Six easy steps to planning the ultimate Pinewood Derby

BSA file photo

The Pinewood Derby can seem like a maze of tasks that make up a million-piece, very complicated puzzle, but it is time to simplify things a bit and make this all about fun for everyone. These steps should guarantee that you throw a successful and well-run race day event, whether it’s your pack’s first time or 50th.

  1. Pick a Pinewood Derby task force team. This team will handle the list of to-dos and make sure that everything gets done on time. Depending on the size of your event, this can be anywhere from two to six people. If you can, grab a mix of veteran Derby-goers and newbies so that you can keep things fresh with new ideas and pull in best practices from past Pinewood Derbies. Also, it never hurts to name your team and assign a hashtag to them for social media sharing purposes.
  2. Make a list of the essential to-do’s that cover your event from start to finish. This is crucial to making this whole shindig run smoothly. Get the ideas out of your head and onto paper so that it is easy to see what needs to get done and where there may be gaps in planning. It also makes it easy to spread the workload evenly across your task force team.
  3. Assign those specific tasks and dates to your task force team members. After you have created your list of essentials, re-review everything and put names and deadlines next to each line item. Again, this makes it easy to check in with everyone. Be sure to share the essentials list with your Cubmaster as well, so they can add if need-be and to keep them in the know (if they are not at your planning party).
  4. Set a date to visit your local Scout Shop’s “Champ Camp.” This is an easy way to take the pressure off of the task force team because all you need to do is check the dates they are hosting Champ Camps and grab a couple that work for people. The Scout Shops will have experts on-hand to answer any and all questions about Pinewood Derbies and how to build cars. It also adds an extra bit of fun – think of it like a field trip. It can also be fun to plan a cookout for after your Scout Shop visit, so that you can talk about everything you learned at Champ Camp. If the Scout Shop does not do a Champ Camp or it’s too far away, identify someone who has woodworking tools and/or a shop that will host a building workshop for the pack.
  5. Assign a day-of Pinewood Derby team (a do team!) and make a run of show list. The do team will be in charge of running the races, making sure that the venue is set up with everything from the track to snacks and decorations, along with breakdown. Obviously, tasks can be divvied up between parents and Cub Scouts, but having a core team in charge of the day will make everything run more smoothly, so people know who to go to with questions.
  6. Have fun! Remember that this is a gathering of all of your friends. Things may get off track, but in the grand scheme of things, the main goal of the whole event is to have a great time and celebrate your pack and the amazing friendships that come from Scouting. Be sure to take lots of pictures to share on social media. Sharing exciting events like this can not only be fun to look back on, but they can also help with planning the next year and attract new families to Scouting.

The key to making things more fun and less “I might pull my hair out!” is to plan and write everything down. One of the tricks of the trade that I have found to be particularly effective is to have a couple little planning parties to hammer out all of the details. Get your task force team together, make it festive, and go over what you want the day to look and feel like.

Check out more tips, tricks, games and how-to videos here.

Happy planning!

About Kate Matthews 18 Articles
Kate Matthews is the main word wizard behind Scout Shop's "Living the Scout Life" blog. She loves the planet, discovering new places and sharing how we can all be Living the Scout Life.