FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – For the first time, girls can race the boys in a Cub Scout right of passage.
The Pinewood Derby, organized by local Cub Scout packs across the country, is a race in which small wooden “cars” are pulled by gravity down a sloping track. The scouts design and build their cars from kits. And until now, this was strictly the domain of young boys. You can watch home video of a derby here.
“It seemed like a lot of fun when my brothers started doing it, and I decided it would be fun to do it too,” said Aubrey Godfrey, who has just joined a Cub Scout pack with her two brothers.
When we met her on a chilly day in February, Godfrey was making her car at “Cut Out Day,” a yearly gathering at Scout headquarters in Fort Wayne where children and their families can cut and assemble their cars.
Godfrey was one of several girls participating for the first time, but she was cautiously optimistic about her odds of winning the competition in March.
“I have a fifty-fifty chance,” she said. “I really don’t know.”
After Godfrey’s car was cut into a rough outline, it was sanded to perfection. A layer of dust was blown off to reveal the sharp edges of a race car. Next, Godfrey would add wheels and other components.
Phillip Ferguson, an adult leader with the program who was running the band saw on this day, says he’s thrilled that girls are welcome to join.
“I’m so excited about that, he said. “Look at the scout oath and scout law, what part of that doesn’t apply to girls? Trustworthy, loyal, helpful friendly, that applies to girls too. Let’s do it!,” Ferguson exclaimed.
The Cub Scout program is for children from kindergarten through fifth grade. Cubs Scouts graduate to become “WEBELOS” who quickly transition into what was previously known as the Boy Scout program.
That century-old organization recently dropped “boy” from its name and is now called “Scouts BSA.”
The move to accepts girls at all levels of the program was not without controversy. Some wondered how girls could appropriately integrate with the male-dominated organization.
Scout leaders say older girls in middle school and high school will join girl-only troops, but will have the same opportunities, challenges and competitions as the boys.
The new recruitment drive drew the ire of the Girl Scouts of the USA. As the New York Times reported, the organization’s president sent a letter to the leader of the Boy Scouts of America accusing the group of a “covert campaign to recruit girls.”
The letter was followed by a lawsuit, which is still ongoing.
For the scouts in Fort Wayne, the controversy seems far away. They’re just focused on winning the Pinewood Derby in March. And for girls like Aubrey in particular, they’re focused on having fun.
“My brothers got to enjoy it and I think I can enjoy it too.”
For more information about the Scout program, click here.
To visit the Girl Scouts of the USA, click here.