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Scandal at Pinewood Derby


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#1 amg4814

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 09:20 AM

I am the Den Leader for my Tiger Den. My boys participated in their first Pinewood Derby and had a blast, except that one was cheated out of a Den award.

 

Warning: The explanation of what transpired is lengthy and I would appreciate some advice.

 

In October, the Membership Coordinator  who is  also the mother of a Webelos II emailed me that her youngest son was interested in joining our Tiger Den. I invited her to come to our meetings, but she never showed. I saw her at Pack meetings and other events but she never said a word to me. I figured she joined another pack or something.

 

On Friday evening, I suddenly got an email from her asking if her son could join now. She said her youngest son was so inspired by his brother's Blue and Gold Dinner last weekend that he wanted to join now. I emailed her back with the date, time and location of our next meeting and told her we could sort out the membership details.

 

The next day Saturday was our Pinewood Derby. I was in charge of checking in the cars with another Den Leader. A little boy wearing a Tiger hat walked up to register his car. I was confused at first because I didn't recognize him. Then it dawned on me, he was her son. As Membership Coordinator, she had registered her son in my Tiger Den and now his  car as well. When she walked away, I explained to the other leader that he was not part of our Den yet and I had never met him. She said she could see the reason for concern, but this was not the time to say anything.

 

Before the start of the Derby, all of the Leaders and Assistant Leaders voted on the best designed car for each Den. One of the boys in my Den had an extremely creative car and everyone in our Den thought he would win most creative for our Den for sure. At the end of the Derby when it came time to announce the winners, the "new member" of our Den name was called as the winner of the Den award. Everyone in my Den was stunned, the boy who had the most creative car burst into tears. The "new member's" car was not anywhere near as creative as the other boy.

 

I found out later that the "new members" dad, uncle and family friend were all voting members for the Pack awards, I assuming that's how he won. The Tiger Den parents were of course upset. They felt it was unfair, that he was joining just for the Derby. I am at loss as to what to do. I mentioned something to our Pack Treasurer and he kind brushed it off and said we don't want to discourage boys from joining. I told him I agreed but he has not officially joined our Pack or our Den and that I've never met him or his mother.

 

Should I pursue this matter further? Let it go? What do I do if she comes to the Den meeting on Wednesday?


Edited by RememberSchiff, 05 March 2017 - 12:03 PM.
Clarity, I hope.

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#2 David CO

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:48 AM

There is nothing to pursue.  Let it go.  


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#3 qwazse

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 12:05 PM

Welcome the scout. Ask him more about how he made his car, what gave him the idea, etc ... Get to know his family better. Have fun.

As far as voting goes, be sure your assumption is correct. (It might not be.) If it is ask the committee politely that next year, they have only racers vote. But, never let this stuff get under your skin.

Edited by qwazse, 05 March 2017 - 12:06 PM.

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#4 Back Pack

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 12:33 PM

If post B&G, if he's not done with tiger or bobcat I don't get how he's allowed to have a car in that Den.

The right thing to do would be to let him race but not allow him to stand for any of the design awards.

Typical, parents make things worse than they need to be.
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#5 Stosh

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:49 PM

There is nothing worse than adults interfering in youth programs.  It happens on the Cub level and it happens on the Boy Scout level and it happens on the Venturing level.

 

I would have a den award, voted on by the boys in attendance on which car in the den was the "best".  I'd want that award from my friends and peers over some politically motivated vote by a group of adults with an agenda.


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There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#6 amg4814

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:47 AM

Thank you everyone for your advice.
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#7 jrush

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:43 AM

I can't add much except to second Stosh's comments. 

 

Well, okay, I can.  If that means that you tell the Pack's leaders "my den's racers voted, here is the envelope with the winner", that's what you do.  Maybe you have to go out on your own, get some tchotchke for "Den's Choice Award" and present it based on the boys' vote (if the wound is still fresh, you could still do this).  If the unit leaders insist on adults making the choice, have someone unconnected with the Pack do it.  Invite your district exec, maybe someone from the charter org who doesn't have a child in the pack, maybe invite local news to the PWD, there are myriad ways.  Failing that, ask that family on the "council of leaders" recuse themselves from voting Den awards that their kids are in.

