Girl Scouts utilize pocket knives in many aspects of troop life. A Scout uses her knife to shave kindling for a fire, carve wood for crafts and cut ropes or cords for setting up a tent. As she learns knife safety, the Girl Scout increases the range of activities she can accomplish and the number of merit badges she can earn.

Basic Safety
Girl 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. Pocket knives can hold other tools besides knife blades; proper instruction in using those tools increases the level of safety for the Girl Scouts.

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

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. Girl Scouts can practice proper hand placement and safe opening and closing techniques without danger of cutting themselves.

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’ skill by wiping lipstick along the edge of cardboard or plastic blades. If a girl mishandles her blade, lipstick on her hand will reveal where she would have been cut by a real knife.

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 pocket knives can help to prevent mishaps for untrained girls.

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