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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

Scouts turn out to do their best

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

When it comes to Scout shows, nobody has had more experience than the folks at Hawai'i's own Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

A popular attraction at the Makahiki Scout Show every year is the Pinewood Derby, a competition between 6-inch race cars, hand-built of wood, that hurtle down a 32-foot plywood track via the force of gravity. Each race is over in a matter of seconds.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"The Makahiki is the longest continuous Scout Show in the United States," said Aaron Kamau, director of camp and properties for Aloha Council, at the start of the 91st annual Makahiki Scout Show yesterday at the Blaisdell Center. "It began in 1911, a year after the Boy Scouts started in America."

An estimated 5,000 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, their parents and their friends showed up for the event, which kicked off a series of Makahiki shows in the Islands throughout April.

The Aloha Council serves 28,000 Scouts in an 8-million-square-mile swath from Hawai'i to Guam; American Samoa to Micronesia. The theme of the show was "Stand Up for Scouting."

The 135 booths included aim-and-fire attractions using catapults and double-barrel shooters made out of rubber bands.

There were also the traditional demonstrations of knot-tying, log-splitting and first aid.

"This is like the way we do our campsites," said Byron Chong, 13, of Palolo Troop 141, who said he could teach just about anyone all about setting up a tent.

Possibly the most popular activity at the show was the annual Pinewood Derby Championships, sponsored by the Aloha Council itself. The competition, which has been around for decades, is between 6-inch race cars, hand-built of wood, that hurtle down a 32-foot plywood track via the force of gravity.

"The races last from three to four seconds," said official starter, Adam Picon, 12, with Boy Scout Troop 32. "You just put the cars at the top of the track — and when they yell 'Go!' I just pull this lever and the cars take off.

"I made one myself back when I was a Cub."

Randy Moore, 42, helped operate the Bucking Bronco booth, which resembled a small boxing ring with lots of straw on the gym mats and a padded 55-gallon drum in the middle suspended by four ropes. The rider mounts the simulated "bronco" and attempts to hang on against long odds and the mighty force of four rope-yanking Scouts.

"No one stays on, but they all get a good ride" said Moore, who stepped down as Troop 180 scoutmaster recently because the Navy will transfer him off the island.

Stephen Garrett, 17, from Troop 126 of Kapolei, rode the Bucking Bronco better than most, lasting a good eight seconds before hitting the hay.

"I've never ridden a real bull," said Garrett, who was marking his seventh year at the Makahiki. "I wouldn't mind doing it for fun, but I wouldn't do it as a profession. This is probably it for me. I thought I'd be able to stay on. It was tougher than I thought it would be, though."

Moore introduced the Bucking Bronco ride to the show because he remember riding a similar "bronco" when he was a Scout in Bedford, Ore., and concluded it was literally a barrel of fun.

Moore, who's been around Scouting much of his life, says the action activities are what draws a crowd.

"The climbing wall, the rope bridge, this bucking bronco ride — these are the things that are most popular. There are lots of nice show-and-tell things here, too. But kids go for the action stuff."

Scouting started in Hawai'i in October 1910, eight months after it began in Mainland.

Troop 1 of Punahou was founded by Howard Hitchcock, an Island artist who had been introduced to Scouting during a trip to California.

Yesterday, Wayne Quon, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 1, presided over the jousting exhibition.

Each bout consisted of two combatants, both armed with a 4-foot pole with a boxing glove at both ends, who attempted to knock one another off a balance beam, a la Robin Hood.

"We do this every year," said Quon. "The Scouts really enjoy it."

Does he ever step up to balance beam himself?

Quon paused, then shook his head with a sheepish laugh.

"I don't want to get beat by the kids," he said.