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Scouting is alive and racing at mall

February 14, 2009|By AlICIA NOTARIANNI

HALFWAY -- "Three ... two ... one ... Go!" was the chant that rang repeatedly Saturday throughout the center of Valley Mall.

Children held their breath, clenched their fists and bounced excitedly as pinewood vehicles raced to the finish line at Mason-Dixon Boy Scouts Derby Day.

Traditional lightweight cars were not the only mode of transportation competing. Rockets and boats got in on the racing action in a space derby and a rain gutter regatta.

Karen Horejs, Mason-Dixon Council vice president of Cub Scouting, said the purpose of the event was to give exposure to Scouting.

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"We want to show that Cub Scouting, and Scouting in general, is alive and well," she said. "As you can see, it's pretty active."

Uniformed Cub Scouts lined up alongside other boys and girls, all of them waiting their turn to race. Cub Scouts who participated received a derby patch.

"Our vision was to have a fun day with no competition, to let kids race cars, space rockets and boats," Horejs said. "We wanted it to be easygoing. Everybody wins here today."

Troop leaders and Boy Scouts -- ages 10 to 18 -- volunteered to run the activities for the younger Cub Scouts and the public.

Pack 103 Cubmaster Randy Russell led the rain gutter regatta. Russell said the interaction provided self-esteem and leadership skills for the older boys and role models for the younger ones.

"There is a great camaraderie," he said.

Twins Madden and Corinne Haupt, 6, of Sharpsburg, and their sister, Sophie, 3, chose cars to race in the pinewood derby.

"I chose ones that looked like they would go fast," Corinne said.

She then hurried to the end of the track for a prime view of the races. She won both of them.

Cub Scout Dylan Barkdoll, 10, of Williamsport, said he had done pinewood derbies before, but he never had seen a space derby. Unit Commissioner Bill Yoder helped Dylan wind a rubberband-propelled rocket before mounting it on a piece of fishing line. The line was strung between two wooden horses, about 5 feet off the ground and 35 feet long.

"You're gonna like it," Yoder promised Dylan.

Yoder released two rockets. Dylan watched wide-eyed as they zipped to the finish line.

"I won!" he yelled.

Nearby, Tiger Scout Ben Coldwell, 7, of Hagerstown, followed the progress of his rocket. Like Dylan, Ben said he had participated in a pinewood derby, but never had seen a space derby.

"It's cool," Ben said.

Ben's father, Mike Coldwell, said Scouting has broadened his son's horizons. Through Scouting, Ben has tried archery, camping, hiking, ice skating and other activities he might not have otherwise tried. Mike Coldwell said he hoped the mall derby would draw more people to Scouting.

"There are a lot of people here," Coldwell said. "Hopefully, we'll get a lot of new (Cub Scout) members."

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