Outrage of the Week: Boy Scouts Forbidden to Carry Pen Knives!!

Readers — This one is so utterly insane I’ve been saving it all week as just the thing to shake us up all weekend. (Why we should spend all weekend shook up by the insanity of pop culture, I don’t know. But somehow, it just feels right.)

Anyway, here it is, from Times Online in England:

Penknives may have formed as much part of the scouting experience as badges and campfires, but according to advice from the Scout Association they must no longer be brought on camping trips, except when there is a “specific” need.

The reason is a growing “knife culture” in England — despite the fact that no one seems to have been stabbed to death by a Boy Scout on his way to a campfire. While apparently carrying a fold-up knife whose blade is shorter than 3 inches is still actually legal, the Scout Assocation nonetheless recommends that “knives should be carried to and from meetings by an adult and must not be carried around campsites.”

Maybe Scouts should be carried to and from meetings by an adult, too?

Both my sons are Boy Scouts. I love the Scouts and thank God they take kids out into the wilderness (albeit, here in New York City, by subway, ferry and taxi. For real.) Without knives would my boys feel half as loyal, brave, reverent, thrifty and, more to the point, COOL? No way. Knives are one of the biggest lures of Scouts, beckoning boys into a  culture that inculcates all sorts of great stuff, like resourcefulness, responsibility, and the ability to suck venom from a snake bite.

Free-Range Kids’ message to Britian’s Scout Association is simple: Grow up. — Lenore

65 Responses

  1. My boy was a Scout. The boys weren’t allowed to put sticks in the campfire. We quit.

  2. I hope crossgirl will look for another Cub Pack or Boy Scout Troop. Not all are like that although the BSA is moving away from open fires to camp stoves due to possible environmental impact and Leave No Trace standards.

    US Scouts have to earn their whittling chit in Cub Scouts to carry a knife and their totin’ chit to carry a knife or an ax in the Boy Scouts. They generally are not allowed at non-unit based camping events not because the boy isn’t responsible but because they get lost (my husband was given a whole bunch that had been found at camp to use during a Webelos weekend) and there is the possibility they might be stolen. Also, a boy will lose his privilege to carry a knife if it is misused and he will need to re-earn his chit. It is easier for someone in the unit to “police” this issue than a district or council camp staff person.

    Otherwise it is up to the unit. Some Cubmasters we know say no knives. Period. Others make the boys earn their ticket to carry a knife–and all the boys want that and that is the sort of Cub pack we look for.

    We also know one Scoutmaster who won’t let boys participate in shooting sports. Our son moved to another troop that followed the BSA rules and allows the boys to make these choices for themselves when they go to camp.

    Accidents do happen. My husband was demonstrating knife use to our daughter using BSA standards and we had to take him in for stitches on his palm just a short time later. He really did show her the wrong way to use a knife.

  3. I’m a brand new den mother for Cub Scouts. I can assure you that we will be encouraging traditional scouting activities.

  4. Inuit children learn how to use knives from a very young age so that they’ll never hurt themselves with them when using them daily as adults. Literally, two-year-olds with huge knives, cutting up fish and eating it. As an American, it’s a bizarre sight. But it’s totally necessary. The anthropological term for it is called “independence training.”

  5. I remember the day that we were cutting up raw carrots (or something comparable) at my nursery school. I was having trouble with the table knife or equivalent that they had given me and said, truthfully, “My mother lets me use the sharp knife.” Even as I said that, I thought, “They won’t let me use it.” But my teacher just handed me her knife and picked up another.

    We carried Swiss Army knives all the time in Girl Scouts. We even made pocket lanyards for them.

  6. I use my multi-blade European country Brand Army knife everyday. It was found by a friend that was always losing things so he sold it to me. He figured that he’d get more use by borrowing it from me when he needed it. That was 25 years ago. I almost forgot to leave it behind while visiting a government building.

  7. That reminds me of a story about my first AP. I had a 5th grader walk up to me before school and tell me “I really screwed up. We went camping this weekend and I used my backpack. I forgot to take my pocket knife out.”

