Mini Free-Range Outrage Involving a Kitchen Utensil

Hi ezhhfrastb
Folks — This just in from a town outside of Georgia. (That’s the American Georgia, for all our international readers!) A “Webelo Scout” is a youngster on the cusp between Cub and Boy Scout.

My son is Webelo scout and earned his whittling chit last year.  This year I volunteered at the district day camp and led the Bear den.  When it came time for the boys to earn their whittling chit, the instructor showed them all the proper ways to handle the knife and then — he handed them each a potato peeler! 

It was pathetic.  So all of the boys who were there earned the whittling chit without ever once touching a pocket knife.  I am so glad my son earned his the old fashioned way!  We are also lucky to belong to a pack that believes in Free-Range scouts!  If you can find a pack or troop like this, then scouting can be a great experience!

Agreed. And I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to whittle with a potato peeler. It’s like knitting with a fork. — Lenore


66 Responses to Mini Free-Range Outrage Involving a Kitchen Utensil

  1. Bradley Wogsland September 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Scouting is not like this everywhere. Here in Nebraska my 6 year old learned to fire a BB gun and bow & arrow last weekend.

  2. Jan September 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    I went to Camp in Colorado back in the early 1970s and brought my knife because I liked to whittle, and cut my left forefinger when the knife slipped off the stick I was carving, and I needed three stitches. No one made a big deal that I had brought a ‘weapon’ to camp and no one confiscated my pocket knife. The camp nurse or visiting doctor stitched up my finger and that was that. I learned from that experience to never put any fingers in front of my work in the path that the knife might take. End of story.

  3. Dayna September 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    I’ve cut the hell out of my finger with a potato peeler, so how is it any ‘safer’ than a pocket knife? Anyways, Scouting seems like the place were kids should be learning how to handle pocket knives.

  4. Lola September 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    Jan- That´s my in-law´s saying: “Have no fear; we have plenty hospitals!” (It sounds better in Spanish, though).

  5. Heather K September 22, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    I witnessed a mom come screaming out of her house the other day for her tween son to “GIVE ME THE SCISSORS!!!” He was trying to whittle a stick with them. First, considering the age of the boy, it seemed like an overreaction that he couldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors (he was taller than me!). Second, she was screaming at him like a crazy person in front of his friend and us other neighbors outside. Third, if he had ever been allowed to have a knife and actually taught to whittle, she wouldn’t have had to worry about him at all!

  6. Chris September 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    You only need to misuse a knife once to learn how to use it for a life time. Kids are smart enough to figure out how it works. There are some things in life where you just have to experience it to really get it. This “safety” society we live in is ridiculous, people are afraid to do the safe stuff.

    Gever Tulley did a TED talk about letting your kids play with knives and fire. The he mention that there are photos of Eskimo babies using knives to help clean fish. Check it out…

  7. Bernadette September 22, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    I’d like to see the merit badge for the potato peeler/carving. And were they carving potatoes?

    We stumbled upon the State surplus store here in Texas where all the confiscated items go for retail sale back to the public. Boxes and boxes of pocket knives!!! My kids are well supplied for the rest of a lifetime.

    And what my dad always used to say was, “It’s the dull knife that’ll end up cutting you.”

  8. lskenazy September 22, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    so sad.  Lenore Skenazy Columnist, founder of 212 600 4123 646 734 8426 (cell) Busy twittering at FreeRangeKids

    Author of, “FREE RANGE KIDS: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry.” BUY IT NOW! Also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”WHO’S THE BLONDE THAT MARRIED WHAT’S-HIS-NAME?” PRE-ORDER IT NOW, TOO! SEND MY KIDS TO COLLEGE!

  9. lskenazy September 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    a goldmine! and funny they sell them back to the public. i guess the shoe bombs, too?  Lenore Skenazy Columnist, founder of 212 600 4123 646 734 8426 (cell) Busy twittering at FreeRangeKids

    Author of, “FREE RANGE KIDS: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry.” BUY IT NOW! Also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”WHO’S THE BLONDE THAT MARRIED WHAT’S-HIS-NAME?” PRE-ORDER IT NOW, TOO! SEND MY KIDS TO COLLEGE!

