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Front Page » March 6, 2012 » Emery County News » Reflections on the pinewood derby
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Reflections on the pinewood derby

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By Emily Neilson

"On My Honor" (and The Pinewood Derby)

I was recently called as a volunteer assistant Stake Cub Master. I have not worked with the Cub Scouts before but I'm sure it will be a good experience. I'm married, with a son Brian, and daughter. Brian was a Boy Scout. He became Eagle Scout at age 14. We are so proud of him. He did everything with the help of great, dedicated scout leaders at his side. The values instilled in young boys through the Boy Scouts are rare these days. It's a great program.

So the Boy Scout Oath begins: "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my county; and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Their slogan is "Do a good turn daily" which means to look for ways to do an act of special kindness for someone else. The Boy Scout Law states that they are to be "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."

Not a bad set of guidelines for young boys...or us. The Boy Scouts of America have been around since 1910 and they have been helping to shape and mold young men for each of those 102 years. Now if only more people were willing to step up and be part of the program. How much better of a world would we have if we had more men willing to live up to the Oath, Law, and willing to say the pledge to the flag, and realize the gravity of the words they were repeating every week. Great things could be done.

Maybe your son or grandson is a Cub Scout now and that means uniforms and badges and patches and...the Pinewood Derby. Some of you may know nothing about Pinewood Derby racing, and others will have fond memories of building, preparing and racing your cars when you were young. Feb. 23 was the big Pinewood Derby race in Ferron. Three "dens" came together to see which Cub Scout had built the fastest pinewood derby racer (with some help from dad-well maybe a lot of help from dad). You realize that an awful lot of painstaking work goes into each car.

Each scout begins with a block of pine, a set of four wheels and axles. Their task is to cut, sand, whittle, chisel, and detail it into their personal design. There is much creativity and ingenuity represented here. He will learn about potential energy, aerodynamics, physics, and which tools to use to do the job, and the need to pay attention to each little detail in order to make a winner.

When the boys arrived at the "race track," the first station was the weigh in table. They have a specific weight limit they must meet (5 ounces) along with some other specifications. Next was a trip to the "Pit Stop" if you needed to adjust your car's weight a little. There were 50 cars registered this night. All the cars were ready to be run through a series of "heats", four cars at a time.

The cars are placed at the top of a ramp and started together by a mechanical release. Their race times are determined by laser lights that are calculated and tracked by a computer, which also determines the pairings for each heat. This is done in such a way as to ensure that each car will run at least once on each track to eliminate the possibility that one track might be slower than another. The results of each heat are projected automatically on a screen, showing first through fourth place, speed, and track time, down to thousandths of a second.

I imagine that each car was designed to be the fastest. Of course, not all cars will win. Unfortunately, some cars were eliminated by some very; very fast cars...built by some of the older and more experienced Cub Scouts. So, this will be a learning year for them (and their dads). You walk around and examine the winners to see if you could pick up some tips and my guess is next year they will build an even faster pinewood racer.

However, as I watched the Cub Scouts, this night, and their parents, I had a sense that somehow this was how life in rural communities was meant to be lived. The boys were living up to their oath and motto. No bad language, no pouting for those whose cars didn't perform well, no quarrels or arguments...just a bunch of neat kids and neat parents and families all having a great time together.

Maybe we should have pinewood derby races for all the families in our communities...getting together every other month or so to race our cars. I'd recommend adding a special, "Dad" race at the end of the event. But, more importantly, to say "hi" and talk and laugh and...well, just be good neighbors to one another. We could call it the Pinewood Community Derby. I suppose, though, we would all need to take the oath "love your neighbor as yourself."

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