 

All that said, the unit is supposed to be administered by adults, and adults should be able to handle an adult conversation about parents selecting subjective awards for their kids. 


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#8 fred johnson

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:54 AM

I'd do my best to let it go.  You will find things like this happen.  What one person does not think is a big deal is a big deal to another person.  Sadly, they probably thought it was not a big deal and you did.  You have ownership of a den and wanted to do right by your boys.  They wanted their son to race.  They probably did not see the issue.  I agree it's probably not right, but there is zero value in pursuing it.  

 

Maybe next year, have the den winner (if you need one) to be voted on by the boys in the den.  IMHO, that's the best way to teach social lessons by having the scouts see the feedback from their own peers.  It's more work for the adults, but not that much.  

 

Personally, I see many things like this just way way over-hyped.  In the grand scheme of scouting, Pinewood derby races are way over rated.  What are underrated are the outdoor games, hikes, campfires, other experiences ... and building friends and a social structure.  


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#9 JasonG172

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:22 AM

There is nothing to pursue.  Let it go.  

 

I have to agree with David on this one.  Now I don't understand the voting part, at ours ALL parents vote and all Leaders vote maybe next time consider ALL parties voting.

 

This is nothing new or any concern, we have new people all the time show up to Pinewood Derby and some have won.


Edited by JasonG172, 06 March 2017 - 11:26 AM.

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#10 JasonG172

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:24 AM

If post B&G, if he's not done with tiger or bobcat I don't get how he's allowed to have a car in that Den.

The right thing to do would be to let him race but not allow him to stand for any of the design awards.

Typical, parents make things worse than they need to be.

 

Transitions (after "rank" I know it isn't rank) does not occur until they move up a grade or age change regardless of B&G.  They are still a Tiger, Wolf or Bear.


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#11 perdidochas

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:29 AM

I am the Den Leader for my Tiger Den. My boys participated in their first Pinewood Derby and had a blast, except that one was cheated out of a Den award.

 

Warning: The explanation of what transpired is lengthy and I would appreciate some advice.

 

In October, the Membership Coordinator  who is  also the mother of a Webelos II emailed me that her youngest son was interested in joining our Tiger Den. I invited her to come to our meetings, but she never showed. I saw her at Pack meetings and other events but she never said a word to me. I figured she joined another pack or something.

 

On Friday evening, I suddenly got an email from her asking if her son could join now. She said her youngest son was so inspired by his brother's Blue and Gold Dinner last weekend that he wanted to join now. I emailed her back with the date, time and location of our next meeting and told her we could sort out the membership details.

 

The next day Saturday was our Pinewood Derby. I was in charge of checking in the cars with another Den Leader. A little boy wearing a Tiger hat walked up to register his car. I was confused at first because I didn't recognize him. Then it dawned on me, he was her son. As Membership Coordinator, she had registered her son in my Tiger Den and now his  car as well. When she walked away, I explained to the other leader that he was not part of our Den yet and I had never met him. She said she could see the reason for concern, but this was not the time to say anything.

 

Before the start of the Derby, all of the Leaders and Assistant Leaders voted on the best designed car for each Den. One of the boys in my Den had an extremely creative car and everyone in our Den thought he would win most creative for our Den for sure. At the end of the Derby when it came time to announce the winners, the "new member" of our Den name was called as the winner of the Den award. Everyone in my Den was stunned, the boy who had the most creative car burst into tears. The "new member's" car was not anywhere near as creative as the other boy.

 

I found out later that the "new members" dad, uncle and family friend were all voting members for the Pack awards, I assuming that's how he won. The Tiger Den parents were of course upset. They felt it was unfair, that he was joining just for the Derby. I am at loss as to what to do. I mentioned something to our Pack Treasurer and he kind brushed it off and said we don't want to discourage boys from joining. I told him I agreed but he has not officially joined our Pack or our Den and that I've never met him or his mother.