  10. jim September 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    I recall a high school teacher who needed to cut something asking the class “Does anyone have a knife?” and the next sound was “Click, click, click” as every boy and several of the girls pulled out razor-sharp four-inch folding Buck knives. And we never had a school stabbing. Bottom line – you can not teach a kid to make healthy, nutritious food without teaching the kid how to safely use a knife. It’s a tool, not a weapon.

  11. Uly September 22, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    You only need to misuse a knife once to learn how to use it for a life time.

    I don’t know, I have always had fine motor issues, and it took me years to learn how to use a knife reasonably safely (and I still have to chop slower than most people with a higher risk of cutting myself – we call cutting our fingers “the secret ingredient” around here!).

    But what am I to do, never cook? My parents could’ve gone the route of never letting me handle a knife (indeed, they had to cut my food for me until a relatively advanced age, even though I did use a knife (poorly) outside of the dinner table), but then how much more difficult would it be today?

    So it did take me well more than once to learn to use a knife properly (more or less…), but there was nothing for it. I had to keep slicing my fingers until it stuck.

  12. Michael September 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    I’m happy to report that my son’s pack has yearly whittling chit classes and all cub scouts of all ages are encouraged to attend. In fact, the first one of the year is this weekend at our first camping trip. Not sure that my tiger cub can EARN it, but he will attend the class.

  13. Anna September 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    Nothing is more dangerous than a dull cutting tool! Dull blades require more pressure to cut, they slip easily, they cut flesh less cleanly. Cuts from dull blades heal with more difficulty. Ask any surgeon or ER staff person.

    That’s why I have everything with a blade regularly sharpened professionally. There’s a blade sharpening guy outside two of our locally owned small markets on certain days each week, so it’s easy to grab a drawer full of blades, wrap them in some newspaper, and drop them off to be sharpened on the way in to do my shopping. I keep a note with my grocery list to remind me about the knife sharpening.

    I mark which set of blades were sharpened on my calendar so throughout the year they all make the trip at least once or twice; well-used blades go more often, perhaps 3-4 times. In between the pro jobs, I use a sharpener at home, too. I try to buy good quality but not top-of-the-line knives and regular professional sharpening keeps them in good shape for a long time, even when they are accidently run through the dishwasher, knocked around carelessly, or otherwise mishandled.

    My almost 11 yo has been cutting his own vegetable and fruit snacks for 2-3 years and no mishaps. He has a pocket knife, too. We have the same school rules as everyone else so the pocketknife rarely leaves our property, but it gets plenty of use in the back yard, on camping trips, etc.

  14. Kari September 22, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    OK, that’s ridiculous. I have cut myself far more on a potato peeler than with a knife. Maybe I am more careful with a knife, don’t know. But I would rather my son use a pocket knife over a potato peeler.

  15. Annika September 22, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    I have cut myself once ever with a knife (and I’ve worked in kitchens, not to mention cooking for myself and my family, though I have never whittled); potato peelers, on the other hand, are really dangerous! A cut from one of those is so much worse than a cut from a knife. (And for the record, I’d let my son use either–for their correct purposes.)

  16. KateNonymous September 22, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    I’ve cut myself with both knives and potato peelers. Guess which one left a scar that is still visible more than 20 years later.

    You know, when I was in fourth grade we had a linoleum block section of our art class. They let us use actual linoleum knives. No matter how much I tried to keep my stabilizing hand behind the knife, it always wound up in front, where I would slip and cut myself. Each time I did, there was no more linoleum carving for me.

    No more that day. Not for all time. Sheesh.

  17. Rachelh September 23, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    It’s funny. At my son’s school (a private Waldorf school), the kids starting cutting up the fruit and vegetables for their snack time in Kindergarten. With real knives. We’ve only had a few parents worry, and even fewer kids have been cut. My son is now in 2nd, and he has his very own chef’s knife at home. He cut himself once (with a steak knife actually), and hasn’t since. Kids are only as competent as we let them be.

    Oh, and BTW, there is actually a type of knitting called fork knitting, which my son also did in kindy – go figure!

