Laurie Barone-Schaefer has lived in Sag Harbor for the past eight years. A professional photographer by trade, Ms. Barone-Schaefer has became a dedicated Cub Scout den mother—a job that she pours her heart into, she says. She discusses the importance of scouting and the upcoming Soap Box Derby, which will take place on Sunday, June 8.
By Mara Certic
How did you become involved in the Cub Scouts in Sag Harbor?
Well, I have three little boys. And the organization is just absolutely wonderful for our children to be involved in, and I feel very strongly about that. And because of that I inquired about having my children join, and there was no leader available for my middle son’s age group, so I pretty much stepped up and became a leader.
Why is it that you felt so strongly about your sons joining the Scouts?
I was a Girl Scout and my brother was a Boy Scout and this is something that I just wanted my boys to be exposed to. They learn so much about the outdoors. We go on nature hikes; we go on adventures. The bonding and the lifelong friendships that are formed through the different things that we do is so amazing to see. You see them grow right before your eyes. They all have this bond that is something you can’t force, it just happens naturally. I really think that being part of the organization is a huge part of that.
Last year’s Soap Box Derby was the first Sag Harbor had seen since the 1950s. Why did you bring it back?
Growing up, you have a lot of fond memories of your childhood, and things have changed so much even from when I was a child. All the community kids congregated outside and played and we wouldn’t go inside until the sun started to go down and it was dinnertime. And as a parent now you sit back and you see what’s going on and everything is cyber this, or cyber that. So I said, you know what? We need to get these kids back to basics. And we need to get them experiencing things outside; not driving virtual cars. We need them in those cars and experiencing it firsthand.
Who is participating in this year’s race?
Last year we had approximately 34 racers, and this year we have 42, so we have quite a substantial increase this year, which is absolutely wonderful. We’re very excited about that. Racers who did race last year are able to use their cars from last year. I know some of them are probably revamping them and giving them a fresh look, a new update. We have involved all the Scouts in Sag Harbor: Girl, Boy and Cub. We wanted to invite all the Scouts together into the event. There are two divisions this year, the Mustang division (the driver and car combined can weigh up to 150 pounds) and the Thunder Road division (for the older kids, 225 pounds combined weight).
Are there different rules for the two divisions?
This year, the Thunder Road division don’t need to use the kit part wheels; it gives them more of an opportunity to use their creativity and have a little more fun with things. They do have a safety requirement that they need to meet, of course.
What exactly is going to happen on June 8?
This year, we’re doing something a little different, we’re having our safety inspections and registrations down over by the Elementary School gym on Saturday, June 7, and we are going to be impounding the cars there. On Sunday, we’re starting with a parade down Main Street at 1 p.m. with the fire department, local vintage cars, trailers trailering the derby cars, and then we’ll make our way to High Street for the race. This year it is our honor to dedicate the race to Katy Stewart, whose brother is a member of Troop 455.
How has the local community responded to the Soap Box Derby?
There’s been an outpouring of support from the community, and we just want to thank all of them. The Scouts are being embraced by their community in such a loving way. This is what they’re going to take with them when they get older, and this is what being part of a community really means. It’s a beautiful thing to see.