Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hayden's first Pinewood Derby

I don't know much about the scouting program. My brother never did it. Dino only did a little when he was a kid. So now as a mother of a scout-aged boy, I find myself in a land of merit badges and oaths to memorize and other tasks foreign to me. It's been a crash course into a world I never knew. A world with more depth than I ever imagined. That being said, it's been a fun, bonding experience for Hayden and I. I am a somewhat organized person, and I love lists. The scout book definitely has a lot of lists to check off, so I dug right in and started working on his achievements with him when he started the program back in May. 
Then the Pinewood Derby rolled around and I immediately passed it off to Dino. I
 think it's definitely a father/son kinda thing. I had no grand hopes of Hayden having the fastest, most tricked out car, I just wanted it to be decent. Finishing in the middle of the pack was fine by me. It's our first year, I had modest hopes. My biggest fear was Hayden crying as his block of wood on wheels slowly limped down the coarse, dead last, while his friends smirked. Or that the other dad's would be such zealots that no matter what we did, it would never compare to the semi-professional masterpieces that they created. 
I wasn't sure how immersed Dino would get into the project as he's not the mecha
nically inclined type, didn't build them when he was a child, and he's had a lot of stress with work lately. But I have to say, he did a fabulous job!
The first step was to go to Uncle Hugh's hou
se and get all the tips and tricks of how to build a decent car. Hugh has 3 older boys and could show my guys the ropes. However, Hu
gh was more helpful than we could've imagined! He took the guys over to a friends home and used his workshop to carve the car's shape out of the block of wood. He dug the holes in the top for the weights to fit in, and gave a bunch of tips on building a car. I'm sure we could've gone there several times in order to glean all the secrets he knew, but one afternoon was enough to get them started. Besides, Hayden's got a few more years of this race to perfect his car. 
They spent a couple afternoons painting, sanding, adding weights,etc. Dino made stickers using labels and our printer. It turned out pretty darn cute for their first attempt. 
On the night of the Derby, the boys were so excited. A lot of families showed up to support them. The races were done in heats, leading up to the semi-finals and then finals. It was nice that every boy got a chance to race in multiple heats. And even though there was a range of styles and abilities, no car was far superior to the others. No over zealous dads either. It was a good competition. Hayden's car, the Mach 8, placed 2nd in two heats, 1st in two heats, and then 3rd in the finals. He was thrilled. 
At the end there were twinkie cars and certificates given to every boy. It was a fun first experience for dad & son. Hayden is already planning a new design for next year. Dino is reluctant to even think about working on another car. But secretly I think he enjoyed it more than he let on. And when next year rolls around, I bet he'll be back on board creating not just a spectacular car, but a great tradition with his son.

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