How To Host a Pinewood Derby Event Safely This Year
Pinewood Derby is NOT Cancelled Because of COVID!
Alright, let’s keep it real here. A lot of things have been cancelled, pared down, and/or changed because COVID came and straight up took residence. BUT, I’m here as a bearer of GOOD news! Your Pinewood Derby season can totally still happen – make contactless racing a thing! It’s time to celebrate one of the most iconic Cub Scout activities.
There are a couple of ways to make your Pinewood Derby races happen without a hitch this year, and we will touch on both of them in-detail, so you can pick which way works the best for where you are located.
First and foremost, be sure to again, follow your local government’s rules and regulations, along with CDC guidelines. Those policies will help you in choosing how to run your event and allow you to stay safe AND have a really successful race day!
Host a Virtual Pinewood Derby Event
- Choose a virtual platform. Zoom works for pretty much everything and it has been amazing. You can host free meetings for up to 40 minutes, and chances are, someone in your Pack or Den has a paid account that can host if you need longer! You can also look at making this a Facebook Live event, which will give your Pack or Den the opportunity to share your footage with your Facebook community (and not to mention that you will be able to share the video at a later date!). Both of these platforms give people the chance to comment, chat with, and see other participants, which is obviously a huge part of the race day fun – be sure to encourage audience participation!
- Pick the race location with care. Be sure to have a set up that is brightly lit and where the camera has a great view of the racetrack. You’ll need a big space, so a garage or basement are good options if you’re in a location that gets cold or has inclement weather, but a park is a good option for locations with warmer temp – just be sure to check your internet connection. (If you are near Denver, there is also a possibility of arranging to stage and run your virtual event from our office).
- Have good gear. Use a computer with a newer camera (poll your Scouting families to find the best one!) and for best sound quality, use headphones with a built-in speaker so the host can move around and emcee it up from all areas of the track. To up the quality of experience even more for your Scouts, use multiple cameras – one on the finish line and one taking in the entire track.
- Set up strong logistics. Just like you have support with building, set up a strong procedure to help support the race day.
- Set a specific drop off date with specific times.
- Create a space for cars to be dropped off with no contact – place out boxes or trays for people to put their cars in and use gloves for all car handling.
- Next, and you can get as in-depth as you want here – if you want to host a mini check-in as a live event, you can set that up via whichever platform you prefer. If not, then you can simply have the host run through and do the weigh-ins and checks (again, use gloves for added protection when handling cars!).
These are just a few highlights to note while swapping your race day to virtual. For a full how-to on hosting a race, check out this article, or if you are looking for a full-blown checklist, check out this blog, and then adjust as-needed for these COVID times.
Host a Socially Distanced Race Event
Again, please be sure to stay in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, both with your local government and the CDC for safely hosting gatherings. If you are looking for guidance, check out this checklist (all you have to do is remember SAFE!) that you should definitely complete before you move toward an in-person event. This year, instead of pulling together the whole Pack for a Pinewood Derby event, your in-person races may look like one or two Dens getting together to keep the number of people down.
- Select your location carefully! Perhaps your local park has an area large enough to accommodate a race with lots of space to distance.
- Use cones or markers to set up family pods that are 6 feet apart – this will allow for stress-free watching! I also highly recommend bringing camp chairs to help everyone stay in their watch pods.
- Just like with all Pinewood Derby races, logistics are important! Decide ahead of time on how you are managing the drop off of cars:
- You can address this like the virtual event and have a drop off point for cars, and then one person can handle the cars while wearing gloves.
- The Cub Scouts could each handle their own cars so that nobody else touches them, taking their own race car through weigh in, placing their car on the racetrack, and then picking their car up when their race is over.
Here’s the thing. As lots of you know, it always takes tight logistics to run a smooth and successful Pinewood Derby race day. This year is no different – with just a few extra precautions added in, you can have the BEST race day!
What other ideas do you have around hosting Pinewood Derby races this year? Drop them in the comments below and participate in the national conversation by posting your Pinewood Derby pictures on social using the #VirtualPinewoodDerby hashtag!