    I took him to the AP, and he told his story. The AP could have technically had him arrested or ticketed. Instead he took the knife and locked it in his office – then called the boy’s father to pick it up. (Legally we had to have a parent pick up something like this).

    The boy lost his knife for a month, for being irresponsible – but that was a family decision.

  8. I won’t even get started on this…but the BSA won’t be far behind….

  9. As a Scouter here in Canada, and having been a kid once (ok, maybe still…) having a knife and using it properly is a big right of passage. My children are in Scouts, have pocket knives and they are used properly…and they have been shown how to use them.

    Last time I thought about it, you could kill someone with a sharpened pencil. Better ban those, too!

    Better yet, let’s all wrap up in bubble wrap and sit and do nothing.


  10. Well gosh, let’s not teach them how to start fires…that may lead to arson.

  11. @Alida … how many of us can honestly say that at one time or another he [sic] hasn’t set fire to some great public building?

    (Monty Python fans will recognize the above … others may need to google it)

  12. Are they also homophobes like BSA? Maybe the Boy Scouts need to stop making up things to fear like gays and pocket knives and start teaching boys real skills. The last time we hiked on a mountain behind a group of Boy Scouts, we spent the day picking up candy and chip wrappers that they tossed on the ground. I plan to put my kids in 4H. And my 4 year old is learning how to use a knife chopping vegetables in her nursery school.

  13. Katenonymous, was that perchance a Montessori school? I remember reading years ago that the Montessori philosophy is to give kids real tools and breakable dishes and so forth so that they learn how to handle things properly. There isn’t a track record of Montessori schools going broke on crockery or having daily ER visits for the kids, so I think it must work. 😉

  14. All through my years at a private Catholic high school (8-12 in Aus.), as recently as 2003, I carried a “multi-blade European country Brand Army knife” :-p I kept my knife in my pocket all day, and thought nothing of pulling it out in class, right in front of my teachers to use it as a tool. None of my teachers ever said anything in class, though the school CEO commented once when I was using it outside the main office to fix a part of my bicycle, but he approved of my use. I don’t know of anyone else in the school carrying a knife, but it was stolen once during a PE class from my locker, needless to say I bought another. I still carry a knife most places to this day (though I favor one with a better pair of pliers now).

    I think there is a difference between a knife designed as a tool and a knife designed as a weapon – for one, pulling the knife out of my bag from it’s little pouch and opening the blade with my thumb nail is not something I could easily do in a fight. Nor would I want to use my knife in a fight as it would be to easily knocked from my hand and used against me – let’s face it, those folding multi-blade pocket knives don’t provide the best grip. To me, it is clearly a tool, not a weapon and carrying it has never caused me any problems.

  15. My son has had a swiss army knife for years. He loves it. All of my friends think I’m crazy. In fact, the kiddos earned some money recently and biked the 1.5 miles to the store to spend it and the store would not allow him to buy one as he was under 18. I had to drive there and purchase it for him. Just another person who can decide what is or isn’t good for my child. It gets tiring realizing that everyone but myself knows my child best.

  16. Jennifer: The homophobia and hyperreligiosity are unique to the BSA; no other nation’s scouting organizations have trouble with gay/atheist members/leaders. While I have no close connection to Scouting, so take this as mere speculation, what I’ve read suggests that the “God and gays” business is really a symptom of something more sinister: a shift from an organization run by volunteers who want to pass on the great experiences they had as kids to one run by professional managers who see it as a way to gain money and power. This has led to corruption; some regional councils have been caught deliberately overstating their membership in order to get more funds from organizations like United Way (one council got caught when someone noticed that half the kids were named “John Doe.” I kid you not). In some cases, it appears that the leadership’s motivation has been to get their hand on campground real estate and sell it to developers cheaply. It’s rather depressing.

  17. Pffffffft. What’s a camping trip without whittling?

    I refuse to support the BSA in any way. My sons won’t ever be members. Camp Fire is great. Y Guides too.

  18. @KateNonymous You being given a table knife demonstrates all that is wrong with knife handling these days. Unless those carros were already cooked, a table knife is a downright dangerous tool, because it is not sharp, thus more power need to be applied and possible slip-ups are going to happen – because you can stab someone with a table knife, unless it’s make from plastic.

