Off to the Races

Off to the Races

We’re wrapping up of one of the most fun seasons in the Scouting calendar – Pinewood Derby season! For those who came up through Cub Scouts or who are involved in our program today, you know the excitement of building, decorating and racing those cars. Pinewood Derby is an institution, and with good reason. The experience encapsulates so much of what Scouting is all about.

Pinewood Derby is an early example of how our programs encourage children to learn new skills, express their personalities and take their own lead in the activities we offer. Every Pinewood Derby season, Cub Scouts is awash in creativity. Parents and children bond over building and engineering cars, figuring out the appropriate shape and weight positioning for maximum speed. Kids bring their personalities to bear in their car decorations, making the Derby a wonderful opportunity to get insight into each Cub Scout’s personality and interests. Some demonstrate their love of a character or an obvious lack of patience for painting. Either way, it’s wonderful self-expression. That sense of personalization is carried throughout the Scouting experience. In our older youth programs, Scouts choose what merit badges to pursue, lead service projects to help people or places they care about, and take on leadership roles that suit their interests. It keeps the journey fun, and I think it’s a big part of why this program works for so many youth.

We often hear from grown Scouts that “Scouting made me who I am today.” I truly believe that offering young people the opportunity to pursue their interests through our program is part of why we elicit that reaction. Scouting may provide a framework of core values and guiding lessons, but it lets you be who you are from the very beginning. And that starts with Pinewood Derby.

Along with being an opportunity for personal expression, this event is an exercise in character building. Learning how to win or lose with grace, encouraging your peers, and playing by the rules are important skills that come into play during these races. These can be tough lessons for a very young person, but time and again we see Cub Scouts rise to the occasion. I’m always proud to see young children, involved parents, and adult volunteers embracing these values and immersing themselves in the experience. 

This year, hundreds of thousands of new Cub Scouts experienced the fun for the very first time. I hope all of you who participated or supported these events had the best Pinewood Derby season yet.

Yours in Scouting,

Mike

Michael Surbaugh

Michael Surbaugh is the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America and a member of the organization's "Key 3" providing leadership and vision to the Scouting movement all across the United States. Find weekly posts at the Chief's Corner on Scoutingwire.org

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Off to the Races
Off to the Races
Off to the Races
Off to the Races