My son has been in Cub Scouts for four years. I enrolled him because I knew that he would learn lots of great skills. As it turns out, he loves Cub Scouts! He not only has fun, he also learns skills to help him do things himself, he picks up positive life messages, and has a whole group of Cub Scout friends now too. Every year, the most anticipated event is the Pinewood Derby and it is a great culmination of what they have been learning all year- which is new skills, to do their best, and to have fun with everyone in their Pack. This post is brought to you by BSA but the content and opinions are my own.
What Is The Pinewood Derby?
If you have heard the Pinewood Derby mentioned but you aren’t sure exactly what it is, well, it is scouting fun at its best! The Pinewood Derby is a 64 year old tradition where Cub Scouts (with the help of their families) design a Pinewood Derby Car and participate in a Pinewood Derby race. A lot of work goes into making those wooden cars and a there is a huge amount of anticipation for the race day. It is a really fun way for the scouts and the parents of the scouts be involved with each other as a family unit and with the community as scouts and parents bond too!
Pinewood Derby Car Construction
The Pinewood Derby Car construction is half the fun. Each scout in our troop received a Pinewood Derby car kit which comes with a block of pine wood (with axel notches), four plastic wheels, and four nails.
The Pinewood Derby Car construction is a great chance for the Cub Scouts (and sometimes even the parents) to learn new skills. Our Cub Scout Pack has a big Pinewood Derby Workshop and Lock In every year. They bring all the tools you may need in case you don’t own them at home, which is pretty awesome. Scouts can work on Pinewood Derby Car Designs ahead of time and then cut their blocks down to size and at the workshop. The design process is a great time for them to learn STEM lessons about aerodynamics, and physics lessons how and where to place the weights to make it go fastest. Finishing details can be added any time before Derby Day.
In previous years, my son and my husband did all the Pinewood Derby car construction themselves and I just showed up for the race. I was always glad to see them getting their boy bonding in. This year, my son did a lot of it himself with my supervision and it was really fun to get to see him working on it. I loved watching his creativity and seeing the pride he took in his work.
He did the finishing touches of weighing the car, adding weights, and wheels with his dad. I always enjoy watching them work together! Designing and making the derby car is a several day process so it is a great way for scouts to learn planning, preparation, execution, and follow up on the details. It is really something for them to be proud of!
Pinewood Derby Race Day
After all the preparation and anticipation, the arrival of Pinewood Derby Race Day is an exciting day. Our Pack gathers together for pizza and drinks. Then the track is set up and the cars have their final weigh in and are registered. It is a lot of fun for the scouts and the parents and is a great community building night.
I loved getting to see all the Pinewood Derby Car designs. Some of the boys are so creative!
Everyone gathers together to watch the races and see the results. They take great care in placing the cars on the track and releasing them. Then the times are electronically reported and they put the results on a screen for everyone to see at our event.
Leo’s car didn’t win but that is a life lesson too. You won’t always win but as long as you give it your best, you can take pride in that. It also tells us we can learn more and do a better job designing and executing next year. He still had fun and I love this picture I snapped of him and his best friend with their Derby car creations after the races.
So what is a Pinewood Derby? The technical answer is a Pinewood Derby is a Cub Scout designing his own racing vehicle, working with a parent to build it, and seeing it perform on race day but it also includes learning preparation, design and crafting skills, the rules of fair play, good sportsmanship, and just plain fun. We love the Pinewood Derby Race and we love scouting. If you want to learn more about Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, visit beascout.scouting.org
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Pinewood Derby and scouting. It is a fun and exciting tradition we look forward to each year. Do you think your family would enjoy the Pinewood Derby? Were you or someone you know part of Boy Scouts of America when they were growing up? Is your child a Cub Scout? Feel free to share your thoughts on the Pinewood Derby and scouting below in the comments.