    I’m not a knife freak by any measure, but when I cook, I check the knives – and if they are not to the job and can’t get sharpened, I won’t use them. Much too dangerous. Much more dangerous that the few cooking knifes I keep reasonably sharp.

  19. ebohlman and other anti-scout folks: I can only speak to my own experience, but both my sons had amazingly positive experiences in cub scouts and boy scouts, and the reason was the tremendous number of wonderful, dedicated adults–ranging from the Scoutmaster to the helpful Mom next to you at the meeting. These are good people who are really dedicated to helping boys become men. And while they do see a religious component in that, they are completely open to that component coming from any religion, East or West. (This last is not just the people I worked with; it’s part of the scouting manual.)

    Of course, the knives and the shooting, and the independent hikes in the wilderness, are huge parts of all that. The organization will definitely lose its power if all those things are eliminated.

  20. We have an annual camping trip with another family, and it is a right of passage for the kids (6 in total) to get their own Swiss Army Knife at age 10. (It originally started as bar mitzvah gifts for their kids – they’re a bit older than ours) Prior to that they shown how to whittle sticks, proper knife use, maintaining a safe area, etc. But to turn 10 means you get your very own knife, and no longer have to borrow, ask permission, etc. My younger son is the last of the kids – he’ll turn 10 this January, and can’t wait! Then he’ll want to go camping! Thing is, we live in Canada, and there’s snow in January. He’ll have to hang on until we all go in the summer!

  21. And while they do see a religious component in that, they are completely open to that component coming from any religion, East or West. (This last is not just the people I worked with; it’s part of the scouting manual.)

    And where does that leave atheists and agnostics?

  22. Lenore & folks,

    I love this site, and although I am past the age of worrying about raising children, I am very concerned for the newest generation in the family. I want them to have as much freedom as I had, and as much as their parents had.

    On this one outrage though, I totally understand where the authorities are coming from. Great Britain is currently experiencing real trouble with knife violence. In the last year that I could find complete figures for, there were 277 deaths from stabbings. There were many more serious woundings. Since then, in one particularly brutal week, there were 12 knife deaths – 6 of them among teenagers.

    The victims of this knife violence are largely teenage boys – ages 13 to 19. While we tend to think of scouting as an event for young boys, its probably much harder to say that 7 year olds can carry knives, but because of the current climate 13 year oldss can’t, than to simply say that no boys will be carrying knives at the curren time.

    This may not be the best way to handle the situation, but it is understandable. And for those thousands of parents who have been to the hospital to visit their wounded children, this is not a hypothetical threat. It is also part of a legal issue over the carrying of knives, not simply a free-range issue. In areas where it is banned, the boy scouts may not want to encourage the behavior.

    London England and Topeka KS may be dealing with very different issues here. It helps to keep that in mind before we become outraged.

  23. @RunTime714 I cannot find sources for your figures.

    For 2008 I found http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/08/01/study.reveals.cost.stabbings.britains.health.service very interested, which quoted “between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2005. The results show that there were 1,365 patients with penetrating trauma injuries”

    I also found

    Those numbers also disagree with you.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t a problem that needs to be tackled, but it’d be helpful to use correct numbers.

    And besides, it’s still the wrong way to handle this problem. Apparently a small minority of gang members manages to dictate terms to a whole country.

    Well, perhaps they should install some more CCTVs.

  24. my son just went to a cub scout intro mtg last night and they talked about knives and teaching the boys how to use them properly. the scoutmaster said that in over eight years he’s only had 2 boys cut themselves. the assistant scoutmaster also commented that every year they have parents cut themselves. apparently a “little” knowledge is the dangerous thing.

  25. When I was living in Park Forest, Ill., I was a Girl Scout. We went on camping trips. We learned how to build a proper fire, roast marshmallows and do many of the things the Boy Scouts were allowed to do. After my third grade year, we moved to Jackson, MS. I joined the local troop and when I asked when we were going camping, the troop leaders were horrified. They said girls shouldn’t and couldn’t do those tings. Instead we were taught how to knit and had manners classes. I promptly quit and never joined another Girl Scout Troop. Mind you, this was back in the early ’80s. I have a feeling the Girl Scouts have gotten a lot worse on what girls are not allowed to do.

