Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pinewood Derby Cars Sold and Marketed to Busy People

The Pinewood Derby is an annual race that some Cub Scout Packs hold. The Scout is given an official Boy Scouts of America Pinewood Derby kit (retail about $3.50) which is basically a block of pine with 4 wheels and 4 nails/axels. The intention is that the Scout and his parent(s) make the car together. The intention is that the child designs the car and decorates it.

(Sometimes churches and other youth groups hold Pinewood Derby races. Here I am discussing Cub Scouting and Pinewood Derby races.)

I can’t believe this. My husband just found this site: this guy who calls himself Pinewood Rick will make a Pinewood Derby car for you if you pay him $60-$75. His website markets this to parents who are too busy to help their son make their own car.

Our Pack has a rule that the Scout must help make the car; as much work as possible is to be done by the Scout. So if a parent in our Pack buys a car from Pinewood Rick they will be in violation of the rules and would be disqualified (if the Pack knew that the Scout's family paid a stranger to make the car).

In America you can make money doing just about anything!

One of the best things about the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby is that the child gets to design their own car. If the father and son and/or mother and son work on the car together then it promotes a close relationship, which is one of the goals of Cub Scouting. What is important is that the boy creates their own car. They take pride in their creation even if the car doesn't win, even if it doesn't look 'perfect', even if the overall shape and design is not one that is thought to be 'best to win'.

I am so SICK of people being too busy to do things! Make your priorities and then do the things that you selected well and right. Don’t take shortcuts such as paying this guy to make the car for you.

The fun is in the making of the car, and in the racing. The fun is not necessarily in the winning of a trophy.

The Pinewood Derby Race is optional for Cub Scouts. Any family too busy to make a car can skip the race. Any family too busy on the day of the race can skip the race.

Often Packs will hold free workshops to help Cubs and families who may not own their own tools. In my five years of being active with Cub Scouting with my sons I have never seen a person in need helped by other parents or Den Leaders or Pack volunteers.

Any company who offers to create Pinewood Derby cars for children whose rules stipulate that the child must make the car should be ashamed of themselves. Especially with Cub Scouting, where rules stipulate the Scout must help make the car, paying a stranger who turns a profit to make cars is encouraging unethical behavior in my opinion. Cub Scouting is firmly rooted in values and morals so to promote something that breaks the rules of the races is so surprising to me.

What would be better is that a busy parent carve a little time out of their schedule to spend some time with their kid and make their own car. What would be good is for the child to have a say in designing it. What would be good is for a child to actually see what hard work it is to make something by hand and to learn to appreciate the effort put into the task.

What is not good is for a child to think that anything can be bought with money and that things can come without any work or effort on the child's part. What is not good is when a Scout knows they are to make the Pinewood Derby car and knows the other Scouts made their own car but this Scout has a superiority complex because he thinks that success (maybe winning a trophy) can be bought with money rather than through his own time and effort. Talk about a way to teach a child poor work ethics!

Any company running a business of that nature obviously doesn't care about the spirit of the Pinewood Derby Race, he just wants to profit from it. He wants to profit from the busy parents or the parents who are more interested in seeing their kid maybe win a trophy rather than seeing their child work on a project through to its completion. In Cub Scouting one motto is "Do Your Best".

The motto for parents who buy a car from Pinewood Rick is "Winning is More Important" and "My Child and I are too lazy to do the actual work, but I have money so I hope to buy my way into my child winning a trophy". That notion sickens me.

Update: Pinewood Rick sent me an email on 3/03/08 in which he stated that there are about a dozen companies selling this kind of service. Back in 2005 when I wrote this post I was reacting to reading Pinewood Rick's site. I was so stunned and disgusted back then.

1 comment:

Andrew Gleason said...

I loved reading this, even though it is 9 years old. Like you, I am disgusted that some will purchase a "ringer" instead of investing the time with their child. Me and my son have worked hard every year to build a little car a little better than last years car. This year a parent mysteriously transferred to our pack two weeks before the race and came in with 4 purchased cars! I couldn't believe that some one would stoop so low as to cheat the little kids who labor on their fair car.