Watertown Cub Scouts Revved Up for the Pinewood Derby, Interest in Scouting Growing

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Charlie Breitrose

Watertown Cub Scouts crowded around the track to cheer on their cars during the 2019 Cub Scout Pinewood Derby at Hosmer Elementary School.

Watertown Cub Scouts crowded around the track to cheer on their cars during the 2019 Cub Scout Pinewood Derby at Hosmer Elementary School.

The anticipation built and young racing fans crowded the steel track set up in the Hosmer School cafeteria. Cheers erupted when the first wave of wooden cars sped down their lane in the Watertown Cub Scout Pack 30 Pinewood Derby on Tuesday night.

The Pinewood Derby was weeks in the making. Each of the 50+ Scouts crafted their cars from pieces of wood and plastic wheels attached with nails.

Miles Tambio, a Tiger (as the level for first graders is known), said his car is red with white stripes.

“I have been working on it for four weeks,” Tambio said.

His mother, Jennine, who is the Den Leader, said the Pinewood Derby is much anticipated.

“It is one of the biggest events of the year,” she said. “Everyone looks forward to it.”

While they have to meet certain requirements, including keeping the weight under 5 ounces, the Scouts also spent time customizing their cars.

Third-grader Henry Woodward modeled his car after his favorite video game system.

“It’s a Wii controller,” Woodward said. “I superglued Lego on for buttons.”

First-grader Caitlin Devlin and her twin brother, Shane, both entered this year’s Pinewood Derby. Shane, who is in his second year in Scouting, tried to make a fast car, but Caitlin said she was more interested in what her’s looked like.

“It’s a banana. I put a banana sticker on it and I am calling it the Banana Boat,” Devlin said. “Next year I will work more on speed.”

Scouts designed their Pinewood Derby cars for both speed and appearance.

The Scouts built their cars during their Cub Scout meetings, said Pack Committee Chair Emily Woodward. They also had some building events at the Watertown Free Public Library.

These were good opportunities to drum up interest in the Scouts.

“A lot of kids came by and saw what Cub Scouts is all about,” Woodward said.

Watertown Cub Scout Pack 30 has grown significantly in recent years, and not too long ago it had gone dormant.

“Pack 30 and Troop 30 have been around a long time, but it was not active for a while,” Woodward said.

In 2010, the Scouts began meeting again, led by parent John VanRyn. When that group aged out of Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts, the numbers dropped a bit at the Cub Scout level. There are currently three fifth graders in Cub Scouts, but in total, there are more than 50 Cub Scouts in Watertown.

“The Cub Scouts, kindergarten to fifth grade, have doubled in three years,” Woodward said.

Cars whiz down the track at the start of the Pinewood Derby. Watertown Cub Scout Pack 30 raced at Hosmer Elementary School.

Parents have done outreach in the Watertown Public Schools. Also, a few of the members are girls, who were first allowed to join Cub Scouts in 2018. Woodward has seen sisters or girls who have friends in the Cub Scouts join after seeing the activities in Scouting.

The racing at the Pinewood Derby was coordinated by Cub Master Taylor Boas. Before the heats began, he explained that cars would not race just once.

“Each car is going to run multiple times to make sure there is not a fast lane,” Boas said. “Three people will race three times to figure out which is fastest.”

The track has electric timing to get accurate results.

The fastest car in each den, or grade level, will move onto the District Pinewood Derby to be held on April 27 at the Watertown Mall, Boas said. There, Scouts from communities around the area will compete.

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