  26. I remember being the only brownie who could make a fire. The parents had to wait for me to get up so they could make their coffee. 😀

    (One time I awoke to them burning wet leaves…)

  27. RunTime714 I hear what you’re saying, but somehow teaching kids that knives are always and only dangerous weapons used in violence doesn’t strike me as the best approach. Not only does it send a bad message, it’s obviously false.

  28. Yeah my ds10 was almost on school grounds the first day when he realized he left his knife in his pocket. Fortunately we walked together the first day (just the first day I promise walks by himself all others days), so I took it home.

    Now we do morning check: clothes, hair, teeth, homework, no knife!!

  29. BSA packs vary widely. Some have jumped on the “No gays, all religion” bandwagon. Most I have encountered don’t care about that. Our pack has all the kids do the religion based requirements at home with their parents – religion is seen as a family thing. We recognize kids who earn religious awards for any religion, but we don’t make it a big requirement. We are all about campfires, responsible knife use, and having a lot of fun. We wade through mud, go to camp and shoot arrows and bb guns, and pick up garbage with (gasp) our hands. Boy scouting, done well, is a great place for free range kids who don’t want to specialize in a sport at age 6, who like rockets and models, who like to learn useful skills, and who want to get out from behind all the screens.

  30. I agree with RunTime714 on this, while I don’t thinking banning knives completely was a great way to go I do understand why it was done.

    Here in the UK we don’t have guns easily available so our angry, disenfranchised teenagers use knives as weapons instead. It’s not a matter of kids not knowing how to use them safely, it’s a matter of teenagers in this country taking out their anger/taking part in gang violence with knives instead of guns.

    Would you in America be as outraged if the Scouts decided not to allow kids to practice rifle shooting at a camp for teenage boys (something which my brother, who is a Scout leader allows his Scouts to do each year at camp) because there is a big problem with gun crime in the US? I’m guessing not.

    It’s worth thinking a bit about the country and culture you’re talking about before you condemn something. Yes, it’s not ideal but it’s the case here that we have a big problem with knife crime, predominately among teenage boys (exactly the age a lot of Scout camps are working with). Making out that the British Scout Association is now a babyish organisation which should “grow up” is ridiculous.

    As for the religious aspect, my brother and I were raised atheists, we both started Scouts and Guides (the girls’ equivalent) at age 6 and are still involved with local groups today. My two girls have been raised agnostic and the oldest is in Brownies (for 5-7 y/o) and loves it. Her troop is predominantly Muslim with a few Christians and a few agnostics like her.

  31. RunTime714 and Jane – as the Times article makes clear Swiss army type knives are *not* illegal to carry in the UK.

    The UK has seen an explosion in knife crime and the carrying of knives for “protection”. Most of those knives are kitchen knives. Swiss Army type knives that the scouts tend to use nowadays are not illegal to carry – in part because they have valid and important uses and in part because they are much harder to cause serious injury with (not in anyway impossible but they aren’t in the same league).

    If scout leaders were saying they’ve been having problems with scouts using their blades inappropriately then that’s one thing. But removing knives from a situation in which they are used appropriately because it’s decided that kids can’t be trusted when they haven’t proved themselves untrustworthy is very sad. It’s also likely to lead to a situation where many fewer people are unable to use knives properly. Another skill lost in a generation? Because we want to play the “better safe than sorry” card without good evidence again.

    And to ebohlman etc. – The UK Scouts don’t have homophobic rules but they do not allow adult volunteers who are atheists to take on any management roles.

  32. >>>>These are good people who are really dedicated to helping boys become men.

    They are good people who have chosen to align themsleves with an organizations that supports homophobia and bigotry. Some people may find hat acceptable. I do not.

