Our boys are in the first grade and this is the first year we’ve had them in Cub Scouts. We started in October and have been learning as we go. They’ve had fun so far, but the Pinewood Derby was an interesting experience for the whole family. My husband approached this project with a whole “don’t worry, we’ll get this done” mentality. Me…that’s not the way I roll, so I was constantly asking him when he was going to start working on the dang cars! The boys didn’t really seem to understand the whole concept, so I’d be lying if I said they were overly enthusiastic about working on the cars. For a while it seemed like I was the only one that actually cared about this!
As my husband researched what needed to be done and found designs that the boys could chose from, I didn’t realize that new power tools would end up in my house. One day a new saw arrived (don’t ask me what kind it is, but it’s taller than me!). Then the next day there was the belt sander. And then finally, there was a stop at the local hardware store to get a new bit for the Dremmel tool that I didn’t know he owned. A quick glance at my Visa bill stopped me cold in my tracks and made me think that perhaps we didn’t really need to work on these cars, but by then my hubby had actually started on the project so it was too late to turn back!
Step 1 was to get the boys to choose a design. After showing them many different drawings on the Internet, they finally chose a Navy Destroyer and a box of Crayola Crayons (Cars #1 and #2 to the left). Then the great woodworking project of 2010 began. And sawdust started coming up from the basement…after it got all over the laundry. Apparently because the new saw and belt sander couldn’t go in the garage because it’s still winter and my husband didn’t want to get cold…grrrr.
After all the cutting and the sanding, which seemed to take weeks after all the breaks thrown in, it was finally time to paint the crazy things. The boys liked the idea of painting them since hubby wouldn’t let them near his power tools. I have to say that both of the boys did a fine job of applying the base coat. As we got into the more detail paint work, they quickly lost interest and wandered off to watch Spongebob. This is how I found myself painting Pinewood Derby cars at 7PM on a Saturday, the night before the race. Nothing like cutting it down to the wire!
Race day was interesting. Our pack did the weigh-in the hour before the race started. The night before, after the painting, we had my food scale out weighing the things and adjusting the weights to get the cars as close to 5 ounces without going over. By the time we were done, the Navy Destroyer was 4.94 ounces and the Crayola Crayon box was at 4.92. We declared that close enough and went to bed! The pack used grams to weigh-in and the guy in charge thought that perhaps our cars were a little light and offered us more weights to put on them. I just shook my head and said “no thank you” while I was actually thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me…I’m not doing anything else to those stupid cars!”. Not very motherly, I know, but I’ve discovered that race cars are NOT my thing! Anyway…
Fast forward about 45 minutes and it’s time to start racing. Our boys are Tiger Cubs and there were 5 cars in their race. The track our pack built was very impressive to me, considering I’d never seen anything quite like it. It had four lanes and each car had to race in each lane. The scores were calculated by sensors attached to the track. I learned that the times of all the races are calculated and the boys with the lowest times (in milliseconds) win. Since I walked into this thing just hoping the cars would make it down the track, imagine my surprise when not one of my boys, but BOTH of them won trophies. The Crayola Crayon took 1st place and the Navy Destroyer came in 2nd. Everyone was asking my husband what he did and he wasn’t sure what to say since he didn’t think the cars would win either. And this was the point where our boys got very excited because they got called up and got to get trophies, which was a first for both of them.
I thought that the racing would be over for us after the pack race, but since they took 1st and 2nd place, that means we are headed to the district competition in April. I doubt we’ll do as well at the larger competition, but I’m looking forward to it since I know the boys will have fun. Cub Scouts has been a good family activity and I’m hoping we’ll be involved in it for years to come!