  18. Heather September 23, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    When my hubby was a little boy he used to get in trouble if he did not have his knife on him when his dad asked for it. As a farm kid he needed it every couple days and if he did not have it would need to run to the house to get it before doing what otherwise would have taken 30 seconds. And I mean when he was 7 & 8!

    And here is the shocker. He still has all his fingers, no one died in the process, and no harm was ever done (except him having a mini swiss army knife taken from him by security beofre at a basketball game a couple years ago, like he was going to knife someone with a blade just bug enough to clean fingernails!)

  19. lskenazy September 23, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    who knew? thanks!!  Lenore Skenazy Columnist, founder of 212 600 4123 646 734 8426 (cell) Busy twittering at FreeRangeKids

    Author of, “FREE RANGE KIDS: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry.” BUY IT NOW! Also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”WHO’S THE BLONDE THAT MARRIED WHAT’S-HIS-NAME?” PRE-ORDER IT NOW, TOO! SEND MY KIDS TO COLLEGE!

  20. Lene September 23, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Does this mean that If I practice on Grand Theft Auto I can get a driver license?

  21. dar205 September 23, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    I’ve given my children pocket knives, well the two older ones anyway, the younger two haven’t asked.

  22. De in D.C. September 23, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    My son is also a Weblo scout, but had earned his whittlin’ chit back as a Wolf (ie, 1st grade). Our pack lets the parents decide if their son can handle a knife and learn knife skills responsibly at our semi-annual campouts. They also provide a bar of soap to each boy to practice on before moving on to sticks. The boys are told to make a soap boat, then we have boat races – pretty cool actually. We have had a couple cuts over the years, but nothing that required stitches or a hospital visit.

    I don’t think our Day Camp did anything at all with knives or knife safety. They did get BB’s and Archery though.

  23. Joe September 23, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    When I was a scout we had to prove to out den leader that we could safely handle a pocket knife. When we did (usually somewhere between 8 and 10 years old) we were given an official Boy Scout pocket knife and a card that stated the safty rules and was signed by the den leader. If any scout leader saw you using your knife in an unsafe manner he would take your card and round off a corner. If all fouyr corners were rounded, he gave your knife back to your den leader. That is sensible – a potato pealer is not. And stuff like this is why my son is not in scouts.

    My son is 6 years old has his own pocket knife, BB gun and bow. Use the table-saw (with my help), can run an electirc drill, use hand-saws, hammer nails, etc. In short, I am not training him to be utterly useless.

  24. Jacquelyn September 23, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Ha! The worst cut my daughter has had was with a potato peeler. There is no learning knife safety and proper knife use without a real knife. These kids are being harmed more by adults saying, ‘ you can’t you can’t you can’t’ and not giving them any real experience (taking away both skills opportunities and self-confidence) than actually giving them a knife could harm them.

  25. Jennifer September 23, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    We have a wonderful building workshop place near us called Leonardo’s Basement that gives kids free rein to use all sorts of tools to create whatever projects they want. They teach kids as young as four to use hand tools, including sharp objects like saws, and power tools (starting with drills at age 4 and progressing from that). There’s adult supervision and instruction, but the kids do the work themselves and are encouraged to experiment. My kids love it, and it gives them a real sense of competence.

  26. Jennifer September 23, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    To add to my comment about Leonardo’s basement, it only took my five year old one slip with a hot glue gun before he learned to use one VERY CAREFULLY.

  27. ashle September 23, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    i was making pies with girl scouts and so many girls cut there hands peel apple with potato peeler. our hands also turned orange too were not sure why though but it was funny.

  28. somekindofmuffin September 23, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    Actually I’ve knitted with a fork, it’s not that bad.

  29. Stassja September 23, 2009 at 1:19 am #

    I am way more frightened of cutting myself when I use a potato peeler than a knife!

  30. lskenazy September 23, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    my sons are in scouts and they get to use knives. i think it depends o the troop. L  Lenore Skenazy Columnist, founder of 212 600 4123 646 734 8426 (cell) Busy twittering at FreeRangeKids

    Author of, “FREE RANGE KIDS: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry.” BUY IT NOW! Also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”WHO’S THE BLONDE THAT MARRIED WHAT’S-HIS-NAME?” PRE-ORDER IT NOW, TOO! SEND MY KIDS TO COLLEGE!

