Paddle Fast! Your Cardboard Boat is Sinking
Paddle! Paddle! I yell at the kids in their cardboard boat. Paddle faster! Yet, their boat is slowly sinking under them, as the water seeps in the bottom, compromises the sides, and the duct tape fails at the seams. This is the annual Eastwood Lake Cardboard Boat Contest, and trophies – and bragging rights! – are on the line.
Cardboard Boat Contest
Started during a COID-19 Labor Day Sunday, when we couldn’t go anywhere, anyway, I copied an age-old tradition and started a Cardboard Boat Contest at the private Eastwood Lake. Each year, we have about 35 teams competing in multiple categories designed to inspire the kid in all of us:
- 12 and Under Speed Contest: The top three boats with at least one passenger 12 or under that can go from the beach, around the first pontoon dock, and back to the beach the fastest. Boats must begin, pass the dock, and end with all their crew members on the boat to be eligible for the speed awards.
- Open Far Dock Speed Contest: The top three boats with any age passengers that can go from the beach, around the far pontoon dock, and back to the beach the fastest. Boats must begin, pass the far dock, and end with all their crew members on the boat to be eligible for the Far Dock awards.
- Creativity Contest: The top three boats and crew with the most original, interesting, and lively theme, decor, and positive attitude, as decided by audience vote.
- Titanic Contest: The top boat and crew that have the most spectacular sinking as decided by audience vote. Dramatics are encouraged, but not fake drowning actions.
- Cruise Ship Contest: The boat that can hold the most number of people, of any age, and float with all passengers for at least 1 minute, regardless of distance covered.
- Team Spirit Contest: The team of at least two people that has the best combination of fun costumes and positive songs or chants, as decided by audience vote.
The competition for each category is fierce, with kids (and a few adults), piloting their creations with grit and determination to win one or many awards. The challenge is made all the harder with our simple yet effective rules.
Mainly, boats can only be constructed with cardboard and duct tape, and then, only 60% duct tape on the outside of the boat. No waterproof paint, no plastic, no styrofoam floats – just cardboard and tape against the unrelenting water.
Awesome Boat Entries
And yet we’ve had really compelling team and boat ideas – many of which were dashed against the reality of functioning to float children on our lake. We’ve had amazing team boats, creative coloring, massive floats, and many, many ideas sinking a quick death. Here are photos of 2021 contest, 2022 contest, and the 2023 contest.
Still the day is full of laughter. Children, adults, the young at heart in all of us see the joy of failure or success as a mark of excitement in the bonding that comes with building a boat – regardless if it can float. Next year, well be at it again, this time with a 50+ category for the more “mature” members of our community (like me!) to compete.