Are you wondering what some of the biggest events in Cub Scouting are? Cub Scouts stay active year-round with regular pack and den meetings, but there are five huge events that almost all packs host. These events bring a lot of energy to the group, give every Cub something to look forward to, and showcase what Scouts do! 😀
What Are The Most Popular Cub Scout Events? The biggest Cub Scouting events are the Pinewood Derby, Raingutter Regatta, Bike Rodeo, Bottle Rockets, and Space Derby. Except for the Bike Rodeo, these events involve the Cubs creating an object — rocket, car, boat, spaceship — and competing!
PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Cub Scouting volunteer Jaci H and Cole 🙂
We used a short survey to gather input from Scouting families across the country about which event was their pack’s overall favorite. (Keep in mind that not all packs host all of the events mentioned!) Here’s the overview of what parents and kids said was their favorite event:
In this article, I’ll give you an overview of the five events, offer some planning tips and resources, and even share with you some pro tips to help get your community involved! There are a lot of resources available, so if you see something new I’d encourage you to give it a try. To kick this article off, let’s go through the events in alphabetical order.
The 5 Most Popular Cub Scout Pack Events
Cub Scout Bike Rodeo – Event Explained
A Bike Rodeo differs from the other events in this piece as it’s not a competition. However, it’s still an extremely popular and fun large-scale Cub Scout event! At a Bike Rodeo, the kids generally rotate (by dens) through various stations based around essential biking skills, led by bike safety experts.
One of the stations is all about bike maintenance. Cubs learn how to take care of and adjust their tires, chains, and bike seats. They also learn how to properly wear a helmet. We had a friend who was great at maintaining bikes, and he gladly volunteered to lead this station for our Cub Scout pack event!
Did you know? The Cycling badge is one of the optional Eagle-required merit badges that Scouts can choose to earn. If you have an older Scout or just want to think ahead, check out our Cycling Merit Badge guide!
Other stations include navigating obstacle courses, using hand signals, and even decorating a bike. In my pack, the Cubs followed a course outlined with cones with a lot of curves and turns, learned the proper gestures for making turns on their bikes, and added cool designs to their handlebars and wheel spokes!
We also had a station where the kids just practiced riding in a wide circle and then stopping and going the opposite way when the leader told them to. The purpose of this was just to get used to different movements. This station was especially useful to the youngest drivers!
Kansas City Pack 269 shared that one of its goals was to encourage the kids to ride their bikes more often. The more comfortable they are riding their bikes, the more likely they are to use them, which is a great way to exercise! This quick video (1:51) shows some highlights from their event.
I noticed that a lot of packs invite the community to their Bike Rodeos. I thought that was a terrific idea. More children learn bike safety and are encouraged to be more active — not to mention, it introduces them to the Scouting world. Having siblings participate is another great way to expand the event! 😀
Scouting Memory: The Bike Rodeo was my second favorite event when my son was younger. We used parking lots at the local community college and our kids’ elementary school for our Bike Rodeos. I remember one year when an adult stopped at our event to thank us for teaching bike safety. She was very passionate about its importance and it made us feel good!
Cub Scout Bottle Rockets – Event Explained
In this event, a combination of compressed air and water shoots bottle rockets into the sky! Typically, the Cub Scouts build the rockets using a 2-liter soda bottle decorated with paper, stickers, fins, paint, markers, and tape. Watch this Scout Life magazine video (5:29) about decorating awesome Cub bottle rockets:
As with the other competitions described in this article, Scouts get to launch their rockets multiple times — as long as they are not damaged beyond repair after landing. I think one thing that makes these events so fun is that the Cubs have a chance to race again and again, increasing their chances of winning!
Scouting Memory: The Bottle Rocket was hands-down my favorite event. Our pack would go to a huge grassy field next to a park. We had a work table with two canisters of air hooked up with two hand buttons for the two Scouts to launch at the same time. I loved watching the rockets go into the sky. Some of them didn’t make it very far, but others went so high. It was so much fun to watch them!
Cub Scout Pinewood Derby – Event Explained
In my survey, the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby was overwhelmingly the most popular event! More than 3 out of 4 respondents chose it as their favorite. (Not to take away this popularity, but my survey also uncovered that a lot of Cub Scout packs don’t do all five of these events.)
For the Pinewood Derby, the Cubs receive a kit to work on with an adult. Some of the steps require tools that can only be used by adults. I think the most successful derbies are the ones where the packs hold working sessions together! Kids can visit stations where they’ll get help with their vehicle, work on the design, and even decorate their car.
Helpful Link: Want to help your Cub Scout excel (and accelerate) in the Pinewood Derby? Check out our Science-backed Guide to a Pinewood Derby victory!
There is so much energy at a Pinewood Derby. You can witness it in this video (9:27) showing some of the workshop as well as the race. This pack even has a special loop for the top 32 cars to race again. That was very fascinating and unique! 😀
One leader, Seth N. from Fort Scott, KS, shared about his pack running a corporate Pinewood Derby fundraiser for the past two years! In 2023, the pack had Scout races in the afternoon, followed by awards, dinner ($15/meal), and then corporate races. Businesses could design and enter a car for $35!
Mr. N told us, “We had 25 entries and 20 showed up. Between entries, grudge races, and ‘audience choice’ donations, we raised around $1,350 and spent around $450 on trophies and cars. We even set up a pit area so that in between the main race and the ‘grudge’ races, people could work on their cars!”
What are grudge races? Mr. N. said that companies could challenge each other to a race for $5 a run. So the pack raised money from the meal tickets, corporate race entries, and the grudge races too. (He did mention that free cars were given to the police and fire departments to participate!)
