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karunamom3

PW Derby Car from past year

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I need opinions from those not directly involved please.

We had our PW derby today and 2 cars were clearly from last year's derby. One of them still had a marking we placed on it during the race. 

- rules were handed out and texted to all parents. #1 states: "NEW CAR: Car must be built this year (2019). Cars from earlier years are not eligible.

- the cars in question were compared to pictures from previous years by 3 leaders.

- 6 leaders discussed including cub master, assistant cub master, committee member & 3 DLs

-we are a small pack of 18 

- instead of disqualifying the cars the leaders agreed to subtract 1/8 of a second off the time of the 2 cars in question.

The 2 families are now angry with the pack and have threatened to not return. They both claim that their cars have been 'redone'... Weights changed, 'same style', wheels removed and reapplied, etc. We tried to compromise with a time penalty and allow them to be in the race. Well, guess who is the bad guy now. 

In addition, 1 scout wasn't there. His parents brought the car for him.

We are unsure of how to respond besides putting our foot down and saying, yes we are at fault. The cars should have been disqualified. Period.

What a learning experience.

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If you give a mouse a cookie ...

Frankly, I see no trouble with accepting last year's car if that's what the scout wanted to do.

It really is the parent who lost an opportunity to help his/her son fashion a new car. That's a really heavy price, the cost of which they will never recoup.

However, your race, your rules. It is a good idea to stick to whatever guidelines your district uses because, if district has that same rule, it could be an automatic D/Q at that level if one of those cars had advanced to district and does it again this year.

Don't let bad attitudes tarnish your experience. You're preparing these boys for life. And technicalities are part of life.

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I was really hands-on with my Den this year for PWD, with half of my den being new scouts. So I talked to every parent, new and returning, and really made sure everyone was sticking to the rules. In those conversations I found out a parent had bought a complete pre-made car, which is against our Pack rules. I let them know that they'd likely be disqualified on the day of inspection, so they went and built a new car with their scout. Problem avoided. 

Sometimes sending around the rules in an email isn't enough. It should be, everyone should read them. But we all know how that goes. 

My Pack also does inspections/weigh-ins several days before the derby. All scouts must turn in their cars on that night, and the Pack keeps all cars until race day. This drastically speeds up things on the day of the race, and also gives us more of a chance to potentially deal with any rules issues. It also gives scouts the chance to fix any issues if a car is disqualified. We don't accept late entries, except in the case of a disqualification and a scout has the opportunity to re-submit the car on race day for a one-time re-inspection (if it fails again, no racing). 

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PWD seems to bring out the worst in some to complain and push the rules.

Every race seems to encourage the rule of "must be a newly built car", so you aren't in the wrong there. A car that is just wheels removed and regraphited is not a new car. As you now see, you should follow the original rules regardless.

I guess the real question is how do you want to handle the families going forward. What is it the families want? What will make them happy? is it worth it to keep them around?

 

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I know a family where the mom and dad had a horrific breakup.  The dad and son had worked on an incredible car the year before, and the boy ran it twice.  I don't know if he had any chance to do another car the next year.   Sometimes it's good to put kindness first and not get to picky about the circumstances. 

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You bring up some good points. 

We are following the district rules because our pack will be hosting our district PWD. 

Hmmm... good idea to go over the rules with each parent. And if this should happen in the future, a chance for a scout to redo their car is also a good idea. I would imagine some of this trouble would have been avoided if the parents had a heads up beforehand.

"Is it worth keeping them around"... we have been asking ourselves this question. Both families dont fully participate. Dont help out, very rarely go on outings, have never been camping and both boys have been with us from Wolf and are now AOL. Both families are the big complainers of the group and are not team players in any way. Always complaining & never helping. Both have debated before about weather to continue on with scouts. You get the picture.

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7 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

I know a family where the mom and dad had a horrific breakup.  The dad and son had worked on an incredible car the year before, and the boy ran it twice.  I don't know if he had any chance to do another car the next year.   Sometimes it's good to put kindness first and not get to picky about the circumstances. 

