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Pinewood Derby as a Cub Scout Activity --- Or is it an Adult Activity?

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After a sad derby we revamped...

 

We deemphasized the winning and used a pool racing concept (old posts on this website I think). We called it the "everyone has fun" bracket system. But the main thing that was successful is to teach the parents prior before the car kit was handed out how to be...

 

At a pack meeting Webelos den leader gets up and tells the story of the "best pinewood derby car he ever saw" with much drama. (It was a car built by a Web boy long gone from the pack who did every bit himself including the weights -- quarters duct taped to the bottom of the car.)

 

CM latter on gets up does a "scout hand pledge". Every cub put up your hands in the air in front of you. "I pledge that these are the hands that will do the work on my car".

 

Den leaders sent out notes in their calendar updates that talked about the progression over the years as scouts are able to more and more on their cars themselves without adult hands. "This is your time with your son to do a project together. Something's off if Parent is working on the car in the garage when scout son is inside asleep".

 

Pack rules were printed and rubber banded to the derby kit before they were handed out.

 

The design awards became important as scouts dot voted for the funniest, most creative, meanest car....

 

Help was available to less handy parents.

 

Day of the derby the CM and ACM acted out a funny skit for the scouts on how not to be at the race. (Sportsmanship).

 

We switched to Saturday morning so we could race as many races as we wanted.

 

Mostly we had trouble with dads who were working many hours and mistook winning for connecting with their sons.

 

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One addition to the great suggestions here:

 

Our PWD has 3 events (thanks to a guy we hire to help out):

 

The speed race (3 runs, you get your fastest time, and each time on a different track).

A shuffleboard. You get points for where you land - middle is perfect

A ski jump (aka the wheel breaker). You get points for distance.

 

The other two events help even out the competition, but we keep the speed portion as well.

 

Speed winner by den and pack

Overall winner by den and pack

 

Design chosen by a group of people for best Scout design, with the understanding that they are to look for cars that are obviously Scout created and driven.

 

Works pretty well. We have a build day where the Pack is running an upside-down below sander in a vise, a few Dremels, and a saw. That way our non-tool users can work with their sons.

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One addition. Though both of my sons did just fine (and brought home some trophies), I don't love the derby. It is the only Cub Scout activity that replaces "Do Your Best" with "May the Best Scout Win."

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Horizon, ours was structured similarly for awards. But we had the speed race and then everyone engaged in open races, even the sisters and boy scouts, anyone with some old PWD car was welcome. The open races were the most fun. Everyone got full color certificates as well. Some of the boys went simply for design, they said they didn't care about the actual races. One of them is an architect today and a couple of others are engineers.

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I hate Dadwood Derby with a passion. As CM I hate that I can't bocott the event.

 

Suggestion from the cheap seats under the heading "If you can't beat 'em, use 'em."

 

For your dadwood derby, have a staggered finish line. The track gets an inch shorter for every committee meeting attended that year. Ten inches shorter for every service star. :cool:

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<

>>

 

 

Pinewood Derbies tend to get more complex and "win" centric over the years.

 

Downshifting these events so they are simpler and more fun for boys can be difficult, meeting resistance from those committed to a high stakes competetive event.

 

So what are the secrets to downshifting from complex to simpler events?

 

 

 

 

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I have not experience too much of the parents taking over and overly focused on winning. But I think the Pinewood derby is over emphasised. The tracks are expensive for only being used 1 or 2x per year.

 

I actually think it is pretty hard for most Tigers, Wolves and some bears to cut the wood. Getting the wheels somewhat alligned is not the easiest of tasks. These scouts are pretty much left to painting it.When you get into deburing axels and polishing them I think that just about everyone uses a power drill. Which excluded the scouts. Webelos and some bears do have the stregth to use a hand saw, they are also interested in what makes a car go faster. I know people will say it allows the adult and the scout to build it together. But if the adult needs to do a good percentage of it because of safety I don't think it is occomplishing the goal.

 

I like the raingutter race a lot more. The balsa wood can be shaped with sand paper. I tiger can build it on their own with guidance from the adult.

