In addition to the point of the Scout Law, the BSA also provides a supplemental theme to help you plan your pack meeting activities and make the Law come alive. January’s supplemental theme is “The Great Race,” and most of the suggested activities point to the Pinewood Derby as they teach boys the ethics of racing, trustworthiness, and good sportsmanship.
I remember the pinewood derby being my favorite Cub Scout pack meeting activity all year, though as the only sister of six brothers I was always sad I couldn’t participate. I loved watching the boys build, decorate, and race their cars, and they always seemed to have fun regardless of the race’s outcome. The pinewood derby not only gave my dad the chance to teach his sons about tools and workshop safety, but also offered valuable teaching moments about being a good sport and following the rules. The fun and competition of the pinewood derby is a great setting to teach your Scouts about the importance of being trustworthy as they do their best and support their fellow Scouts.
If you are doing your pinewood derby in January, take a couple of the suggestions from January’s program materials to round out your pack meeting. If you are doing your derby in February, you may want to dedicate some of January’s pack meeting time to helping boys work on their cars by providing tools and materials. You can also use the suggested program elements to prepare your Cubs for the race the following month. Either way, the program materials are a great resource. Read all the suggested elements and activities for January here.
Here are a couple of my favorite elements:
Gathering—Oops, the Tires Are Flat (Simple ring toss game)
- Rings (canning jar rings, ring toss rings, etc.). One set of four rings for each set of “car tires.”
- Four “car tires” (2-liter bottles, toy bowling pins, marking cones, etc.).
The number of sets will depend on the size of your pack.
Instructions: Set up the “car tires” to look like the tires on a car—two of them side by side about 2 feet apart, then the second two the same distance apart, but about 3 feet over from the first set. They should create a rectangle when placed.
Cubmaster: “The tires have gone flat on our race car, and the Cub Scout must get all four tires changed to get us back in the race.” Decide how far back you want the Cub Scouts to stand. When the first Scout is ready, have him toss the rings until he has one on each of the “tires.” Once he has a ring on each of the four tires, the next Cub Scout plays.
A preassigned den presents the colors. The audience stands and recites the Pledge of Allegiance and sings “America the Beautiful.”
Race flags—A preassigned den can assist with this. Have one flag of each color—the flags can be made of paper, fabric, felt, etc. Have one boy as the narrator, and one boy for each flag who will step forward with his flag and recite the line(s).
Narrator: “Flags have had many uses throughout our history to communicate information. Colored flags used in auto racing can be an example of how we travel through life.”
Cub Scout 1: “Green—This flag signals the beginning of our race—we can go as fast as we dare, trusting there are no obstacles to get in our way.”
Cub Scout 2: “Yellow—This flag signals caution—we need to slow down and continue cautiously. Danger may lie ahead.”
Cub Scout 3: “Red and yellow stripes—This flag means a barrier is ahead with debris on the track! We sometimes meet challenges in life. A trustworthy Scout meets these barriers and overcomes them to race ahead cautiously but surely toward the goal.“
Cub Scout 4: “Red—STOP! There IS danger ahead. We must stop and rethink our plan before moving forward.”
Cub Scout 5: “Black—Sometimes in a race, mistakes are made. We all make mistakes, but a trustworthy racer admits the mistake, corrects it with the help of the members of his team, learns how to avoid that mistake, and gets back out on the track.”
Cub Scout 6: “White—There is only one lap to go. The goal is up ahead, so we stay the course to reach the finish line.”
Cub Scout 7: “Black-and-white checkered—WE DID IT! We finished the race. We didn’t give up and did our best.” (This flag should be waved enthusiastically.)
The Cubmaster calls the names of those Cub Scouts who have earned their Bobcat rank and says, “We ask these Scouts who have finished the first lap of our Cub Scout race, the Bobcat, to come forward with their parents or guardians, who, like any trustworthy great pit crew, helped keep them on the track.”
As each of the following ranks is presented, the Cubmaster says:
Tiger: “The Tiger lap of the race included many adventures with their partners, making them a trustworthy team for this leg of the race.”
Wolf: “The Wolf lap of the race became even more difficult, but our trustworthy Wolves stayed on their course, working as a team through their adventures.”
Bear: “The Bear team raced their lap at a fast pace, learning many new skills that served them well in running an honest, dependable race.”
Webelos: “The Webelos Scouts learned new skills in leadership and the outdoors that helped them stay true on their race. Their Webelos badge is proof that they are trustworthy to lead others and are steadfast in their Cub Scout knowledge.”
Arrow of Light: “These Scouts have reached the highest rank in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light. They have been in pole position throughout the race and now cross the finish line of their Cub Scout race and stand in victory lane, ready to move on to Boy Scouts, trustworthy and true to the Scout Oath and Law.”
“We have seen that being trustworthy is important to our success in the great Cub Scout race and each stage of our lives. By being steadfast and honest, we can overcome any barrier or mistake and celebrate when we see the checkered flag at the end of every race we run.” Have all checkered flags wave for a few moments.
What do you do for pack meeting on or around the pinewood derby? How do you teach your Cub Scouts to be trustworthy? Give us your ideas below.
Author: Maria Milligan | Grant Writer, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.