We did think about letting it slide to make our lives easier. They problem was that 1 of the cars in question caused a big to do the year before. Many families thought it was wrongfully modified. It was a car no one forgot. So on the flip side. We had parents who followed the rules and took the time to build a new car questioning if we were going to let them run it again. It was a tough spot to be in.

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Honestly, I think some packs allow their derbys to become excessively race-oriented rather than family-oriented. If at any point you allow regulations on the cars to become restrictions on involvement, you have a problem.

Obviously, you need rules and guidelines to make an event like this manageable, but your goal should be getting the boys and their families to participate. Winning a race should be peripheral to spending time with the pack and providing an enjoyable time for all involved. Shaving fractions of a second (which sounds almost fanatically obsessive to me) off of a boy's time reiterates the idea that your event is about winning, when in fact, it's about building unity within families - and within your pack. 

I suggest making moves to simplify your event. For example, our pack make a lot of "reformations" if you will while my older brother was Cubmaster. First we simplified the awards - every boy received a participation medal, but there were five "prize" medals - Fastest Car (no 2nd or 3rd place), slowest car (it has to make it all the way to the finish line to count though - we call it the "Marathon Winner"), Cub Scout's Choice (chosen by votes from all the boys), Most Creative and Best Craftsmanship (selected by the Key 3). This leveled the playing field a bit, giving boys a chance to win a prize for more than just a fast car. In fact, the Marathon Winner has become a highly coveted car lately, with some boys aiming specifically to get the slowest car they can make! 

It also decreases negative parental involvement dramatically since the "esteem" of the fastest car is no longer the central focal point of the event. We trashed all the fancy-shmancy electrical timers and whatnot that just made things more complicated, and instead started bringing in three community and congregational leaders each year to act as judges. The car they say wins the round, wins the round. Simple. We have established that what they say goes, and as they are very respected, impartial guests, we haven't had any problems from parents taking umbrage with their decisions. 

Now, you obviously have to find what works for your group, but making changes like these help reestablish the Pinewood Derby as an exciting, friendly night that celebrates the hard work and creativity of the boys and their families through the simple game of racing cars with friends. The simpler, the better. If a boy wants to refurbish an old car, what of it? If it still meets the prescribed dimensions of weight and size, there's no harm in that. The boy can do as he wishes if he follows the basic parameters. 

I will however agree that if a boy isn't there, you have no need to race his car. At these ages, they won't care all that much about an event they didn't attend. But for those who are there - do what you can to include for the boy's sake, not exclude for the rule's sake.

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Thank you The Latin Scot. You gave me a lot to think about.  I like your idea of not awarding 1st, 2nd & 3rd. We used to do best in show chosen by someone not involved with the scouts but that led to an angry family and a scout quitting also. We can't win it seems. 

We did 'include' by shaving off fractions of a second. It would have been a hell of a lot easier to just disqualify, but we would have not been happy to see a scout walk away not being able to participate. We tried to find a middle of the road solution. When will we learn that we will never make all families happy.

 

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1 hour ago, WisconsinMomma said:

I know a family where the mom and dad had a horrific breakup.  The dad and son had worked on an incredible car the year before, and the boy ran it twice.  I don't know if he had any chance to do another car the next year.   Sometimes it's good to put kindness first and not get to picky about the circumstances. 

our pack always had old spare pw cards in the closet.  anyone that didn't want to keep their car could donate it to the cause.  these served as examples to new cubs/parents and were also used as family participation cars after the cub races were over.  my 30yo+ cars are part of that collection so they still get run on occasion.  Kindness is important but compromising the rules for an individual when everyone else followed them can lead to problems.  Our pack always had a few days when cubs with no tools at home or a parent that couldn't help would be able to come in and get their cars ready.

