Cub Scout Derbies
Cub Scout derbies—the pinewood derby, raingutter regatta, and space derby—are optional but valuable activities for Cub Scouts. Many men who once were Cub Scouts fondly recall their derby experiences: planning the design of their vehicle, working with a parent to build it, and seeing it perform on race day when, win or lose, they could take pride in having done their best. In this way, the three basic lessons learned by participating in a Cub Scout derby—the craft skills, the rules of fair play, and good sportsmanship—are remembered for a lifetime.
Types of Derbies
A wide variety of derbies can be held. But by far, the most popular types are the pinewood derby, raingutter regatta, space derby, and Cubmobile derby.
The pinewood derby is one of the most popular and successful family activities in Cub Scouting. Pinewood derby cars are small wooden models that boys make with help from their families and then race in competition. The cars are powered by gravity and run down a regulation track. The pinewood derby is an annual event in most packs. It can be run indoors or outdoors. Every boy can design and build his own "grand prix" car to enter in the race.
The raingutter regatta, in which boats race along a narrow channel, has two versions. The wind-powered version uses sailboat designs, and the boats are blown down the channel. The propeller-powered version uses motorboats driven by propeller.
Another popular family-son project is the space derby. It's similar to the pinewood derby except the models are miniature rockets driven by propellers powered by rubber bands along a suspended, heavy monofilament line.
Each den works together to build a "Cubmobile," a pint-sized racing vehicle. Each den has one racer, and each boy in the den races in the car once. Usually, a ramp is used to help start the cars, and they are gravity-propelled downhill to the finish line. The race is held on a smooth street with a gradual slope, in cooperation with local authorities.
Kits and supplies for the pinewood derby, raingutter regatta, and space derby are available from the national Supply Division. See their Web site at www.scoutstuff.org.
Planning Your Derby
All derbies and regattas have some things in common. They all require planning and preparation, they all involve competition and prizes, and they provide fun for boys and their families. Always remember that in Cub Scouting, it's more important to "Do Your Best" than to come in first.
Because the derby is a major event, it should be planned and prepared by its own program committee, which will need to:
- Follow the guidelines for planning special pack activities found in chapter 6 of the Cub Scout Leader Book.
- Provide each participating family with a set of simple, uncomplicated rules, including a time schedule.
- Plan and carry out appropriate opening, award, and closing ceremonies.
- Handle all aspects of awards, not only prizes for the "winners," but recognition for every boy for participating in the derby.
- Plan for crowd control.
- Devise a fair method of judging.
- Plan and provide appropriate decorations with lots of boy participation.
You can find more information about derbies in the Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Guidebook.