  31. Danielle September 23, 2009 at 1:33 am #

    Ridiculous! My daughter and I peeled and cut apples the other day for homemade applesauce using of course kitchen knives. She’s nine. I cut my finger, she didn’t.

  32. Olivia September 23, 2009 at 1:45 am #

    When I was younger I would spend my summers at a girl scout camp. For the most part a really great experience, but I was always frustrated by two things. We were supposed to bring pocketknives to learn knife safety, but outside of the (very few!) knife safety sessions we had to leave our knives locked up with the counselors. I learned to use a knife safely from my Dad, who was a boy scout as a kid and let me use his knife on camping trips from a really young age. And as others have said here, he told me the most dangerous knife is a dull one.

    The other thing that really bothered me was that we were shown how to start campfires but never allowed to actually do it. Again, I learned to start a campfire from my dad on our camping trips. I never knew if that was a girl scout thing or just the camp I went to, but I’m so sad to hear that boy scouts are being treated the same way now.

  33. Bill September 23, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    Olivia said: “The other thing that really bothered me was that we were shown how to start campfires but never allowed to actually do it. Again, I learned to start a campfire from my dad on our camping trips. I never knew if that was a girl scout thing or just the camp I went to.”

    I’m reminded of a young woman who was Venturing President in our Boy Scout Council (Venturing is a coed program for youth 14 through 20), who, when asked why she moved to Venturing from Girl Scouts, said “I wanted to do things, and all we did in Girl Scouts was sit in a circle and get in touch with our feelings.”

    The pre-teen and teen years should be a time of exploration and learning…not a time to be wrapped in cotton wool.

  34. Jennifer September 23, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    If the “Where is it?” question is about Leonardo’s Basement, it’s in Minneapolis, MN. Be sure to watch the video of kids creating things.

  35. Dave September 23, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    Aren’t potato peelers dangerous as well? Just asking, can’t be too safe.

  36. Jeff C September 23, 2009 at 2:25 am #

    In my Cub Scout pack, the boys earn the Whittling Chip as Bears. Usually, this is the first time they have picked up a pocketknife, so the first thing they whittle is a bar of soap. It makes for easy teaching. Part of the program is safety and sharpening. After the soap we give them a piece of balsa wood.

    The next thing they whittle is usually a marshmallow stick or a walking stick. No potator peelers here.

    If anyone is interested, our policy is posted on our website. Feel free to copy it.

  37. Random September 23, 2009 at 3:09 am #

    Sometimes I can’t help but snicker and want to show these entries to my mother. She has always been outrageously over protective of me, but has mellowed in her old age (shes 55, not truly old but I do like to give her crap on occasion).

    When I was 23 my husband and I moved out of state, we had rented our new apartment via phone and fax so we had not seen it. We discovered that we now had a dishwasher! Oh the excitement! The glee!

    How does one use it?

    Seriously. My mother NEVER allowed me to do dishes or use her precious dishwasher- back in the olden days apartments didn’t come with them you see and if you were lucky you bought one and rolled it around then attached the hose dealy boppers to your faucet- because she thought I would hurt myself on cutlery with ninja powers… ok so she thought I might stab myself with a knife hiding in the murky depths of the dishpan. She never let me peel potatoes for fear of injury either.

    My grandparents on the other hand made my cousins teach me how to use a rifle, how to gut and clean fish for cooking, how to hunt with a bow and arrow. My mother did not learn of these horrors until I was 700 miles away and closer to age 30.

  38. Paul Turnbull September 23, 2009 at 3:19 am #

    I am reminded of the time one of my six-year olds walked by with a steak knife saying she was going to cut some cardboard. As I pondered whether I should intervene or not she walked by again and said she was going to get a band-aid.

