Jackson Gorman has spent the last several years perfecting his wooden car design for Cub Scout Pack No. 534’s annual pinewood derby. His efforts paid off Jan. 28 when he brought home a trophy for posting the pack’s fastest time.
Approximately 84 Scouts participated in the event, working alongside their parents to build and paint their own miniature cars. The pack also hosted building workshops on Jan. 14 and 21 for Families who needed assistance with their projects.
“It felt great to win,” said Jackson, 10. “My dad and I worked on the car at home and put a lot of work into it, and we used the design we always do. I’ve done this for about five years, and it’s my first time winning first place in the whole pack.”
Pinewood derbies have been a nationwide Scouting tradition for decades, and the installation’s events date back to the late 1950s. The Girl Scouts have also started hosting their own races that immediately follow the Cubs’ races, so entire Families can share the experience.
“It’s good for the kids because they get to compete, and it also gets the parents more involved with what their kids are doing,” said Don Montjoy, scouting coordinator for Fort Campbell’s Boy Scouts of America units and committee chair for Cub Scout Pack No. 534. “Some of the parents who really got into this will hopefully get more involved with our activities in the future because they saw how much fun their kids were having.”
Army spouse Tamika Waddy, whose husband is currently deployed, said the event was her first time participating in a Scouting event with her children Kalib, 5, and Bryce, 7.
“He started doing Scouts with them as an activity they could bond over, and this has been my opportunity to get involved,” she said. “At first I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it’s turned into a really fun activity.”
Kalib and Bryce weren’t the only siblings competing in the race. Sophia and Julia Dehart, both 11-year-old members of Girl Scout Troop No. 175, also signed up and worked on their cars with their father, Staff Sgt. Kris Dehart, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
“At first I was trying to go for a unicorn theme and so I cut it like a cheese wedge, then I started decorating and painting it which was really fun,” said Sophia, who won the troop’s juniors’ race. “When we came into the race I was surprised that I needed to add some weight to my car, so I added some coins, a washer and a magnet to the bottom. I didn’t know the horn would do this, but my dad said the horn made the car faster.”
The Girl Scouts were well represented on race day, with members from the 10 troops across the installation coming together for the opportunity to compete and earn a badge.
“My car is designed for the Lunar New Year with Panda Express stickers,” said Gwynneth Keelty, 8, who is a member of Troop No. 2031 and won first place among the Brownies’ troops. “We sanded it down and then we drilled holes in the bottom so it could go really fast. I had a really good time with my dad and friends.”
Shelley Steffensmeier, service unit manager for the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, said the Girl Scouts decided to adopt pinewood derby racing into their program recently to encourage competition, growth and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts for all ages.
“I want to make sure they understand the science behind it and that they have a lot of fun,” she said. “We try to do at least one program like this a month for the entire service area so that we’re spending time together as a sisterhood rather than as small troops. It’s so important for the girls to see the bigger picture.”
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