Knives for Scouts or knives vs. Scouts? In the battle between knives and Scouts the infamous record for my Troop is eight.
Stitches, that is.
Minor knife cuts are reasonably rare and I can recall only three trips to the emergency room because of a knife in twenty three years ( about 1000 days and nights camping) of being a Scoutmaster.
Knife safety is comprised of training in common sense augmented by careful attention. I have heard any number of old wives’s tales about sheath knives and official policies – here is the straight dope on the subject:
A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable back country tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and responsibility.
To my knowledge this language hasn’t changed in a good many years. Sheath knives (even large ones) are not prohibited, but we are cautioned to avoid large sheath knives. Good advice.
Scouts learn how to handle wood’s tools (knife saw and axe) by earning a Totin’ Chip card
From the reverse of the card –
This certification grants a Scout the right to carry and use woods tools. The Scout must show his Scout leader, or someone designated by his leader, that he understands his responsibility to do the following:
1. Read and understand woods tools use and safety rules from the Boy Scout Handbook.
2. Demonstrate proper handling, care, and use of the pocket knife, ax, and saw.
3. Use the knife, ax, and saw as tools, not playthings.
4. Respect all safety rules to protect others.
5. Respect property. Cut living and dead trees only with permission and with good reason.
6. Subscribe to the Outdoor Code.