The Pinewood Derby gives many young men their first taste of public recognition for personal achievement. It’s not just a race, however; as each Scout designs, builds, paints, and races their own car, there are dozens of opportunities for each contestant to distinguish themselves. Many former Scouts we know, despite having outgrown their little blue uniform decades past, still make room on their award shelf for those first boyhood pinewood derby trophies and awards. Consider this, from the BSA leadership training module on hosting a Pinewood Derby competition:
A key element of Cub Scouting is recognition of personal achievement rather than simple victory. We do this by providing a way of recognizing the achievement of each boy rather than simply celebrating the car that was fastest down the track.
You can recognize craftsmanship, paint jobs, funny cars (cars built to look like bedsteads or forest animals), stock car racers, Indy cars, or even give the Cub Scouts a ballot and have them pick a Cub’s choice. When you consider first-, second-, and third-place winners in each category, you can see that it is easy to spread recognition as wide as you wish it to be. There are no limits to your creativity in creating recognition for the Cub Scout.
Achievement is more that coming in first, second, or third. It is a matter of distinguishing yourself by way of personal effort and ambition, in any category.