  33. My brother and I were not scouts, but had Swiss Army knives as kids; I think he went to the emergency room a couple of times with hand injuries. Perhaps it would have been better if we had some sort of formal knife safety training…

  34. LindaLou, I have struggled with this, as I have struggled with the Catholic church’s views on things. But for me, and my family, the benefits of being both Catholics and cub scouts outweigh the drawbacks. And really, my sons don’t know that the BSA has these official positions. I haven’t mentioned it. No one in our pack has mentioned it. National can say all it wants – around here, it is a non issue.

  35. “Would you in America be as outraged if the Scouts decided not to allow kids to practice rifle shooting at a camp for teenage boys (something which my brother, who is a Scout leader allows his Scouts to do each year at camp) because there is a big problem with gun crime in the US? I’m guessing not.”

    I would be. But of course, I had already been training my son on rifle use for a couple of years by the time he got to do it in Scouts.

  36. My son taught my 5 year old grandson to use a pocket knife this summer while we were camping, he also through wood on the fire. He is just fine and does not desire to stab anyone.

  37. […] Outrage of the Week: Boy Scouts Forbidden to Carry Pen Knives!! Readers — This one is so utterly insane I’ve been saving it all week as just the thing to shake us up all […] […]

  38. Don’t suck venom from a snakebite! Hahahaha, old, old advice.

  39. Baden Powell is rolling in his grave.

  40. While 3-inch Swiss Army knives are not illegal, there’s the idea that you shouldn’t carry them. My husband doesn’t carry one any more because he knows the police can take it off him. (Never mind that he has never been stopped by the police in his life, much less searched.)

    I was knitting at a toddler group and there was a father there. I’d forgotten scissors and needed to cut my yarn. He was a pretty manly-looking man, the sort of guy who usually can be counted on to have a knife in America. So, I asked him if he had a small knife. He said “No” in a rather surprised way and I said “Oh, sorry. I just need to cut this and you look like the sort of guy who might carry a knife.”

    He was very offended and the other mothers were shocked at what I’d said. What they’d heard me say was “You look like a violent sort of man.” I explained that I meant an Army knife, and that he looked “handy” and that guys like him in America usually carry knives. They told me that that was not allowed over here. I think that in this town, because it is so poor and violent, you’re actually not allowed to carry a knife. I’m not sure how that works, but maybe it’s at the police’s discretion.

    Anyway, I can see how in a culture like this, boy scouts would not be allowed to carry a knife. I think it’s sad, but I can understand it.

    In fact, I would have been very surprised to hear that the boy scouts did carry knives.

  41. @ runtime714 et al- it’s interesting to me that these are the same arguments they used when getting guns banned (and some would say that the rise in knife crime is a direct result of that). When they succeed in criminalizing possession of a knife, they’ll probably move on to matches and lighters.

  42. @CLT Yup, I think you’re right. Some of our biker gangs in this country already do… one of them carries ball peen hammers that they claim are “tools” when asked about them by cops.

  43. Well, Britain, what do you expect. It’s not legal to own a gun. It’s not legal to spank your children. Funny how people find a way around all these government protections, though. For instance, with a “growing knife culture.”

  44. “Would you in America be as outraged if the Scouts decided not to allow kids to practice rifle shooting at a camp for teenage boys (something which my brother, who is a Scout leader allows his Scouts to do each year at camp) because there is a big problem with gun crime in the US? I’m guessing not.”

    Yes. I would be.

  45. For those concerned about the supposed religious aspect of the BSA. The first troop that our son was involved in (the no shooting sports Scoutmaster) had rather vocal boys who boasted of their atheism. The troop was not religious in any sort of way except they were chartered to a church and only a couple boys were actually from that church.

    Packs and Troops may have a very close or almost no relation with their charter organization. Some will be based on a particular religion or “habit” (I know of homeschool troops and crews chartered to Fire or Police Depts that function like the old Explorer Scouts did). These distinctives will be mentioned in the charter agreements.

  46. I was listening to a podcast recently about guns. The interviewee said that not only is responsible ownership needed for those who have and use guns but there is also a need for responsible non-gun ownership. People believe that guns get up of their own accord and shoot people and non-owners need to get themselves educated in what to do if they come across a gun. They need to educate their children on what to do if they find a gun–how many accidents happen because a child was visiting a house and found a gun and didn’t know what should be done with it?