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5 hours ago, thrifty said:

our pack always had old spare pw cards in the closet.  anyone that didn't want to keep their car could donate it to the cause.  these served as examples to new cubs/parents and were also used as family participation cars after the cub races were over.  my 30yo+ cars are part of that collection so they still get run on occasion.  Kindness is important but compromising the rules for an individual when everyone else followed them can lead to problems.  Our pack always had a few days when cubs with no tools at home or a parent that couldn't help would be able to come in and get their cars ready.

OK, imagine you are a 9 year old and your parents just had a nasty split brewing for who knows how many years, and you have a car you made with your Dad who is no longer around, and you and your Dad built this beautiful car together.  I imagine, it's a treasure to you.   Some adult tells you to take someone else's leftover car?   No.  That is for a kid whose family didn't have the time or resources to make anything and got caught unprepared.  In our experience, this kid's car was slower the 2nd year because it wasn't tuned up or anything.  But he had his cool car and I imagine and hope he has some happy memories of building that car. 

Pinewood derby is for the kids, not the parents, so the main concern should be -- are the kids having a good time?  Are they being good sports? 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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Our pack has nearly  no rules for PWD.  You make a car and we give out rough measurements for what will fit on the track.  Hopefully, all the cars fit on the track and we make onsite modifications and repairs if cars are presented that won't make it down the track.  We give fastest and second fastest in each Den awards, as well as best Design in each den awards, and everybody gets a small trophy with their name on it.  Yes, we spend a lot on trophies.  It works for us.  We now have a batch of new parents who seem more rules-oriented, so that might evolve, but for my kids' duration in the pack, it's all about just seeing the car you made run the race. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma
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8 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Our pack has nearly  no rules for PWD.  You make a car and we give out rough measurements for what will fit on the track.  Hopefully, all the cars fit on the track and we make onsite modifications and repairs if cars are presented that won't make it down the track.  We give fastest and second fastest in each Den awards, as well as best Design in each den awards, and everybody gets a small trophy with their name on it.  Yes, we spend a lot on trophies.  It works for us.  We now have a batch of new parents who seem more rules-oriented, so that might evolve, but for my kids' duration in the pack, it's all about just seeing the car you made run the race. 

I like your approach.  So often we create rules that ... if we enforce, we upset the people and they quit ... or if we don't enforce we're not fair to others.  

I like your current approach because it reflects natural consequences.   For example, size.  Here is the size we can do.  If it's beyond that, it won't fit on the track.  

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9 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Our pack has nearly  no rules for PWD.  You make a car and we give out rough measurements for what will fit on the track.  Hopefully, all the cars fit on the track and we make onsite modifications and repairs if cars are presented that won't make it down the track.  We give fastest and second fastest in each Den awards, as well as best Design in each den awards, and everybody gets a small trophy with their name on it.  Yes, we spend a lot on trophies.  It works for us.  We now have a batch of new parents who seem more rules-oriented, so that might evolve, but for my kids' duration in the pack, it's all about just seeing the car you made run the race. 

WM describes our pack. We also make the pinewood derby night family night. We usually do it on a Friday night so as not to worry about school the next day. The first 30 minutes are siblings racing old cars built in previous years. We sell a meal of hot day, chips, cookie and coke for a very reasonable price. The CM gets the crowd doing cheers and tells jokes during the quiet periods. While the scouts build and race the cars, the evening is truly a family night out. To keep the time reasonable (90 minutes), we run two tracks (borrow one from another pack) with each scout seeing his car race a minimum of around 8 times. Chairs are set as close to the tracks as possible so everyone can see and feel being part of the race. 

Ah, those were good times.

Barry

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We have a few rules like this, including you can't use kits bought at the store. We've had a few families do that, buy a kit, we've had a scout borrow a last year car from another scout, we've had someone try and race their winning car from the year before. What we have decided to do is to allow the scout to race their car, they can sit and watch, cheer it on, but it will never win. We simply disqualify it from being eligible to win the race. So far its never been an issue.

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