Girl Scout Pocketknife Safety

Girl Scouts learn pocketknife safety as preparation for many activities.

Girl Scouts learn to use pocketknives as part of camping and craft activities. Training and practice provide a safe environment for the girls as they advance their skills. By enforcing safety rules, troop leaders set a good example for their charges as well as providing for their well-being.

1 Basic Safety

Scouts receive training in proper opening and closing techniques, the importance of blade sharpening, and safety. Leaders share the correct way to hand a knife to someone else and how to hold the knife for various uses. Pocketknives can hold other tools besides knife blades; proper instruction in using those tools increases the level of safety for the Scouts.

2 Safety Circles

As knife training begins, Scouts should spread apart in safety circles. The circle places each girl a little over arm's length from the girls around her. The distance minimizes the risk of accidental injury to an adjacent girl if one girl fumbles with her knife.

3 Practice Knives

Practice knives cut from heavy cardboard allow safe initiation into knife handling. The practice knives are cut in two parts -- the blade and the case -- which are secured with a brad. The brad permits the blade to pivot in relation to the case just as a real knife does. Scouts can practice proper hand placement, and safe opening and closing techniques without danger of cutting themselves.

4 Plastic Knife Whittling

Use bars of soap or raw potatoes as subjects for practice whittling. Supply plastic knives as whittling tools. This exercise gives experience in pushing a knife blade through a solid surface without the increased risk of metal blades. Some leaders test the level of the girls' skills by wiping lipstick along the edge of cardboard or plastic blades. If a girl mishandles her blade, lipstick on her hand reveals where she would have been cut by a real knife.

5 Warnings

The ages and maturity levels of the girls in the group should be taken into account when planning knife activities. Rules within the troop regarding the presence of pocketknives can help prevent mishaps for untrained girls.

Mary Beth Magee began her writing career with an article in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" more than 40 years ago. She has been published in local and national media, including "Real Estate Today" and "Just Praising God." Magee holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, with a focus on adult learning, from Elmhurst College.