    There are two sides to these issues and neither an owner nor a non-owner should be ignorant of how to handle a gun or knife or (fill in the blank).

    If you have a chronically ill child you make sure that a babysitter is trained to take care of that child. It can be as basic as knowing how to use an epipen or inhaler to how to respond to a monitor that is alarming. This is basic to the scout motto to Be Prepared.

    Whether or not a scout ever owns an ax or gun for himself the opportunity exists to become educated on what and how to handle one and it is the responsibility of the adults to make sure their opinion on these things does not keep boys (and girls) in ignorance.

  47. “Would you in America be as outraged if the Scouts decided not to allow kids to practice rifle shooting at a camp for teenage boys (something which my brother, who is a Scout leader allows his Scouts to do each year at camp) because there is a big problem with gun crime in the US? I’m guessing not.”

    Yes I would. I live in Texas – and believe all children should be taught to swim, water safety and basic gun safety. I am sick of kids dying because people don’t know basic things like don’t swim out from shore – walk out and swim in (basic fun at the beach swimming), how to get out of a rip tide (swim diagonal), that the swirling water around the bridge pylons means a dangerous currents and to stay the hell out, and that swimming in flood waters is fool hardy and stupid.

    Gun accidents –
    IT was hidden
    I didn’t think they knew we had a gun
    We never let them touch the gun.

    I’ve been shooting since I was 5 or 6, so have my sister and cousins. None of us have ever mishandled a gun – the rules are practically part of our DNA.

    The first year I went to sleep away camp they told me I couldn’t use a rifle but had to use a BB gun. I stuck my feet in the dirt and refused, because of family rules. My cousin a year older attending the camp backed me up (usually we went at each other hammer and tongs so this was significant) The camp officials had to call my father and have him give me express permission to touch a BB gun*, before I would use it.

    Yea I had a Swiss Army Knife before I was out of elementary school. Even though I have fine motor problems – I never cut myself with it.

    *Dad hated BB guns with a purple passion, because people act like they are a toy instead of a weapon. He preferred us to use 22 rifle, because people recognized that as a gun.

  48. My outgoing group of high school Girl Scouts have all been taught to use a jackknife, a hatchet, an axe and a saw. They pitch tents in the snow, light their fires with flint, dig cat holes, and are willing to try many different things.

    My youngest group (4th & 5th grade) has already learned to pitch a tent, light a fire and extinguish a fire, and cook their meals outside.

    The middle group? They want to go to a hotel this year. 🙂

    My point is that I have three troops of girls with very different ideas about the outdoor. We do a lot and they love the experiences they have – just like BS troops differ in what is offered, so do GS troops. When we go camping in our troop, I encourage my girls to use their knives and other skills – once they’ve been taught how to be responsible about it. 🙂

  49. My story has nothing to do with Boy Scouts, but it proves (at least in my mind) that kids really should be taught how to use knives properly…and then be allowed to use them that way, as long as they’re comfortable with it.

    My younger sister (I’m 9 years older) spent the weekend at our apartment not long after my husband and I were married, and on one of those nights I asked her to help me peel some potatoes for dinner. Knowing that she’s a klutz waaaaay down deep in her DNA, I decided that she would be better off using a vegetable peeler than a paring knife. I ignored her protests, and congratulated myself on avoiding a trip to the ER for stitches.

    Unfortunately, about two swipes into peeling the first potato, the peeler–which had never been used before, and was apparently a cheap, dull piece of crap–slipped and she cut her finger on the blade.

    As she sat there in our kitchen, bleeding into a wad of paper towels, she gave me a dirty look and said, “I TOLD you I’d never used one of those things. Mom lets me use a knife at home!”

    I think she still has a scar on her finger from that stupid peeler, and that was about 11 or 12 years ago.