 

Should I pursue this matter further? Let it go? What do I do if she comes to the Den meeting on Wednesday?

 

Sounds legal, although unethical. If she comes to the Den meeting on Wednesday, welcome her and her son.  They obviously need to learn about ethics. 


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#12 fred johnson

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:57 AM

This is nothing new or any concern, we have new people all the time show up to Pinewood Derby and some have won.

 

I don't think this is worth pursuing, but I do want to validate the original posters feelings.  I think she is right to be frustrated at the situation.  Yes, we always need to welcome new families and new scouts.  So the right choice is to let the new scout race and participate.  But a den is a collection of boys that are doing activities, getting to know each other, forming friendships and working together toward their rank objective.  
 
When an unknown person wins best-in-den, it's a slap to the members of the den.  Maybe best in rank would be okay, but best in den does seem wrong.  The idea of a den level award is to promote den identity and pride.  An unknown person winning that award works against the goal of that type of award.  Perhaps, next year let the den members vote to choose best in den.  Heck, they might choose the new scout's car.  Maybe don't have this award.  
 
I've seen it too where a cub was really not active, but his family was members of the pack for the pinewood derby.  And they would almost always win.  It was a little frustrating.  But then again, it's cub scouts.  Ya gotta let things like this go.  
 
Anyway, there is nothing to do except think about how the race could be changed next year.  
 
The most important thing is to let go of any bad feelings.  It's now in the past.  Move on.  Build friendships.  Promote great experiences. 

Edited by fred johnson, 06 March 2017 - 12:00 PM.

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#13 Stosh

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:28 PM

Of course one has to admire the parents that do it a little "off bubble".  I heard of a fella in the next state over that was a mechanical engineer by trade.  When his oldest boy was in Tigers, he developed a plan for putting together a derby car.  His boy won every year through Webelos II.  He passed down the plans to his younger brother who passed it down until all 4 boys got through Cubbing.  None of the boys ever lost in all their years.  When his youngest aged out of Webelos II he was asked by the if he would now share the plans with the other scouts now that he didn't have any boys in the program anymore.  He said, "Nope" and burned the plans.  :)  Other than creating the plans, he had no involvement whatsoever with the boys' cars.  Of course everyone figured he was building the cars for his boys.


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#14 Col. Flagg

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:39 PM

We got tired of the PWD drama. So we did this:

  • Everyone got their cars the same day.
  • We got a few "shop dads" to donate their gear and we set up a workshop.
  • All boys got a few hours to design their cars, then build, then paint. 
  • The "shop dads" would supervise and make sure hands weren't being cut off, etc.
  • Cars when done -- and the boys said when they were done -- they were inspected to make sure they worked and met specs. They were "impounded" for the race the next day.
  • Everyone shows up and watched their cars race. Winners won and losers lost, but the playing field was even.

Edited by Col. Flagg, 06 March 2017 - 03:40 PM.

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#15 clemlaw

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:15 PM

In the pack we were in, the Tigers did not compete for the various "best of" categories.  Instead, all of them got a "participation trophy," kind of award.  Normally, I'm not a big fan of participation trophies, but it worked out well, since they were just first graders, probably wouldn't have won a real award, and they got to go home with something.  Occasionally, one of them had a car that actually won the race, so they also got that trophy.  And they all seemed to understand that they could get a trophy the next year by having a really cool car, etc.

 

The side effect of this, though, was that their parents were totally disinterested judges, since their own kids were ineligible for those categories.  Since most of them were brand new to the pack, they didn't really know anyone else.  So at some point, they were all brought over, given the list of categories, and decided on the awards.  

 

We were a lot less cut-throat about PWD than a lot of other packs I've heard about, but it seemed to work well for us.


