Don't Break Humpty!
By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes
In the annual Scouting egg-drop contest at Dodger Stadium, Cub Scouts test the laws of gravity by engineering the perfect device to help a raw egg survive a fall of more than six stories.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Area Council (LAAC), BSA, have at least two things in common.
First, they've got lots of children involved in fun activities. Thousands of young fans watch the Dodgers play baseball every season, and thousands of boys in the 650 LAAC packs and troops learn and have fun year-round in Scouting.
The Dodgers and the LA Area Council also share an exciting event every year, the Annual Los Angeles Dodgers Scouting Egg Drop contest.
More commonly known as "the Dodger Egg Drop," it is the team's way of acknowledging the high regard it has for Scouting.
For the last four years, the hazy days of summer baseball in Los Angeles have witnessed scores of Scouts, their families, friends, and leaders attending two Scout days at Dodger Stadium. And on one of those days, the egg rules.
The goal of the egg-drop contest is simple: "Don't break Humpty!"
Staff members of the Dodgers' Youth Department and the Los Angeles Area Council jointly plan the competition, to which Cub Scouts from 11 Southern California councils are invited to participate. For the contest, Cub Scout entrants pack a raw egg in whatever container they think will keep it from breaking when dropped from the outer Reserve level at Dodger Stadium, six and a half stories high, onto the ground below. Those boys whose eggs remain intact get to run onto center field during pre-game ceremonies later in the day.
Prizes in three categories
Nathan Thode, the Dodgers' youth programs coordinator, says creativity is strongly encouraged in the boys' entries. "The sky's the limit as far as their imaginations go," said Thode, recounting some past entries with a grin.
Along with the maximum size for an egg-holding apparatus14 by 14 inchesthe contest rules are spelled out in detail: Preparation, check-in, the "Egg Event," and the run-in for pre-game ceremonies all have their protocols.
Southern California Cub Scouts displayed their usual enthusiasm and creativity at last summer's egg-drop contest, held Aug. 13 prior to a Dodgers-New York Mets game.
Take Tommy Al-Marayati, 9, a first-time contestant. After thinking "real hard" about his proposed creation, the first-year Webelos Scout of Pack 803, La Mirada, Calif., spent eight hours at home designing a way to cushion his egg with peanuts, a "soft cover," and Bubble Wrap. He also included a "secret" tactic "that kept it from breaking the best"dipping the egg in vinegar before packing it.
Whether it was the Bubble Wrap or vinegar or both, Tommy's careful planning and execution paid off: He was one of 55 lucky Cub Scouts who ran onto center field two hours after his egg was dropped.
To encourage even more participation, the Dodgers awarded prizes in three categories of egg-holding devices: smallest, best Dodger spirit, and best design.
Advance publicity draws crowds
Patrick Martin, 9, a first-year Webelos Scout with Pack 660, Buena Park, Calif., won the prize for best Dodger spirit with his Dodger blue, Dodger-hatted, smiley-Dodger-guy box. The resourceful Cub Scout, who in 2005 made his second trip to center field, found his packing materials, bread and Cheetos, in his family's pantry and surrounded them with Styrofoam. Patrick and the other category winners met and received an autograph from one of several Dodger playersin Patrick's case, outfielder Jayson Werth.
To ensure uniformity in the dropping process, Carly Peterson, a Dodgers youth programs staff member, and Hannibol Sullivan, the Los Angeles Area Council's assistant director of field service, energetically tossed all 76 entries off the side of Dodger Stadium. Peterson said that the hardest part of her day was deciding which category a device should be entered under and then "deciding which contraption was going to win what" because "they all did a great job.
"We hope this event will grow bigger and better every year," Peterson added. "[A lot of our people] come out and watch it. It's talked about all season."
One reason the Dodger Egg Drop draws crowds: lots of advance publicity. Packs learn about the contest through mailings; leaders receive fliers at roundtables; others read about it in Scouters' News, a magazine that goes to volunteers and affiliates of the Los Angeles Area Council, and on the council's Web site.
New Cub Scouts recruited
The annual egg drop is a popular activity among current pack members and also helps to recruit new Cub Scouts.
In "May and June...we will tell [potential Cub Scouts] that we have the Dodger Egg Drop in August," said Urban Emphasis Division senior district executive Rita Burgueno. "And they say, 'Dodger Egg Dropwhat do we do?' This often brings [them into Cub Scouting]. We had 50 new kids [who joined] in May...That was really exciting."
PSA's in English and Spanish
Dodger Egg Drop day also provides an opportunity for packs to raise money: They keep $2 from every $6 ticket they sell. Scouts sold 2,300 tickets for the Aug. 13, 2005, game.
On that day, public service announcements (PSA's) about joining Cub Scouting, both in English (by former Dodger manager and current special advisor Tommy Lasorda) and in Spanish (by former Dodger infielder José Valentin), were broadcast during pre-game ceremonies. Valentin (who was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets last December) took a break from his pre-game workout to shake hands with the boys during their visit to center field.
Also, highlights from the previous year's Dodger Egg Drop contest were shown on the DodgerVision video board in left field.
Scout scenes also filled the big screen at Dodger Stadium, starting with the Boy Scout honor guard and flag brigade that joined the Egg Drop winners for pre-game ceremonies and continuing during the game with shots of various uniformed Scouts and Scouters in attendance.
Pride, relief for winning entrants
Assistant Webelos den leader Joe Glowacki of Pack 660, Cypress, Calif., brought five Cub Scouts, including his 9-year-old twins, Jimmy and Joey, to the Dodger Egg Drop.
"We all survived," said Glowacki with a mixture of pride and relief as the last of the five boys' eggs was verified as unbroken. "This is my first time at the event, and it's very well run. We are just having a lot of fun. All the boys seem to have a good time."
The LAAC's assistant director of field service, Hannibol Sullivan, who entertained the Dodger Egg Drop crowd of about 250 with one-liners from high atop his perch on the outer Reserve section wall, had to agree.
"The most memorable thing I've seen is the expression of the kids as they get to run out onto center field," said Sullivan, a veteran of three Dodger Egg Drops. "Their eyes light up, they are all smiles, and they kind of don't want to leave.
"They just want to stay out there all day."
Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting magazine. (For information on this year's Dodger Scout days and the Dodger Egg Drop contest, call 866-DODGERS or visit the Los Angeles Dodgers Web site at www.DODGERS.com.)
Copyright © 2006 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.