is that there are always enough kids cheering on others, but that we'd rather be sure the Cubs had some other fun too for when that gets boring.

-- And I do want to be sure that the Cub familes see "what comes next".


My $0.02.


Bert Bender

Pack and District Trainer

Derby Commissioner

South Fulton District, Atlanta Area Council

Could be epic fun. Could be epic fail!

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We would get a whole bunch of dollar store stuff and a few donations and give out tickets for the raffle. Sometimes we would also sell some tickets for a quarter and raffle off a BB gun. (to the parents) Council people were usualy in attendance and never said anything, probably because it was internal.


We had a snack shop set up, lot's of big screen video. THe former cubmaster also built a car with a wireless spy cam so we races the car with the in-car camera.



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Love the in-car camera idea. I've got to see if we can get a tech-head to do that!


We've also got on our wish list two camera options: one with live "race coverage" that we can shoot on the big screen, and the other would be a "sideline" reporter who could do interviews with the racers and put them up on another big screen.

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We don't have a lot of extra activities going on during Pinewood Derby. We have a snack area, and a play area for little siblings. That is about it.


We do not race by dens. Everyone races together. We have a four lane track, and we usually average 8 races per Scout. The boys have to be there, listening, for when their car number is called, so they can "drive" from the Parking Lot to the Starting Gate. They then get to watch from the finish line, and then "drive" their car back to the Parking Lot.


We also do not use computerized timers. We use Asst Scoutmasters, and Den Chiefs as Finish Line Judges, so the racers get to interact with the Judges too.


The boys stay busy racing, cheering on their buddies, and eating!

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As a side note in a slightly related matter ( if you push it)


A few parents have both Cub Scouts and Boy Scout.


Usually we use two Boy Scouts as transporters for the cars that just raced. We have two padded carriers that hold two cars each. The Boy Scouts sit at the end of the track and put the cars in the carriers and carry them back to the staging table .


We use the Boy Scouts for two reasons:

1) We don't want ever scout running to the finish line and bumping the track or dropping cars after they run into each other ( yes,it has happened)

2) The scouts really look up to the Boy Scouts.


It's a no lose situation.



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1) We don't want ever scout running to the finish line and bumping the track or dropping cars after they run into each other ( yes,it has happened)


We were actually thinking of going the opposite direction with this. Typically we'd have an adult volunteer transport the cars from the finish, to the garage, to the start. I'd like to get the boys more involved rather than just watching. So they'd bring them to the starter, then claim them from the finish and take them back to the garage.


The downside is they drop or damage their car (or someone else's), but it's a risk that seems outweighed by the reward of more involvement.


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"The downside is they drop or damage their car (or someone else's), but it's a risk that seems outweighed by the reward of more involvement."


That's the exact reason why we did it.

At first, we'd say: "That's just the risk you take and you'll larn to be more carefull next time."


But we saw alot of scouts who were being reallt carefull only to be bumped into by another scout that was not paying attention or just hyper over the upcoming event....so even carefull scouts cars were being damaged sometimes.


We used to let the scouts bring their car to the garage, and then when we called them out, let them carry them to the gate operator. Then they collected the cars at the finish line and took them back to the garage.


But the thing was, in all the hype and excitement, scouts would walk over the track and get sand on it, walk ON the track, bump the track 'etc..


Soon one parent knows without a doubt, that the only reason his son didn't win top grans champion was because the track was bumoped or 1 single grain of sand simultaneously locked up all 4 wheels.


Then you have a scout who wimns all the heats in his division, is running 1st in the finals and then drops his car and ruins it. Up to that point,it was obvious he was gonna get grand champion, but then he is shot down to 3rd or just honerable mention.


The way we do it now, scout brings it to the check in. we run it through specs, then scout puts in carrier. It goes to the garage/ staging table, and is quarantined until after the race, or until it's out of the race.


So far, more scouts seem to be happy and there haven't been any accusations of favortism or mishandling, or intentional "accidents" of cars.



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The flipside to that, Scoutfish, is that I think it's easier for parents to "blame" adults if something goes wrong. I saw this happen, not in a pinewood derby but in a GS powderpuff derby I helped run. Literally had someone shout from the bleachers that we weren't doing something right. In hindsight I should have told him to come down and help out himself, but you're just not prepared for that response sometimes.


With the kids being more involved, it's not as "formal." If someone thinks a scout does something intentionally...I mean, this is the pinewood derby not the Super Bowl.


Regarding walking on/over the track, we solve that problem with pennant ropes...basically "police tape" along the sides of the track, and looks festive too.


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As I posted, we have the scouts involved with transporting their own cars.


The track is roped off so it is clear where the "no go" areas are. We have adults who walk the area of the track to keep crazed fans at bay. There is plenty of room around the track for the racers to walk from the Parking Lot to the Start, to the Finish, and back, without running into onlookers.


We sometimes have to caution the racers. They tend to get excited at times, but as a rule are still pretty good. Parents are there and it is often their voices that can be heard first reining in their Scout.


Do we have accidents? Sure, sometimes. They are kids, it happens. We fix it, and move on. Very seldom do we have any large, or blown up, problem. The kids love it, and it keeps them on their toes and actually involved in the race.


However, I know that with extremely large Packs things might work better in a more adult controlled setting.

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Yeah, we used "caution" tape around the track and secured it to the first handy thing we could find: metal folding chairs. The down side was people sitting in the chair, or the chairs being to light to keep the caution line taut.


This year, I am going to a tire shop, getting a bunch of old used tires that have holes or busted. Gonna clean them up and put the line on them. Thinking about borrowing some safety cones/ barrels from a local contractor for extra bling.

One thing we did explain to the adults last year:


The program we use randomly races all cars in each group( we group by rank - even though I accidentally said den earlier) and runs each car in each lane during the race.


If your car runs bad in every lane, and the rest of the cars run good..then it's your car. If every car runs bad in a lane, we check the lane and redo the heats if necessary. If a car runs great in a particular lane, then yours runs bad, then the next car rubs god in that lane..your car is just out of whack!


And we use electronic timers because we have finished that have ben within .003 of each other and the 2nd car actually looked like it won due to illusion of color, shape,etc...


We also announceat the very beginning that the PWD is about crafts, building, parent/son doing something together,and having a great time fellowshipping.


Winning is just something that happens at the end and is not the true goal!

Then we tell the adults that - even though they helped with the cars, it's about the scout's fun and not mom or dad's ego.

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Yeah, we use the Boy Scout Troop as our "Pit Row" for check in and transport of cars to the starting gate, and back. We just don't want the inevitable "bobble and drop" and the agony that will come from that!


Before we got the computerized timers, in year 1 with 20 racers we had adult judgers, which then meant that we had lots of arguments, including (and it can only be worse today), folks bringing their video cameras to prove that the judges messed it up!


Second year we had Boy Scouts as the judges.


Nobody -- no. bo. dy. -- argued with the Boy Scouts!!!


They don't argue with the computer either (but some don't understand it).

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