Scout Knives and Lessons Learned

(Dennis Smith / For the Reporter-Herald)

I love a story about a good Boy Scout knife. My Camillus BSA Whittler was my first real knife, given to me by my father. Much like the author of this article: “Lasting love with a boyhood Scout knife,” my knife has grown with me over the years.

My old Whittler comes with tons of memories attached to it, and so does the author’s blade as he thinks back to childhood:

If you were lucky and got a homemade Valentine from that cute little red-haired girl in the third row, then whoo boy!, you floated on air for the rest of the week. But then you got over it and went back to ice fishing, sleigh riding, throwing snowballs at each other, or whittling stuff with your new Scout knife.

I don’t have any old Valentine cards from those days, nor the red-haired girl either, but I do still have my Scout knife, and it’s been as faithful a companion as my real-life Valentine of 53 years.

I’ve used it for thousand-different chores over the years ranging from whittling tent stakes to sharpening stick arrows, making sling shots and cane poles, skinning rabbits, cleaning fish, cutting rope, fixing leaders and making fuzz sticks to start camp fires. I’ve used it to punch holes in wood and leather, open cans, pop bottle tops, dig splinters out of my thumb, and tighten screws. I can’t imagine leaving home without one.

I’m sure many of us feel the same way, even if we are a disappearing breed, those of us that carry a knife daily.

I know this is a little late in the month to be talking about Valentine’s Day, but the author made a point I thought worth sharing:

I think pocket knives, B-B guns and such are vital to raising a boy or girl up proper-like, maybe more so today than ever.

Exposing kids to knives and guns at an early age and carefully supervising them in their safe and appropriate use is a healthy deterrent to misuse of those weapons…

More than that, it teaches responsibility and it teaches consequences.

My own mind goes back to when I was a Webelos and we were carving bars of soap in our weekly den meeting. It was here that I experienced my first knife related injury.

The bar of soap I brought in to carve was not really appropriate. I didn’t know that some bars are cakier and some are harder. Well, my bar of Zest was awfully hard and slick. While trying to force a cut, I managed to close my slipjoint onto my index finger, resulting in the need for stitches and a tatanus booster.

It was a lesson well learned. My finger is still misshapen from the incident and outside of one notable exception (on the same finger no less!), I’ve managed to avoid major knife injuries… it has made me a stickler for safe handling of sharpened tools. I’ve got my deformed index finger as a constant reminder.

I don’t know when kids are on the horizon for me, but I will absolutely be introducing them to knives when appropriate… maybe something with a locking blade though!


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  1. Sam L. says:

    All my Scout knife cuts were shallow. And 60+ years ago.

  2. justsaying says:

    My first knife was a folding Buck that I purchased myself as a early teen. Wore it proudly for a LONG time. It was followed by a wire-man’s utility knife. Unfortunately, I have neither today… 🙁

  3. Sam L. says:

    Linked at Instapundit at 4PM.

  4. Pyrthroes says:

    Nevermind pocketknives, reports are that most pre-teens in this sad day-and-age spend very little time outdoors. No exploring, hiking, self-reliant derring-do in “unsupervised” circumstances, meaning no opportunities for following where one’s curious if naive spirit leads.

    Absent any campfire expertise, technical-utilitarian instruction, we nonetheless lead an extraordinarily venturesome youth to thirty-something. Kids used to say, “Come on, dad” until I pulled out the old knockabout Youth Hostel cards, folded passports, exotic photos spanning —how you say?– our hitchhiker’s view of the galaxy.

    Fare forth when young: “The greatest poverty is not to live in the natural world.”

  5. Dave says:

    My first pocket knife was an official navy blue Cub Scout knife I received in 1969. I still have it around somewhere. The first thing I ever carved was a bar of Ivory soap. I carved it into the shape of a guitar. As a Cub Scout leader in the 1990s I had my den carve ivory soap. Many of the boys were afraid of their knife and didn’t want to use it.

  6. I never got major cuts, nicks now and then is all.

    I do think boys + knives need to + supervision though.

    Also I think slip lock knives are…sub-optimal for kids. A fixed or lockback is better and safer.

  7. Ricky says:

    My first knife was a Cub Scout knife. I was carving out a canoe and cut my middle finger on my left hand when the blade closed and cut me. I still have the scar to remind me of what happened, but it also reminds me to be careful and pay attention to what I am doing when I have a knife in my hands now.

  8. mike in cinci says:

    Sad, but most Boy Scout Councils have severely limited BB and archery days over the past several years.

    I keep waiting for the whittling chip to go away, ‘for safety.’

  9. Bob Sweeney says:

    My first knife was from my father. It was a small Case knife that I could not wait to take to school for show & tell.It was only one of many over the years I received. My favorite was my first BSA knife until my grandchildren gave me a small Buck knife which is now my favorite.

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Scout Knives and Lessons Learned

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