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I have not experience too much of the parents taking over and overly focused on winning. But I think the Pinewood derby is over emphasised. The tracks are expensive for only being used 1 or 2x per year.

 

 

We solved this by buying a track with multiple other packs since we only need it one day a year. It would be nice if districts had them but that is unrealistic.

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Ours was home-made out of plywood and it worked just fine. I bet it cost maybe 50$ in materials when we made it. It had two lanes and took a while to 'set up' so the lanes ran fairly. But other than that it was just as good as those expensive things sold here and there.

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I'm an associate advisor for a Venturing crew. This past year we did a Pinewood Derby as a crew. Our group of 16-20 year-olds built their own cars and we raced them using a track borrowed from a local Cub pack. The one added rule that differed from Cub Scouting was that no one but the Venturer could touch their car or contribute to the design/building... it had to be done 100% solo.

 

Now many of the Venturers in our crew were Cubs in their younger days, but they wanted to do a Pinewood Derby where (as they put it) "we actually get to build the cars ourselves." They now have an understanding of aerodynamics and such due to all the STEM ideas they've picked up in school and Scouts, so they could build cars based on what could win a race, not just what "looked cool."

 

Now it's not that they didn't have a hand in building/designing their cars as Cubs, but their "Akela" (in most cases, their dads) did do a lot of the physical work (such as using power tools, perfecting the balance of the wheels, putting the weights on just right, etc). The Cubs helped come up with the overall design, picked the colors, helped paint or apply decals, worked it over with sandpaper, and were there every step of the way... but they weren't the leader of the project (they were 7 and probably had never used a jigsaw before). It was a great learning experience to work side-by-side with their dad on building the car, but what 7-year-old could build a car on his own?

 

The Venturing Pinewood Derby was a great success, and now they're thinking of building a more advanced track (one that's longer and has some curves and little ups and downs, as opposed to the standard straight-shot downhill track) in order to take their "grown up" Pinewood Derby to the next level.

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Second year with the new aluminum track with timer and I love it. There is nothing wrong with competition, kids are going to have to learn not everyone is a winner and not everyone gets a trophy. I do not understand this culture of non competitiveness.

 

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It was a great learning experience to work side-by-side with their dad on building the car' date=' but what 7-year-old could build a car on his own?[/quote']

 

Depends on how you define "on his own". If you define doing it all without any adult supervision, then not many. If you define it as doing most of the work with their "Akela" looking over their shoulder and helping, then many can. Every kid is different and there are adults that I wouldn't trust with power tools. But with proper supervision, I don't see any reason why most cubs can't do most of the work to build a car.

 

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Sidney said, "I actually think it is pretty hard for most Tigers, Wolves and some bears to cut the wood. Getting the wheels somewhat alligned is not the easiest of tasks. These scouts are pretty much left to painting it.When you get into deburing axels and polishing them I think that just about everyone uses a power drill. Which excluded the scouts. Webelos and some bears do have the stregth to use a hand saw, they are also interested in what makes a car go faster. I know people will say it allows the adult and the scout to build it together. But if the adult needs to do a good percentage of it because of safety I don't think it is occomplishing the goal."

 

At our District PWD tigers race tigers, Wolves race wolves etc.... Therefore our pack races run within the rank levels (one den each for each rank). Top 3 of a den go to the District event (if they wish -- typically not that many were interested). Therefore a Tiger car doesn't have to be an engineering marvel... he is racing against other Tigers.

 

Also Guide to Safe Scouting restriction against power tools is within Scouts, not in the 1:1 supervision environment of family home garage. My sons mow the lawn and snow blow the driveways.

 

(BTW my son's cars were not power tooled powered at all. Hand coping saw and sandpaper were the tools. They did fine.)

PWD can be dialed down so everyone, including the boys, has fun. We have had Webelos who don't want to bridge until after PWD.

 

It is funny almost every prospective Dad wants to do pinewood derby with their sons, it is a big recruiting tool......

 

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