  39. Kate September 23, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    My mother teaches Home Economics (although it is no longer called that). She isn’t allowed to have large or sharp knives for the kids to use (they have old serrated steak knives). This makes it difficult for them to cut things and the amount of force it requires scares them since their fingers are so close to the blade. The last time I was helping in her class I found myself giving a lecture to a group of scared kids who didn’t want to cut anything and were saying how they were afraid of sharp knives about how much easier and safer it is to cut things with a sharp knife. It really hit home to them when I explained how if I had my knife I wouldn’t have to be holding the herbs while I sawed my way through them with a dull blade, the blade would do all the work and my fingers wouldn’t be anywhere near the sharp edge.

    The thing that really gets me about this policy is that if you’re worried about knives as weapons than a steak knife is a bigger potential problem; can you imagine someone trying to walk swipe a cleaver?

  40. Dragonwolf September 23, 2009 at 4:11 am #

    @Paul Turnbull — That’s awesome, not that she cut herself, but that she was calm about it and knew to get a band-aid. What did she do after patching herself up?

  41. Tobias September 23, 2009 at 4:13 am #

    What the heck kind of scout isn’t expected to carry a pocket knife at all times (especially when at camp)? I ran a youth organisation similar to a co-ed scouts in my late teens and ALL members (ages 8+) were expected to own and be able to (properly) use a pocket knife. The basics were covered during the introductory camp, along with wilderness survival, marksmanship (with real ammunition), fire safety, basic first aid and CPR, rappelling, and rock climbing. If a member couldn’t handle following the rules then their privileges for that activity were removed. It’s really not that difficult.

  42. Paul Turnbull September 23, 2009 at 4:27 am #

    @Dragonwolf Afterwards I believe I helped cut the rest of the box she was working on. 🙂

    We’ve also taught them the rule: “Always cut away from yourself and towards your family and friends.”

  43. Bob Davis September 23, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    It’s hard to see now, but I still have a scar from a hacksaw I was using at age 10 or thereabouts. I use hacksaws very carefully now. On the other hand, just a few days ago I was using the handiest but not the most suitable knife for cutting drip-irrigation tubing. Bad idea! My finger has healed, but our bathroom looked like something out of a CSI episode until I got the finger bandaged and wiped up the blood. It proved the point: the sharper the knife is, the easier and safer the job is. Another thing to mention: it doesn’t take much blood to make a nasty mess (sending many people into a screaming panic), and with adults you can lose a pint and not be seriously affected.

  44. Jamie September 23, 2009 at 4:42 am #

    Hi…bored at work and just landed here…I have nothing constructive to say accept, I heart this website.

  45. sonya September 23, 2009 at 4:43 am #

    I learned to whittle as a kid by sharpening pencils with a kitchen knife (yes I lived in a country where you couldn’t just buy pencil sharpeners in the store). I haven’t yet taught my kids that one, but maybe it’s time they learned since they always lose the pencil sharpener.

  46. Jenne Heise September 23, 2009 at 5:01 am #

    I’ve run after the kid saying “GIVE ME THE SCISSORS” when she was trying to sharpen a pencil with them… but that *wasn’t* because I was afraid she would cut herself on them.

  47. BMS September 23, 2009 at 5:18 am #

    My problem with my kids whittling is getting them to stop leaving piles of shavings all over the back porch. My problem with them using the glue gun is they glue things to tables.

    But those are slob issues, not safety issues.

  48. Sky September 23, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    I’ve never cut myself with a knife, but I have peeled my skin with a potatoe peeler by accident….ouch!

  49. Sky September 23, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    Ooops. Just doing the Quayle spelling there.

  50. highlyirritable September 23, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    When I was 7 or 8 years old, my grandmother (after getting sick of doing it countless times for 10 grandchildren) taught us how to sharpen our pencil crayons with paring knives.

    She then left a sharp knife amidst a gaggle of bickering cousins for the afternoon.


  51. Jazy September 23, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    Heather K. maybe the tween got a hold of mum’s fabric scissors ( my kids are too scared to look at my fabric scissors while holding paper).
    Also I sut the beejesus out of my finger with my rotary cutter once, needed 4 stitches and does it stop me from using it, or letting my kids use it (under my supervision of course!) nope, still rotary cutting away! And added bonus, the kids learned from my example and are extra careful!
    I like showing my kids what not to do! I got pregnant (it was an accident I swear!!) when my 14y old said she wanted a baby of her own! LoL

  52. Sierra September 23, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    My stepson has carried a pocket knife since he was about 9. I didn’t even realize this was a contentious thing to let a kid do, outside of school. I mean, he brought his to school because he was taking nature study and woodworking classes every day, but I know most schools don’t allow that sort of thing.

