As part of its effort to help address the labor shortage in our industry, the NWFA has developed several programs intended to spark a passion for wood with young people. One of those programs was recently launched in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
In October, the NWFA hosted a Woodwork Merit Badge Workshop for 32 St. Louis-area Boy Scouts, ages 12 through 18. During the workshop, Scouts learned about trees, the wood they produce, and how that wood is used in our society. Specifically, scouts learned about tree growth, tree anatomy, harvesting, milling, drying, species, tools, safety, and career opportunities available for working with wood. Each scout also designed and built a hinged wooden box on his own, using a variety of tools and developing a variety of woodworking skills.
In December, the NWFA hosted a Pinewood Derby Workshop for 12 St. Louis-area Cub Scouts, ages 7 through 10. The Pinewood Derby is an annual event that encourages Cub Scouts to design and build their own race cars using a simple block of wood. Pinewood Derby kits include a 7” x 1.75” x 1.25” block of pine, four plastic wheels, and four nail axles. Each car must meet specific design requirements for dimension and weight, and competitions typically include trophies for the fastest car, as well as a variety of design awards. During the workshop, NWFA staff and volunteers helped scouts cut, sand, paint, build, and weigh their Pinewood Derby cars.
Scouting officials from the BSA Greater St. Louis Area Council share that workshops such as these are rare because of the planning involved. They require specific – sometimes expensive and/or dangerous – tools to which many families do not have access, they need to be run by adults with specialized trades skills, and they take a lot of planning to execute. For these reasons, workshops such as these are extremely popular with both Scouts and their families. Both NWFA workshops had extensive waiting lists.
NWFA members can host workshops such as these in their local communities with the plans developed by NWFA. Each workshop meets complete BSA requirements for both the Pinewood Derby and for the Woodwork merit badge. Flyer templates are available to promote either workshop, lesson plans are available that outline the events, PowerPoints are available to utilize during each session, and a complete list of materials needed is available to help prepare for and set up each event. Any member who has an interest in conducting either workshop can contact the NWFA for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.