Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pinewood Derby

Last Saturday Ray competed in his first Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.

He began working on his car several weeks ago. He and Jon paid a visit to our very talented woodworker friend, Mr. Dave.

Dave helped Ray cut and sand his car.

Next, Jon made several trips to the hardware store to get a bunch of I don't know what. He puttered and tinkered with that car A LOT. There were weights, drills, glue, and graphite involved. Fortunately, he had some tools and tips from his brother-in-law (another Dave) and his own experience of working on his Pinewood Derby cars as a kid. He is very proud of the fact that his car won the Pinewood Derby one year.

Let me just say I had NO IDEA how involved this whole process would be!

Ray painted his car and I helped him with some touch-ups.

Jon attached the wheels and tinkered around with it even more.

Finally, the big day arrived! We all headed to the church hall for the big race. Ray was very proud of his car and very excited to race it.

This next picture shows the highlight of the day (for Jon at least). When the official weigher guy weighed Ray's car, he declared it to be PERFECT... exactly five ounces. Yeah!

Here's Ray with some of his den friends.

The official certificate and badge ---

Waiting for his turn to race ---

And they're off.....

Now let me just say that Ray's car - which he named "Red Lightning" - was not exactly a successful racecar. As a matter of fact, it never won a race or beat a single competitor. It wobbled clumsily down the track. I won't show any pictures here of the long faces (Ray's and Jon's). However, we learned some good lessons that day.

First of all, I was so proud of Ray. He did not cry or have a tantrum. He truly enjoyed the racing. His main comment was that he couldn't believe all the work he did didn't pay off. Later, after we left, he was very sad for a while. We talked a lot about how we have to try some things many times before we experience success. Ray decided that he definitely wants to make another car and compete again next year.

Second, I learned that we are part of an awesome Boy Scout Pack. I was so very impressed by the way this event was run. There were no brackets or trophies. The Pack Leader was an excellent announcer, encouraging all of the boys, using humor, making the event quick and fun. He called up the boys one level at a time. After everyone got a chance to race, he declared it to be "open racing time." All of the boys just kept lining up and racing and racing and racing. At one point he did call up some of the fastest cars and have them race each other. None of the boys was made to feel bad. They all had a great time.

Third, this Pinewood Derby thing is more competitive and important to the dads than the boys. It was very funny to see some of these guys doing last minute preparations and watching these races so intensely. It took Jon a few days to process the agony of defeat. He is still analyzing where he went wrong with the weights, etc. The leader joked about having a legacy race next year.... having all these dads bring the cars they've saved since they were kids. Very funny!

It's hard to see your child experience loss/failure, but it's important for them to experience it and be guided through it and learn from it. Today I asked Ray how he was feeling about the Pinewood Derby and he said, "I pretty much forgot about it, but I am glad I get to actually play with that car now."

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