  53. Jen Connelly September 23, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    That’s nuts. I don’t even use my potato peeler for peeling potatoes. I always use a paring knife. The only thing I use my peeler for is carrots and I also end up knicking my fingers with it (not fun).

    I’ve learned some lessons about knives through my life. Like always check the sharpness before using. I worked in the seafood dept. at Wal-mart and was used to the knives. After my 2 days off I went to filet a fish for a customer and one of the guys had sharpened the knife without telling me. It went right through the fist and into my hand on the other side like it was butter (normally they were sharp but this was like surgical knife sharp). Also found out at that time that there were no bandages in any of the first aid kits in the whole grocery side of the store. I had to go get my on band-aids from the pharmacy, lol.

    I learned my lesson and always checked to see if the guys had sharpened the knives before I cut anything.

    Big lesson I learned as a teen…use power tools correctly. I was on stage crew for the musical my senior year and a couple of kids were out on the dock cutting plywood or something with a circular saw. The girl was standing on the wood, the guy was cutting. It ended with the guy’s older brother and their friends rushing him to the ER to reattach his fingers. He came back a few hours later hopped up pain killers and banned from using the saws. The rest of us…were welcome to use them in the correct fashion (and we were all given lessons on proper use before being allowed to touch the saws and you had to be certified by the teacher to even get near the band saw).

  54. ebohlman September 23, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Kate, Bob and others: The sharpness issue is a perfect example of emotional reasoning misleading people: A sharp knife is scarier than a dull knife, but it’s also safer. Just like walking to school as opposed to being driven, or jumping into the deep end of the pool versus the shallow end.. The problem is that our emotional evaluation of risk developed to protect us against the sort of dangers we faced 50,000 years ago, not the ones we face today, and it’s only been in the last 50 years that our emotions have been manipulated by televised images.

  55. tracey September 23, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Huh. I guess our pack is unusual then? We have knives and whittling and the boys run around in the dark at the Halloween party without much supervision even though there could be, you know, CRAZY PEOPLE waiting to snatch them up in the woods…

    that was sarcasm, fyi.


  56. Deb September 23, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    I guess it depends on your pack. My son is in 2nd grade – a Wolf this year. Our pack doesn’t let 1st graders – the Tigers – earn the Whittling Chit so my son will earn it this year. They have to learn alot of safety rules, and demonstrate them, and have so many of hours of practice before earning the Whittling Chit. But they do use knives. And the pack presents each Scout with a Cub Scout pocketknife along with the Whittling Chit. Like another poster said, if they misuse the knife while around other scouts any adult will mark the safety card (required to be carried with the knife or it’s confiscated on the spot) and after a few marks you lose the knife and must earn it back (the next year).

    This summer at camp (as a Tiger), my son earned the beltloops (don’t do patches anymore) for BB guns and Archery. Lots of supervision and they teach alot of safety rules. One small violation and you lose archery/shooting range privileges for 2 days (strict considering camp is only 5 days long).

    I was upset to learn that many scout camps don’t offer these activities any more. I’d much rather have my son learn the safety stuff and how to shoot/knife skills properly than by messing around with friends.

  57. Ruby in Montreal September 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    In the 80’s I volunteered extensively at a residence for multiply handicapped children and young adults. Once a week we took our group into the kitchen and prepared supper together. One of the young men had an arm that was permanently raised above his head, and he couldn’t lower it unless he used the other hand to hold it down.

    It was his job to cut up the English cucumber for the salad. Using a good, sharp chef’s knife. With that one hand he managed to slice the cucumber paper thin every single time. He never got hurt.

