Littlest Scouts race stick horses

First Posted: 3/18/2012

Scouts from Cub Scout Pack 232 dressed in full uniform spent hours at the annual Pinewood Derby on March 10 racing boats, frogs, cars and one race most other scout packs don’t have – stick horses.

The Lion Cubs, an experimental Scout group started within the pack about three years ago, galloped around the Gate of Heaven gym with their self-decorated horses at the event. However, that could have been the last time the horses make it out the gate.

Trish Ash, a Cub Scout committee member, said the National Boy Scout Council is considering disbanding the Lion Cubs.

The littlest Scouts don’t earn any badges, but the program gives the youngsters a chance to learn what being a Scout is all about.

“They learn the Scout principles, like respect and faith, and they have fun getting a little piece of the Scouts,” she said.

The stick horse race is a rarity, said Ash, because the group itself is rare. She isn’t aware of any other Lion Cubs locally, which makes the Scout pack even more special.

“It’s a cool thing that helps the kids continue on in the Scouts,” said Ash.

The tykes only raced for a few minutes on their horses on the weaving obstacle course, and they were trying to beat their own times, not each other.

“It’s a unique race, and it keeps them active,” said Lion Cub leader Elsie Ryan, of Dallas.

She said she got her 5-year-old son Joey involved because children can learn so much at such a young age, and she felt the organization would teach him about important subjects like community service and citizenship.

“At this age, they’re like sponges,” said Ryan.

Heather Vieczorek, of Noxen, got her son Joshua involved in the Lion Cubs because she had other children in Scouts, but the group has given Joshua an outlet for helping others and learning camaraderie.

“His brother was a Lion Cub last year,” she said. “It’s a good organization and it gives the kids something to do. It gives them a taste of Scouting.”

Vieczorek’s other son moved up to the status of Tiger Cub, and he spent the afternoon racing frogs.

The wooden frogs have a hole in their midsections and are threaded onto thick ropes. Scouts hold one end of the rope and whip it up and down to make the frog move toward the other end.

Boats require good lung capacity. The sailboats are placed into aisles filled with water and Scouts blow on the sails to make them move.

The race cars are for the Webelos Scouts. The cars are placed on a steep wooden racetrack and released, allowing racers to sit back and watch their cars fly.

The horses might be the most active part of the derby. Five-year-old Joshua Vieczorek laughed as he galloped along the short and un-dusty trail made for the Lion Cubs in the former school gym. He said he enjoyed being part of the Lion Cubs because he got to regularly see his friends.

“I made my horse have a rainbow,” he said, pointing to the stick part of his equine friend. “I like blue and red, and I drew a smile on him.”

His horse wasn’t the only one with a smile on its face.

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