  50. Painting Scouting with a broad brush is another sort of fear-mongering. Scouting basically has 2 levels.
    One is the national offices of the BSA and GSA. That is the Corporate Level. Most of the folks on that level are paid to administer (count beans). They ban “risky” activities because of the fear of lawsuits and the current cultural fears of youth being allowed to experience real life (in America? Oh, go figure!). The BSA has a very hard time, as most of the US (especially the “My Baby, My Baby” mommies – both male and female) has a hard time with Boys being Boys. The bean counters guard the bottom financial line.
    The other group are the parents of the boys. That is the Volunteer Level. All volunteer. They run the gamut, as in any population of over 1 million, of whiners/cryers to the overly-brave and foolhardy and everything in between.
    And to paint “all of scouting” as doing ANYTHING as 100% of the group is fatuous and wrong.
    Each scout group, both boys and girls (and the newer BSA “Venturing” which can be co-ed, all boys, or all girls over 14 years old) has it’s own personality. Within 2 miles of my suburban home are 6 Scout Troops, 4 Cub Scout Packs, and 2 Venturing Crews. Some of the Troops camp every month, do tremendous community service, learn to handle everything that is sharp, hot, or goes bang (with properly trained adults or older youth and lots of safety measures). Others barely meet and seldom go camping. (Advice to disappointed kids- witch troops/packs if the one that you are in does not suit. )
    The Gay and God issue is very overblown and hyped by the media and those with an axe to grind. We have had gays and atheists in our units, and never batted an eye.
    But that is not the reason for this thread, nor for the FRK.
    The Bad News: The overblown Kids Must Be Safe At All Costs is encroaching on the Scouts. That is completely understandable. After all, who are the “clients? Today’s often overweight, coddled, babied children, wrapped in cotton wool with the sense of entitlement, helicopter parents hovering overhead (the news Helicopters, Rescue Choppers, and my least favorite form, the Attack helicopter-moms and dads) . But it usually fades away as many realize that hey, maybe a little sharp pointy thing training and fun is good for a kid.
    But the no sticks in the campfire rule is a firm one – because they do not leave them in the fire. Instead the urge (understandable- ever written your name with an ember in the dark?) is to wave them about and set other scouts ablaze – well, not ablaze but they might get more than just an owie – think burning coal on end of stick and your seated neighbor’s cheek….. We teach responsible fire starting and management. One boy may be the Firemaster, a position of grave responsibility.
    And just like all sharp pointy, hot, or bangy things there are ways to handle them safely and levels of responsibility to being allowed to ‘play’ with the fire –as in play= experiment with what burns, for how long, how to cook, how to get burned or not, not wave blazing coals about,how to put it out, etc.
    The saddest thing I know is that 90% of the 13 year old boys do not know how to strike a match. Some have never (never!) seen one.
    I Do My Best to get as many sharp, pointy, bangy, hot things in the hands of the boys at the appropriate ages as I can.

  51. I won’t even get started on how ridiculous the idea that children shouldn’t learn to use and be comfortable with blades is.
    But I will say, Never, never ever cut and suck poison from a wound.
    Seriously that is like 60 years out of date and crazy. Bandage and stay STILL

  52. My Boy Scout knife was an old WW II commando knife. Ten inch blade, complete with blood channel, and very sharp. It came in handy for cleaning fish or cutting sapplings. Only comments I ever got were “Cool knife!” or “Hey, can I borrow your sword for a moment?”

  53. I was allowed to use a knife when I was a kid (and Im a girl) and I NEVER robbed anyone, attacked anyone, but I learned to use it safely and responsibly. Seems like the boyscouts are over reacting. Whats boyscouts with our knives and things goodness. I never go camping with out my knife

  54. I was a cubscout for 1 year when I was elementary aged. We were allowed to carry a penknife. I quit the cubscouts after that year, as for the most part it seemed more like a daycare event than actually teaching us, maybe 1 trip a year it seemed. I spent a lot of time out in the woods, from an early age, ALONE, or with same aged kids. We did stuff we wanted to do, experimented with building our own campfires, navigating watersheds, mapping the ravines and riverways, all on our own, without direct adult supervision (and sometimes without their knowledge at all). I’m not saying we didn’t do some pretty stupid things during our times outside, but we were taught to be independent, creative and productive. I try to give my kids a little leash to figure out things on their own as well, in hopes that they can learn to guide themselves through life when the helicopter like parents aren’t hovering around 24/7.