    One of the reasons our family left Guiding was the reluctance of leaders in our area to let the girls do anything responsible – handle a knife, wash dishes, learn first aid or take babysitting classes. Friends who went through the full Guiding program as kids often express a sense of bewilderment at how much has been removed from the program, and how many life skills (sewing, ironing, preparing meals, doing laundry, building a fire, etc.) have either become optional or can be replaced with something else.

    If we never let kids handle a knife or cook or light a match, they’ll never learn. Anyone who wants this kind of safety might as well bubble wrap their kids at birth, and be prepared to attend to their every need until the parents’ dying day.

    Ruby in Montreal

  58. Marion September 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    First rule of woodwork: use sharp tools. Blunt tools will force you to use more, well, force, and the chance of the tool slipping and hurting you grow exponantially (sp?)

  59. KateNonymous September 23, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    “I’m reminded of a young woman who was Venturing President in our Boy Scout Council (Venturing is a coed program for youth 14 through 20), who, when asked why she moved to Venturing from Girl Scouts, said “I wanted to do things, and all we did in Girl Scouts was sit in a circle and get in touch with our feelings.””

    It sounds like she had a bad Girl Scout troop. Ours used fewer shortcuts than the local Boy Scout troops, and made it possible for me and my friends to develop any number of skills and have a wide range of experiences. Including whittling, with actual knives, which we were taught how to sharpen for safety!

    For years, when someone has been amazed at my willingness to tackle unpleasant tasks (using a disgusting bathroom that’s the only thing available, picking up the piece of my husband’s finger that he sliced off in the garage and bagging it so well that even the ER doc was impressed), my response has been, “I was a Girl Scout. I can do anything.”

    I don’t think it’s fair of that particular person to blame Girl Scouts when to me it just sounds like her leader was lame.

  60. SwissBob September 23, 2009 at 11:58 pm #

    Scouting is built on the backs of volunteers and sometimes their priorities are ripe for frank discussion. I have and older son who is the verge of Eagle rank. He was going with his Webelos younger brother to the northwoods of Wisconsin. The adults going were not familiar with the camp they were heading to but my son had been there a number of times. At their prep meeting they decided that no one would be allowed to bring knives. Then they began discussions of meal planning. One of the adults was prodly describing a 3-4 foot long cooler they were going to stock with various foods that they would keep in the camp. My older son, to his credit, pointed out to the adults they were essentially preparing “BEAR BAIT” and they should be aware that last time he was there they spotted bears at various locations. As it turned out many of the attendees brought knives in defiance of the request and the adults discovered the many uses of a sharp tool.

  61. Gary September 24, 2009 at 5:30 am #

    My kids are not in the scouts…nothing against the scouts, it just does not fit in our busy hecticness.

    But reading about the pocket knives brought bck fond memories of whittlin’. I remember the weeks it took to carve out my soap box derby race car, to get it just right. And sitting around a campfire just whittling a stick to a point…

    I am getting each of them a pocket knife, a sharp one.
    Gonna teach them how to whittle, it seems as if it may be a lost art.

    By the way the boys both already know how to peel a potato!

  62. LisaS September 25, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    our Bear Den last year earned their knife card after learning knife safety and doing a soap carving with … a plastic McDonalds knife.

    my son got additional lessons at home, with his grandfather’s Scout pocket knife.

  63. d September 26, 2009 at 6:34 am #

    As someone who did all this about 12 years ago with a real knife, I feel sad for the kids. Boy scouts/Cub scouts main appeal was that I could get out from the reach of my mother and learn things on my own.

  64. Audie September 28, 2009 at 2:41 am #

    “This just in from a town outside of Georgia.”

    Well, that doesn’t narrow it down very much, does it….?


  65. Nick June 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    I just happened on to this site while looking of another peace of scouting media I needed. I am a Cub master for my sons pack and a shooting sports coordinator for the council. I have all ways been a big knife guy and never had anyone to teach me when I was young. So when I saw the scouts had it as part of the program I was all over helping teach it. I will start with the plastic knives but they end using the real deal. I also show the different types of blades and how/what they can be used for. A knife is a useful tool for work and art.

    I believe I will be returning to this site for more open minded ness.

    Have a great day.


  1. Playing with Knives « Journey To Crunchville - September 24, 2009

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