Local pack’s virtual Pinewood Derby highlighted in Scouting Magazine


NORTH SMITHFIELD – Forty-five cars, 32 feet of track – and just one chance for glory.

That introductory line to Slatersville Pack 7’s Pinewood Derby set the scene for an exciting and entertaining race at a time when Scout troops across the country are looking for virus-conscious ways to adapt the traditional event.

The video, created with the help of segments submitted by members of the pack by “race commissioner,” Christopher Simpkins, was featured in Scouting Magazine this month with the hopes to give other troops ideas for ways to add excitement to their own events.

Simpkins said the 54-minute video took around 100 hours to create over the course of two months. It was filmed in advance using multiple camera angles, and spliced together with video segments of scouts and high-quality graphics.

But Simpkins didn’t stop there, ultimately creating a full competitive sports broadcast, complete with commentary.

A web developer who’s name may be familiar to many in town from his run for Town Council last November, Simpkins has been producing videos with his two sons as a hobby in recent months to stave off boredom through the pandemic.

It’s clear from his humorous posts on social media that the productions have been fun for the creative North Smithfield family. Prior to NRI NOW‘s Candidate Forum in October, Simpkins posted one video on Facebook of his “training,” for the event, with his son putting on the pressure, shouting questions about issues including plans for building a police station and solar policy while occasionally shaking him.

Simpkins ultimately did not secure a seat on the board, but said he enjoyed the experience of running, and his talks with voters.

For the derby, Simpkins asked Pack 7 families to submit videos and pictures, and used a 3D-printer to create a rotating photo booth to highlight each car. His 11-year-old son Zach built a stop-motion “medical tent” for accidents out of Legos, and Cubmaster Jason Berard helped out with humorous commentary.

Pack members also submitted jokes, along with videos where they discuss the process of building their cars and each derby entry’s features.

On the day he released the video on YouTube, Pack members watched the premiere of the race live, along with friends and family from across the country.

The complete production can be viewed below.

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