Klein Trails Grand Prix, our version of Pinewood Derby
The 4th annual Klein Trails Grand Prix wrapped up Saturday. As we handed out the certificates and metals and trophies, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all the girls who don’t get to do this.
Pinewood Derby is a Cub Scout tradition going back to 1953. Scouts made wooden cars with simple wheels and nails as axles. They race them down a track using gravity as force. If you want to read more about the history, you can find it here.
My son participated in this tradition during his Cub Scout years. There’s more to building these things than you think. The kids learn about gravity and friction and power tools and patience and teamwork (working with a parent can be a challenge when competition is on the line). Then we head to the event with the whole Pack of boys. Some units have a sibling race so the girls can play with cars, too. It’s nice to be included, but come on. We want to RACE.
My husband and I ran our Pack’s event. We decided to give the same opportunity to the girls. Our Girl Scout service unit did a powder puff version using the same rules as the Pinewood Derby and borrowing the track and software from the boys. It was a huge success with whole families coming out to watch the girls race.
I have an issue with the “powder puff” label. I’ve never liked it. To me it says, “We’re taking a traditional male activity and allowing the girls to play in our world but simplified.”
No. The girls are doing EXACTLY the same activity using the same tools with the same rules.
We can’t use the name Pinewood Derby because the Cub Scouts have it trademarked. We struggled for a couple years to come up with a good moniker. Meanwhile, we grew from a modest service unit to a large community: Klein Trails. Plus, the original pinewood car was designed after the Grand Prix versions. Voila!
Klein Trails Grand Prix!
We had approximately 160 girls from Daisies to Cadettes race their self-built cars at the 2017 event. The top four from each division received a customized metal and the privilege to compete in the Grand Champion Race at the end of the day. The top three finishers in the final competition received awesome trophies.
Each and every girl received a cool patch and a certificate for their car. Now before I get grief from the everyone-deserves-a-trophy naysayers, these girls MADE the wooden cars. They DO deserve recognition for their hard work. Plus, it’s included with the software so we can’t be the only ones who do this!
As an added bonus, we have so many families in and out of the race, we have an older Girl Scout troop run the concession stand. That troop must get the proper paperwork filled out and they must be saving money for something specific. This year it was a trip to Savannah. That troop is in charge of providing the menu items and collecting the fees. They get to keep all of the profits. It’s a nice way to provide snack and breakfast and lunch for those who want to contribute or don’t have time to eat before they come.
Our service project every year benefits Klein United Methodist Church who generously allows us to take over all of their buildings with gaggles of girls. Snack bags are an ongoing project placed in front of every main door where the congregation can have a nonperishable lunch in their car to hand out to anyone in need. Our girls supply and pack the contents: canned mini-sausages, crackers, fruit cup, bottle of water, spoon, napkin, and love. We also colored paper bags for lunches distributed to under-served children in the area and color-a-smile pages. It’s a perfect opportunity to get a lot of good done while the girls are waiting for Race Prep.
My husband and I love to provide this opportunity for the girls in our community. But we don’t do it alone, not nearly. We have a staff about ten volunteers and half a dozen older girls who make the whole thing run. This is a big event and it takes people with big hearts to make it happen.
My next post will detail the process if you want to see how it’s done and replicate it in your community. It’s worth it. Look at those faces!