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#16 blw2

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:04 AM

Your story really reminds of the time we had a boy "join" our den, just a week or two prior to the derby.  He had moved from out of town, came to like one meeting, maybe two.  I think mom had filled out the application, but had not paid dues yet.... seems like they were still in moving madness, dad wasn't even in town yet....something like that

so anyway, he enters a car in the derby.

based on the level of completion, and the look of it....and maybe something that was said.... I just had this gut feeling that the car was last years car....maybe even older brother's car.

so he won some award, most creative or some such thing.... took a trophy.

and then a week or two later they backed out and decided to not join, and never paid dues.

I've had a hard time letting that one go.

 

We got tired of the PWD drama. So we did this:

  • Everyone got their cars the same day.
  • We got a few "shop dads" to donate their gear and we set up a workshop.
  • All boys got a few hours to design their cars, then build, then paint. 
  • The "shop dads" would supervise and make sure hands weren't being cut off, etc.
  • Cars when done -- and the boys said when they were done -- they were inspected to make sure they worked and met specs. They were "impounded" for the race the next day.
  • Everyone shows up and watched their cars race. Winners won and losers lost, but the playing field was even.

 

I have often thought that this would be a great way to do it.

The only real down side that I can think of...and it's not much of one.... is that the pack wouldn't have a chance under the sun of placing in the district or council level races.

 

For us, I did more than I should have for son's derby cars.... but I do feel there was some benefit.  I dusted off my engineering degree, and even bought that video "physics and the pinewood derby"  really tried to use it as a teaching moment for science.  Son had a hand in everything, creating the design, making every cut, etc.. (even his little sister did a lot of it with him...), but I pushed him along more than i should have and did more of the work than I should have.  His last car was all him except I did a little work on the wheels and axles for him.  He really made too little effort on it, but he got the weight right, and with smooth running wheels he placed way higher than he should have for the effort, if memory serves went all the way to the council race.  I'd like to think the teaching paid off a little bit....


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#17 Col. Flagg

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:38 PM

The only real down side that I can think of...and it's not much of one.... is that the pack wouldn't have a chance under the sun of placing in the district or council level races.

 

Why worry?

 

Do the kids really care? Are these races even worth entering when you know Pack 0000 has all the parents doing their kids' cars?

 

We did races, awards, then a HUGE Blue Bell ice cream party. There wasn't a kid who gave a darn what place they came in when they had the chance to build an ice cream sundae four times the size of their car! :D

 

EDIT: Almost forgot. First, if you got a trophy for racing you could not be part of the "superlative awards" like best design, etc. Second, the non-trophy finishers got to put a pie in the CM's face.


Edited by Col. Flagg, 07 March 2017 - 01:40 PM.

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#18 fred johnson

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:28 PM

 

We got tired of the PWD drama. So we did this:

  • Everyone got their cars the same day.
  • We got a few "shop dads" to donate their gear and we set up a workshop.
  • All boys got a few hours to design their cars, then build, then paint. 
  • The "shop dads" would supervise and make sure hands weren't being cut off, etc.
  • Cars when done -- and the boys said when they were done -- they were inspected to make sure they worked and met specs. They were "impounded" for the race the next day.
  • Everyone shows up and watched their cars race. Winners won and losers lost, but the playing field was even.

 

 

I like the idea, but it would only work if the cars could not leave the build location.  Come to the location to get your car, build, paint, etc.  Then race it.  

 

Once a car goes home, it's a parent project.  


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#19 blw2

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:33 PM

oh, and no kits


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#20 Col. Flagg

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 04:35 PM

I like the idea, but it would only work if the cars could not leave the build location.  Come to the location to get your car, build, paint, etc.  Then race it.  

 

Once a car goes home, it's a parent project.  

 

 

oh, and no kits

 

Yup, that's what we did. Had to use the "stock" parts that came in the kit from BSA. No special wheels or axles. Weights WERE allowed to be added and we allowed parents to help BUT they used "stock" weights too.

 

All cars were inspected, weighed and locked down. The race was the next day due to paint drying. One dad got tired of waiting and built a paint deck that could dry 10 cars at a time. ;)

 

The way to neutralize the DIY parent was to 1) have them bring their tools (bragging rights) and 2) challenge them to think of ways ALL kids could benefit from any tech (car dryer).


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