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This discussion has been very helpfull.


As our troops CC, I will relax my opposition to sheath knives. It seems that tool specific safety is the more appropriate issue. I am still not completely sold that 12 year olds should be sporting k-bars on campouts, but I am willing to get over it.


For now, my son seems to be satisfied with his swiss army knife. It is probably only a matter of time before he wants to be similarly "prepared".





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Don't worry too much about agreement, if in fact that is what you seek. If a FAQ file existed for this site, it would look like a two sided coin. Both sides would be beat up pretty bad from overexposure to insights and wisdom of which there is no fathoming the depths.


As far as the sheath knife is concerned, it is not the qualities or the lack of qualities, since you want a data based assessment, that is in question. It is what it represents. The sheath knife has a history of defense or attack. It has not usually thought of as an instrument for little camp chores. Most of us want our Scouts to look wholesome. Looking the part of the "dwead piwate Woberts" is not what we are shooting for in Scouting.






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The original question was " Is this a BSA Policy?(if so where can I find it?) or a Local / Council decision. "


Go to http://www.scouting.org/pubs/gss That is National's web page for Guide to Safe Scouting.


That is the current, searchable guide to safe scouting.


Here is what it says.


"A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry 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.

Rememberknives are not allowed on school premises, nor can they be taken aboard commercial aircraft.

References: Boy Scout Handbook, Fieldbook, Bear Cub Scout Book, and Wolf Cub Scout Book."


This is current BSA policy. It's vague about what "large" is. But that's the rule and it's location.






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"to my understanding scouts can not have sheath knivesz"


An understanding not supported by any BSA publication.



"if i where (sic) you i would just take them away"


Why? Will they jump up in the middle of the night and go on a rampage?

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This topic has been hashed before, but it is worth going over again. Count me among those who also had the mistaken belief early in my career as a scouter that sheath knives were prohibited by G2SS. They are not prohibited, but they are largely unnecessary and usually mean extra weight. A good folding multi tool with a good blade is a better choice.


I also recall another regular poster, MatuaWarrior, describing hiking on Guam. There they go with machetes because they always have to clear their trail. So the size and type of blades to be used are also greatly influenced by the circumstances.


In another thread at least two situations where sheath knives are essential safety tools were identified. These are kayaking and scuba diving. So, to repeat myself, for ordinary backpacking, day hiking, and general camp chores scouts should be encouraged and taught to make intelligent choices and avoid unnecessary bravado by carrying an unnecessarily large blade. Where large fixed blades are warranted in specific situations they should be used.

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Thanks to everyone for contributing to this discussion. Here is what I would write for an FAQ from what I know now (obviously reflecting my biases):


Q. Are sheath knives permitted in scouting?


A. Sheath knives are not banned by any official BSA publication. The Guide to Safe Scouting does say "Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish."


Most people agree that large sheath knives are not appropriate for most tasks you are likely to perform while scouting. However smaller sheath knives (with blades smaller than five inches) are useful and appropriate tools for many tasks. They are sturdy, simple, easy to clean and less likely to cause injury because of inadvertant folding. Folding knives are also useful and appropriate tools for many situations.


The problems with sheath knives have nothing to do with safety. Both sheath knives and folding knives may be used safely or unsafely. The problem is that they symbolize knife fighting to some people. Carrying sheath knives is not politically correct and may be bad for public relations. Scouts might get into a size competition to see who can get the biggest knife.


Some scouting organizations have an outright ban on all sheath knives to avoid these problems. Others limit the size of sheath knives, permitting the use of the smaller more useful knives. Still others believe in letting scouts learn to choose the appropriate tool for a given task.




I realize that this FAQ answer is biased, and could be made more respectful of the anti-sheath knife viewpoint. Let's pretend we are really writing an FAQ. (We can you know.) How would you re-write the above answer? I'm especially interested in suggestions from the anti-sheath knife people. You should be the ones to summarize your position, not me.

(This message has been edited by EarthMan)

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I didn't have a problem with sheath knives until my uncle told me a story. He used to be a professor at a local college and taught wilderness survival type stuff.


On one occasion, one of the students had a sheath knife strapped to his belt in the back. Someone else tried to pull a joke and steal the knife. The student felt it coming out of the sheath and reached back quickly to stop the would-be thief's hands. He grabbed the open blade instead.


If you don't need something that could harm you or someone else, why carry it?

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To think that a sheath knife is safer because you do not have accidents that are associated with blades folding up on you, assumes that their are no accidents related to the fact that the blade is fixed in an open position. All knives are dangerous, some in different ways than others. The BSA's recommendation away from sheath knives is no doubt based on their decades of experience with youth and knives. For camping a fixed blade sheath knife is rarely the proper tool.


Like our fires, we tend to like blades larger than needed to do the job required of them. Let's teach good decision making.

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Question: do patrol cook kits tend to include kitchen-like fixed blade knives? When I was a Scout, we used a roll-up kitchen utensil kit that include, in addition to a spoon, fork, spatula, and peeler, a large wood handled kitchen (chef) knife and a smaller paring knife. Is that still the case?


If yes, I'd be happy to say that "the proper tool for the job" is still alive & well in Scouting; If no, why not??



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That was my point. After writting my post, I checked scoutstuff.org and found the rollup "Chef's Tool Kit" that indeed includes two fixed blade knives. The "slicing knife" looks to have about a 7 or 8 inch blade.


I think the key point here is that the Scouts are not carrying that large fixed blade knife around on their person, but it is available in the cook kit when needed.


That meets Scoutings recommendation for boys not to carry large and/or fixed blade knives, but also makes a large knife, often completely appropriate for food preparation, available in the correct setting (food prep).


In my experience, for most non-kitchen related activities in Scouting, a locking-blade folding knife will do just fine, EXCEPT in food preparation.


Maybe we are going about this discussion backwards. Maybe what we should do is list the tasks for which a Scout needs a knife, and then for each one identify the types of knives best suited to those tasks.



>>Whittling-like tasks (carving, sharpening sticks to create stakes, making fur-sticks, marshmallow sticks, etc...)

>>Cutting roap

>>Slicing vegitables

>>Opening canned food

>>Tightening screws

>>Opening paint cans

>>Trimming fingernails

>>Cleaning fingernails

>>Removing bark from sticks

>>Removing small limbs from sticks

>>Opening taped boxes

>>Opening envelopes

>>Opening popcans w/ defective tab rivets



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