Pocket Knife Maintenance

Last week we took the boys to our week-long scout camp. As the boys were working on their woodcarving merit badge, I also was carving my own creation out of wood.  As I was wittling away and attempting to create a wooden spoon, I noticed something about my knife... it was filthy and full of lint!

On page 380 of the current Boy Scout Handbook, there are some excellent tips on how to clean your knife.  

The steps that I take to cleaning my knife are as follows:

  1. Open every blade and gadget that is in your knife. (be careful with all the blades open as to not cut yourself)
  2. Use a moist q-tip to clean out every nook and cranny of the knife of dirt and lint
  3. Use a dry q-tip to finish the cleaning and to also dry the inside of the knife
  4. Use a third q-tip with a bit of oil to place on all the joints of the knife.
  5. Repeat these steps when your pocket knife gets dirty again.


Thursdays are a fun day to take a look at some of the older handbooks that I have collected through the years.  This edition is my favorite.  It was my Grandfather's when he was a scout leader and an employee at a Scout Camp in Iowa.

From the 1980 printing of the Boy Scouts of America Handbook

An aquarium, as the wood tells you (aqua is Latin for water), is a watery mini-environment. For this you need a fish tank or bowl with a layer of clean sand on the bottom.  Fill the tank with pond water. Anchor a couple of local aquatic plants in the sand. Then introduce a few water snails and a couple of minnows or other small fish. 

If you can't get pond water, use tap water and let it stand a few days to lose its chlorine. And if you can't collect your own plants and fish, get them from a pet shop. Here you can also buy aquarium fish food. The main point in feeding is: Don't over feed. Feed once a day and only enough to last the day. 

Most aquarists buy exotic fish for their aquaria. You will have more fun if you stick to native fish you have caught yourself. Shiners, minnows, darters, killifish, sunfish, sticklebacks, daces do well. Include a few snails. Snails are scavengers - they will keep your aquarium clean. 

Cub Scout Six Essentials

While doing any outdoor activity with your Cub Scouts, each boy should have the following six essentials.

First Aid Kit

Cub Scouts will only need a small kit of their own. Their kids should have some adhesive bandages, moleskin to prevent blisters, antibiotic ointment (single use packages work great), and insect bite pain reliever.  This is not a comprehensive list, but it will get your Cub Scout started.

Filled Water Bottle

Keeping your Cub Scout hydrated is crucial, especially when it is hot out. Everyone should have a water bottle that will hold enough water for the entire hike. If you're going on a longer hike and need to carry more water, a Camelbak hydration pack is a great solution.


For camping and to have at night.

Trail Food

Trail mix, granola bars, fruit... food that is healthy, energy boosting and does not need to be refrigerated.

Sun Protection

We all know how important sunscreen is - even when its cloudy. Also a hat and lip balm.


There are two things your Cub Scouts need to know about the whistle: 1) It's only for emergencies, and 2) Three blasts of the whistle means "HELP!" I might be a good idea to practice the help signal before the hike or during a den meeting in order for the boys to understand the rules associated with the whistle.

Remember, everyone going on the hike, or camping needs to have their own (this includes parent partners and leaders). Each Cub Scout needs to carry these items in their own backpack.


Types of Boats

One of my favorite things to do is canoeing.  Slicing the still lake water with the paddle and gliding on the lake... ahh, so relaxing. But, there is more to boats than just a canoe.   If you did a search on Wikipedia, you would have a list of over 180 different types of boats!  For requirement 1 of the Tiger Adventure, Floats and Boats, we are going to keep it simple with just 5 different types of boats.


Rowing is the act of propelling a boat using the motion of oars in the water, displacing water, and propelling the boat forward. The difference between paddling and rowing is that rowing requires oars to have a mechanical connection with the boat, while paddles are hand-held and have no mechanical connection.


A canoe is a lightweight narrow boat, typically pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled by one or more seated or kneeling paddlers facing the direction of travel using a single-bladed paddle


A kayak is a small, narrow watercraft which is propelled by means of a double-bladed paddle. The word kayak originates from the Greenlandic language, where it is the word qajaq (pronounced [qajaq]). In the UK the term canoe is often used when referring to a kayak.


A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.


A motorboat, speedboat, or powerboat is a boat which is powered by an engine. Some motorboats are fitted with inboard engines, others have an outboard motor installed on the rear, containing the internal combustion engine, the gearbox and the propeller in one portable unit.