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Greenville Cub Scouts hold pinewood derby

Cameron Croley (left) and Caleb Rhodes (right) prepare to face off during Saturday’s Cub Scouts pinewood derby.

Cameron Croley (left) and Caleb Rhodes (right) prepare to face off during Saturday’s Cub Scouts pinewood derby.

Joe De Le Ree, first-year den leader of the Tiger pack of Greenville Cub Scouts, had one of his most formative memories when he was still young enough to be a Cub Scout himself.

Though he wasn’t a member of the organization as a kid, he was close to some aspects of it.

“I lived in an apartment complex where I grew up in Phoenix, and the maintenance supervisor of that complex imitated the things that the Cub Scouts were doing, and we had a Pinewood Derby for our apartment,” De Le Ree said.  “I still have my car that I made when I was 10 or 11 years old.  And it’s just one of those memories that branded me from the time that it happened to today.”

This past Saturday, De Le Ree had an opportunity to recreate those days from his youth for 16 others.

First United Methodist Church, or at least parts of it, became a raceway for the Greenville Cub Scouts’ annual pinewood derby Saturday.

The Boy Scouts of America originated the time-honored racing tradition more than 60 years ago in which scouts build their own cars from wood with the help of their parents.

Cub Scouts of varying degrees of experience gathered to pit their creations against one another.

Deleree said that the race itself was only the culmination of a project that teaches a wealth of skills from the early planning stages onward.

“The Pinewood Derby started even before the event happened, when they started thinking, creating and crafting,” Deleree said. “And then it culminated as a race.

“There’s so many different aspects to the derby itself—the competition, the creativity, the sportsmanship—and that speaks to a larger part of what the Cub Scouts are trying to achieve.  And that’s to promote a well-rounded experience for age-appropriate, likeminded children.”

And though they all began from the same block of wood and set of instructions, not one finished car even remotely resembled another.  Inspirations were drawn from McDonalds, Star Wars, candy bars and everywhere in between, though speed was the top priority on the Cub Scouts’ minds.

“The Boy Scouts have developed a kit over the years that they sell nationally, and they provide that to us,” Deleree added. “It’s essentially a block of wood with slots cut into it that designate where the wheels are supposed to be located.  And they get four wheels and a little instruction booklet that says  ‘your pack will create the rules for your competition, but generally these are the types of rules that the scouts follow.’”

The kit includes four wheels and four nails that act as the car’s axles.

The instructions and materials were only a starting point on the winding road to pinewood derby gold.

The race was tailored for not only the swift, but also the creative.

Three of the four types of awards given out Saturday rewarded creativity in some measure, as a bulk of the scouts’ time went into the designing phase of each car.

Hours upon hours were spent drafting designs from side views and front views, though the actual races lasted less than five seconds.

And though the races themselves were brief, the lessons learned and memories made last a lifetime.

“And even in a small town, the boys come from a variety of backgrounds,” Deleree said.

“They get together, learn and achieve the same types of goals together.  And I can’t think of another type of group that does that outside the school system.”