Boy and Cub Scouts from 18 units of the Mo-Kan District of the Ozark Trails Council gathered at Meadowbrook Mall Saturday to compete in a pinewood derby tournament and demonstrate some of the skills they’ve learned.

Boy and Cub Scouts from 18 units of the Mo-Kan District of the Ozark Trails Council gathered at Meadowbrook Mall Saturday to compete in a pinewood derby tournament and demonstrate some of the skills they’ve learned.

The district, which has 630 scouts in 33 units spread over five counties — three in Kansas and two in Missouri — has held the annual gathering each year for nearly 30 years, said district executive Jared Alexander. The top three pinewood derby racers from each grade level get to pit their cars against each other for prizes.

“It’s a chance for the top Cub Scouts in the district to compete,” Alexander said.

This year’s theme was “Be Prepared,” and the scouts built things such as survival bracelets — lengths of rope woven together that are worn around the wrist and can be unraveled in an emergency — first-aid kits and sports team safety equipment. Trenton Jones, 11, a member of Cub Scout Pack 84 in Girard, said he enjoyed making his survival bracelet, which was being demonstrated by Troop 81 from St. Mary’s Colgan.

“If you’re out in the woods and you get trapped you can take the bracelet off and get it where you need it and pull yourself out,” Jones said.

Jones said he’s looking forward to making the jump to the Boy Scouts next year.

“It’s fun and you learn lots of stuff, and it all comes in handy,” Jones said. “I’m going to try to keep going until I get my Eagle Scout.”

The pinewood derby was the other big draw. Ten-year-old Avery Bass, of Pack 75 in Columbus, has won it the last two years. His father, Phillip, the pack’s Cubmaster, was a Cub Scout briefly as a child before the pack folded. Building and racing the derby cars is one way he said he connects with his children and the other scouts.

“There’s a little competition involved, but that’s part of it and the kids are good scouts,” Bass said.

The event, he continued, is enjoyable each year.

“It’s about the kids getting and having a good time and sharing some fellowship,” Bass said. “It’s a fun day of scouting. The kids like seeing what’s going on and they want to come back. Doing things as a group helps keep kids interested, and that’s important.”

Scouting gives kids who aren’t active athletically and their parents something else to do, Bass said.

“It’s something the kids can do that aren’t involved in sports,” he said. “We involve the handicapped kids, too. It’s all volunteer. We’ve got a good group of volunteers.”