Children Get Creative at the Pinewood Derby

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Story by Lance Cpl. Courtney White

Cub Scouts line up along the caution tape surrounding the race track while preparing to watch their car compete against other cars for the fastest speed. Chatter fills the room as the scout master puts up two fingers, a move that all of the children mimic. With the signal for everyone to be quiet, the race is ready to begin.

Tri-Command’s Cub Scouts celebrated an annual Pinewood Derby at Galer Elementary School’s cafeteria aboard Laurel Bay, Saturday, Feb. 13.

The Pinewood Derby is a race that Cub Scouts participate in yearly after building their own race car with their personal, unique style, using materials given to them.

“This is a great opportunity for the children to build something useful with very few materials,” said Maj. Charles Bercier, the scout master for pack 283. “The main focus of these activities is to get the families involved in their child’s life and to teach the children different skills.”

The 60 Cub Scouts who participated ranged from first through fifth grade. Each child was given a block of wood and materials needed to build a wooden car no heavier than five ounces.

A wide variety of creative pinewood cars were raced showing each child’s uniqueness. Some children cut their car for a sleek design while others maintained a box-shaped car, and each car was painted differently. Some children painted military-style cars, a plain favorite color or a motivational character such as Cubby, the scout mascot.

The cubs are given about a month to complete their box car during Cub Scout meetings and at home with the assistance of their family. There were various rules and restrictions on the car such as the car could not be longer than seven inches, the wood provided in the kit had to have been used and wheel bearings, washers and bushings were prohibited.

“We had a difficult time getting my car to be at the right weight, but it was still fun building it,” said Joshua Fuson, the Cub Scout who won first place in speed. “My favorite part of the derby was seeing everyone’s cool car. I’m looking forward to next year’s derby.”

The Cub Scouts have been a part of the Tri-Command Community since the 1970s, offering a chance for the children to learn a wide variety of skills.

“Cub scouting is a great family program that gets the children off of the couch and away from electronics,” Bercier said.

The children competed for first second and third place in categories for both the speed of the car and the most creative design. However, all Cub Scouts received a certificate and patch for participating.

Each box car raced in all four lanes offering the Cub Scouts a chance to watch their car compete multiple times. After the race was completed, all of the scores were added together to give a fair score.

“Once the children have participated in one derby, they become much more excited about the next one and how they can improve their car,” said Amy Albert, a Cub Scout parent. “The children always improve over the years, and the changes are visible as their imagination grows.”

The Cub Scouts will continue to work together and host more events such as the upcoming Blue and Gold Banquet which will give the children a chance to get together.

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