  55. […] “Penknives may have formed as much part of the scouting experience as badges and campfires, but according to advice from the Scout Association they must no longer be brought on camping trips, except when there is a ’specific’ need.” [Times Online via Free Range Kids] […]

  56. Madness. Utter madness. Risk cannot be eliminated, it can only be managed. Besides, a pocket knife that’s not in your pocket is useless. You never know when you’ll need it.

    It reminds me of my father, who grew up in northern manitoba. He got his first rifle at the age of 13. From then on, he regularly went hunting with it, entirely on his own. It’d be interesting to see what those who won’t even let a child carry a penknife, feel about a 13 year old carrying a .22 calibre rifle.

  57. Isn’t it crazy? 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 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!

  58. Heh. I was just reminded about this thread this afternoon. We visited a Slow Food expo at a nearby open air museum and the local group had a kids-run restaurant. Lots of kids from 6 too 12 working as cooks and waiters (if only restaurants had so man and so fast waiters) with minimal adult supervision. And no one batting an eye that these kids had real, sharp knives to cut the apples, tomatoes and other vegetables. Simple dishes, of course, but since they were well within the kids’ abilities, they could do most of the stuff by themselves.

  59. I just found out what they will go after once they ban knives!


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  61. Someone made a comment about gays in the scouts. The moment they allow gays in scouts is when I pull my scout out.

    Sorry if that offends, but I came here looking around about the campfire regulations because suddenly my scout isn’t allowed to light camp fires at trips. But that comment really offended me. Really, did anyone pay any attention to the church scandal? hello?? That was ALL about “gay” men going after teenage boys. Only a SMALL percentage involved young children and practically none involving girls, MOST accusations involved teenage young men!!!!! Father Shanley, one the of the most notorious, was an outspoken supporter of the NAMBLA!!

    Have any of you ever been to a gay pride parade? I went to one 2 years ago in San Fransisco. There is no way on Gods green and verdant earth that I will ever allow my sons to be exposed to that.

    We live in crazy times when people would ‘protect’ our kids from knives and campfires, but think nothing about exposing them to sexual deviants.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to ‘flame’ but it must be said. the moderator didn’t delete the pro-gay comment and I for one and sick and tired of the rainbow mafia shoving their agenda in my face.

    Go ahead and delete my post. Free speech is a joke now too.


  62. dina: Could you explain a few things to me?

    1) Scouting has branches in many countries, yet it’s only in the US that the Boy Scouts ban gay members/leaders. There’s no such rule in, say, Canada or Great Britain.

    2) The BSA leadership has stated on several occasions, including in sworn declarations filed with the Supreme Court, that their policy is based on moral disapproval of homosexuality and is not an attempt to protect Scouts against sexual abuse. In fact, in those declarations the BSA stipulates that gay men are no more likely to sexually abuse Scouts than straight men.

    3) In most cases involve sexual abuse of Scouts by leaders, the leader has been married to a woman.

    How are these possible? Particularly note that if you’re going to argue that in point #2 the BSA leadership hid its real concerns in order to avoid being called “bigots” by gay activists, you’re accusing them of perjuring themselves before the highest court in the land.

    When your sons go to college, how are you going to keep them away from Spring Break? You really have to edit footage from over a decade’s worth of gay pride parades (some anti-gay organizations have done just that for fundraising purposes) to get anything resembling that level of debauchery.

  63. I am a den leader and fixing to take over as Cubmaster . My son is a 4year scout. Idon’t always agree with some of the Scout ways, I still believe in the scout program.. I also firmly believe that everything starts at home with the parents/guardian. If the child is being taught responsibility at home adding to that resposibility at scouts will come easy for the child. Knifes are a big responsibility. I like the traditions of learning how to use the knife and receiving the knife at a certain age. they earned the right.

  64. I won’t even get started on this…but the BSA won’t be far behind….

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