Parents and children stood transfixed Saturday, eyes glued to a quartet of carefully sculpted miniature cars zipping along a slick metal track in the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Cloverly.
The roar of the crowd reached a tumultuous crescendo as the pint-sized roadsters swooped into the homestretch during the opening heat of the Cub Scouts’ 2012 White Oak District Pinewood Derby. All around the racetrack youngsters in blue and tan uniforms with matching neckerchiefs scampered as Scoutmasters tried to wring order from chaos as each lineup of cars was introduced.
District Coordinator Steve Bettinger surveyed the excitement with a smile, his eyes watching the bedlam before him: children having fun in a structured, family-friendly environment.
“This is all part of their character building,” he said with a sweeping gesture, noting the room of over 100 Scouts from 21 different packs. “It’s also a great opportunity for them to meet some fellow Scouts who they might not normally meet up with; It’s always been a great way to encourage friendships and bonds among the different packs each year.”
Nearby, a group of younger Tiger and Bear Cub Scouts sidled up to a pair of Webelos Scouts standing next to the row of tables featuring the event’s cars. Reaching over the “Do Not Touch” signs, the younger cubs pointed out their handiwork and traded good-natured jokes over how much help each received from their parents.
By the end of the first few heats, the day’s early winners began to peel themselves from the crowded seating trackside to review the displays with greater interest. Others stood in quiet vigil over the trophy table, eager to claim a reminder of their racing prowess to show their friends and siblings.
“The trick is, the way you want to make it when you’re carving it is so that it goes like this,” said 9-year-old Bear Cub Scout Thomas Jenkins, motioning the sleek, aerodynamic front end of his car after it placed first in one of the derby’s earlier races. “That way it goes faster, because they all have to weigh the same, but you can still make sure yours is faster.”
Vincent Tran, a 7-year-old Tiger Cub Scout, also won his heat heading into the derby’s finals.
“Well, my dad helped me make it,” he said. “So it wasn’t just me, but we took turns like, kind of carving it and making sure the wheels would turn fast ... It was a lot of fun to see it race.”