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Saturday, February 12, 2011

derby day

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We're up early this morning because it is an important day in a Scouting household. Today is Derby Day, Pinewood Derby, that is. Little wooden cars will go flying down a wooden track, racing to the finish in just two short hours. Boys and their siblings will vie for the seats closest to the finish line, the better to judge the winners and the losers. Some kids will walk away with trophies. Most kids will not. This becomes an excellent teaching tool for parents and Leaders alike. You can't win them all.

I like the idea of the derby. I like the premise that elementary aged boys are given blocks of soft wood to shape into a car, attach wheels, and then race. I don't like the competitive spirit that goes into it. Now, don't get me wrong. I strongly feel that we shouldn't reward all the kids who participate in any given activity. There should certainly be winners and losers. Everyone should not go home with a trophy. However, the weeks leading up to the race can be stressful ones for parents.

The pressure to build the baddest, fastest, car on the block sends dads, and some moms, into a tizzy. From ordering special parts for their cars (guilty), to ordering professionally-made cars, to figuring out the perfect placement for the weights, the perfect shape for aerodynamics, and creating the smoothest possible axles, the derby can get a little extreme.

While we've gone over the top in years past, this year we opted out. Alex chose his design, though it certainly won't be the most aerodynamic car there. He had it cut out at the Pinewood Derby Workshop, hosted by our district. He brought it home and sanded it to his liking, and we pushed no further, even though the car is still rough and oddly-shaped. He chose his paint colors and design and painted the car on his own, with the exception of one oopsie-fix by me. We added the wheels just this morning.

Are we underachieving? Or, are we recognizing that this should be a fun event and placing less pressure on our son to get it right? He most likely won't win. He most likely won't even place. But, at least he hasn't spent months preparing for failure, as we have in previous years. At least his creativity shines through. I think he enjoyed making the car, as much as he could. He's not really a woodworker by heart.

So, the race begins soon. It will be an interesting morning, full of excitement. We'll go, we'll race, we'll leave. And, then we'll be done for another year.

I would post a picture of Alex's car, but I'm too comfy on the couch at the moment. Also, I don't have a lot of time for that right now. We leave in thirty minutes and I have yet to shower. Later, my friends. Later.


  1. You are recognizing that this should be a fun event and your son has done the best that he can to prepare for the event. He chose what kind of car he wanted and followed through with it. In the end he should be more proud of what he accomplished rather than placement. (Yes, I know a tough pill to swallow at any age but as long as he is happy with his car not much else should matter). KSW

  2. I love Pine Wood Derby! My parents were very involved in both of my brothers' dens. I looked forward to derby days every year!

  3. Oh!!! I remember all too well the hours my brother and dad spent in the basement working on his Pinewood Derby cars. Fond memories of watching their cars. One year they even won! I'm a new follower from the blog hop and enjoying reading! - Amy


  4. My brothers used to participate in those. They always had so much fun making them. Even my dad who wasn't exactly Father of the Year when it came to interacting with his kids seemed to enjoy helping them make the cars and dealing out advice. Any activity that gets the whole family involved and gets the child excited is worthwhile. Hope it went well for him and he had the time of his life.


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