I mentioned that yesterday was the Pinewood Derby for our Cub Scout pack. The Pinewood Derby was described to me, when my son started and I joined the Pack leadership, as "the Superbowl of Cub Scouts". That's a pretty accurate description of the level of competition - mostly from the dads - this is where hard work and skill pay off, and some get blinded by the shiny trophy in their quest for first place. We've never, in my four years, had someone overtly cheat - but there have been many instances where it was obvious that the scout had little do with the creation of his car.
There's not a lot we can do there. Obviously, where there are power tools involved it's prudent to have some adult involvement even in the older ranks - there's no rule saying that the scout must do the car on his own. The process by which a scout makes a Pinewood Derby car should be a learning one, where every year they put in more and more work themselves, so that by their final year or two they're doing all of the work except perhaps cutting out the shape. Some scouts do this - and it's evident - and others hand the box to their parent(s) for completion. Even if this is the case, if the scout and their adult partner work together, this is fine.
TheBoy was discouraged after last year. He put in the lion's share of work on his car, choosing the shape, tracing it onto the block, sanding it after cutting, painting, graphiting, etc. And he watched another boy win first place - and then proceeded to thank his machinist grandfather for making the car for him. That's the downside - not everyone agrees with the spirit of the rules, and some take advantage of the fact that there are no hard and fast rules about getting assistance from family members. It gets even worse going to the Regional races - the top two scouts in each pack (for each rank) meet for one series of races with the top two scouts from all the other packs in the particular district.
And TheBoy took second place yesterday, so we're going to Regionals next month...
He went his Tiger cub year - I don't know how it happened, but somehow the car that he and I made took first place in our pack's Pinewood derby. He even did very well at regionals - they give trophies to the top four finishers, and he came in fifth out of 44 scouts (I know this because the guys running the regional race borrowed our track and racing software, and my Committee Chair ran the computer for the event). It means I'll be on the hook to help out the regional race - but this time I'll have a reason for being there. TheBoy is excited - he's taken first and third place in years passed, so this completes the circuit for him - and understands that he's up against some stiff competition at regionals.
But we're going to do our best, and have fun - and that's what it's all about.
That is all.