Scouting Story: As far as judges for their Pinewood Derby, Mr. N. asked his chamber of commerce president as well as members of the city management and well-known community members. The second year he asked his chamber person, she refused…because she wanted to enter her own car!
After doing the fundraiser for two years, Mr. N. had the following key piece of advice that leaders should consider with any event: “I delegated nearly everything to my den leaders and parents: decorations, food, entry, etc. There would have been no way I could have pulled this off without them!”
Another unique derby idea came from a pack in Isanti, MN Cubmaster Anna C. shared a photo from their black light derby where the cars glow! She added, “We have a DJ who plays music and a comical Eagle Scout who is the emcee. I think the adults have as much fun as the kids!”
In a typical Pinewood Derby, cars race in multiple heats and the top prizes are given. In our old pack, each Scout received a unique certificate when they retrieved their car from racing, such as most colorful car, fastest-looking car, or best car with a driver! 😀
Cub Scout Raingutter Regatta – Event Explained
There are two ways Cub Scout packs can host a Raingutter Regatta. One way is to use a kit to build the trimaran sailboats. The other way is to have the kids make the boats out of recycled materials, which actually fulfills one part of the Tiger Elective Adventure: Floats and Boats!
Scout leader Patrick P. from Woodbridge, VA likes the pack’s recycled Raingutter Regatta best “because it is much less serious than the Pinewood Derby and gives the Scouts an opportunity to problem-solve and get creative with the random assortment of boat-making supplies.”
Scouting Experience: Leader Lisa A. from North Robinson, OH had her first exposure to this event at the district level and said her kids loved it. “I am planning on bringing this event to the pack level, hopefully this Scouting year. I would like to have the Scouts be thrifty and use recycled materials to make their boats!”
Parents Kara B. from Lafayette, GA and Steve W. from Canal Fulton, OH also love this event. Ms. B. said, “The kids are involved during the race and the entries are so varied and fun!” While Mr. W. said, “The (Raingutter Regatta) event is self-contained with no prep (like building derby cars), simple to score/track, goes quick, and can include entire families.”
The “gutters” I’ve seen for the races include inflatables and metal ones. You’ll see the inflatable one from a pack in Jefferson City, MO in this video (0:32). You also see the Scouts moving the boats with a small fan — pre-COVID, it was typical for them to simply blow on the sails or use a straw to do so.
Cub Scout Space Derby – Event Explained
(Update: It seems the Space Derby event was discontinued by the BSA, but another fun alternative could be launching model rockets in a big field!)
The Space Derby is another event that uses a kit. The Scouts put together and decorate the small balsa wood rockets, which operate with a propeller and rubber band. They are required to use sandpaper to shape their rockets and figure out the best balance point for their hangers. See how Pack 252 does it in this video (2:39):
Based on the answers from packs in my small survey, it seems that this event is not as common as others across the United States. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your pack wouldn’t love it! Get a sense of what your Scouts are interested in as you decide which events to hold.
Who Should You Invite To Cub Scout Pack Events?
These Cub Scout events are so much fun and generate a lot of great energy. Invite as many people as you want! This is the perfect time for siblings, grandparents, friends of Cubs who might be interested in joining, and other loved ones to come out, have fun, and support your Cub Scout. 😀
After learning about the Cub Scout pack’s corporate fundraiser in Kansas, I’d also recommend extending some invitations in your community, if possible! You might invite local leaders and even former Cub Scouts as attendees or judges. Whether you decide to turn your event into a fundraiser is up to you!
How To Plan Cub Scout Events
These Cub Scout events are a fair amount of work, so make sure you have a committee and divide the responsibilities! You don’t want one person feeling like they’re stuck doing all the work. Here are some roles you might consider offering to committee members:
- Event coordinator
- Food coordinator (if applicable)
- Logistics manager
- Race manager
- Track team
- An emcee to keep the event flowing!
How To Get Your Cub Scout Event in the Newspaper
If it’s for a positive thing, most people love to see themselves in the news. Kids especially love it! Write a simple press advisory for your event and send it to local newspaper(s), magazines, and radio stations. Local media often love to cover kid-centered events — especially ones that have visual interest!
Writing a press advisory might sound scary, but there could be someone in your pack who knows exactly how to do it — or is willing to give it a try. If you don’t know who to ask for help, send a quick message to your parents and find out who might be willing!
Helpful Link: You can also use this press media advisory template to notify your local newspaper about the event!
I bet your events are fantastic the way they are right now! However, I really hope this article gives you and your pack some inspiration for adding another event — or enhancing one you already run. You may have noticed there were a lot of neat ideas for the Pinewood Derby that could potentially transfer to any of the other events. 😀
I’m glad you came to ScoutSmarts to learn more about these fun Cub Scout events! I couldn’t believe the wealth of information here when I first discovered it. Then when I showed the site to my son, who is now working on his Eagle Project, he said, “Oh yeah, I know that site! It’s really cool.” Be sure to tell another Scout about us!
Thanks so much for dropping by, and for being an awesome part of the Cub Scouting community! If you enjoyed learning about these popular, fun, and exciting pack events, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of these related articles if they spark your interest:
- Fun Cub Scout Games: 11 Epic Indoor and Outdoor Pack Activities (Also by Jaci H!)
- Cub Scout Pack Structure 101: Every Leadership Role Explained
- Everything You Need To Know About Cub Scout Ranks And Advancement
- Cub Scout Annual Calendars: Monthly Ideas For Pack Activities
- Cub Scout Camp Packing: 37 Essentials For Cubs And Parents
That’s all for now! I hope these popular and fun Cub Scout event ideas help you create even more incredible memories with your pack. You could even poll the Cubs in your pack to see which event they’d want to try out next. With that last tip, I’m wishing you some amazing pack events ahead!