When it comes to scouting, any eager Cub Scout will be itching to get their hands on their Whittling Chip. It’s a great opportunity to work on a fun carving project with them, and introduce them to some of the great pride you can get from handmade woodworks. While it is a fun and exciting chip for any Cub, you’ll want to make sure that your cub understands the safety precautions needed to obtain their chip. Along with this, we’ll talk about some fun wood carving projects that they could do for their chip.
The first topic we’re going to want to discuss is safety. Every Cub will be eager to get their hands on their own pocket knife, but you’ll want to be clear to stress the safety involved in handling the knife. Also, in order to earn their whittling chip, they’ll need to demonstrate an understanding of the safety rules. We’ll go over three of the major safety points below.
A knife is not a toy
This is the first fundamental rule that any Cub will need to understand before they get their whittling chip. A pocket knife is never meant to be used as any object of a game, or be used in a game of hot potato. It shouldn’t be the “it” object when playing capture the flag. It is a tool, and only a tool at that. You want to make sure that if a Cub mishandles their knife, they have the potential of hurting themselves or their friends, which is a trip to the hospital nobody wants to make.
If you are looking for a good first time knife for a cub scout, I highly recommend this one on Amazon by Opinel. The great feature on this knife is that it will lock both when it’s open AND when it’s closed. I think this is an awesome safety mechanism for boys new to having a knife. The boys will like that they have several different colors to choose from!
Close the knife blade when you are not using it
While this seems like a simple task to do, I grew up watching friends get some nasty cuts from leaving blades open. At my favorite sleep away camp for Scouts, we had been playing ghost in the graveyard one night. The object was to get to a bench, and my friend round the corner to plop himself down before he was tagged. Unbeknownst to him, another Scout had left their brand new pocket knife open, sitting on the bench. A few hours later, Matt came back with twelve stitches in his leg. It wasn’t a fun night for anybody.
This is a rule that when not followed, can lead to bad injuries. However, these injuries are easily avoided. Stress the importance to your Cub of keeping their blade closed when it’s not in use, since accidents can and do happen. It’s a straightforward and logical issue. To help teach them, you can relate it to how you wouldn’t blindly stick your hand into the knife cabinet in the kitchen, or, if you have a knife block, point out that you always put the knives away when you’re done using them
Make a safety circle
The third safety tip we’ll briefly touch on is making a safety circle. In the guide, it’ll tell you to stretch out your arm and turn in a circle, ensuring you can’t touch anyone. I prefer to have them also put a short stick in their hand and then rotate, making sure their stick doesn’t poke anybody. This way, for some reason if they do accidentally reach out with their pocket knife, they won’t get hurt.
For campouts, where Cubs are more apt to be running about and playing games, our troop would set up a designated “whittling area”, which was an area of our camp ground that was roped off. You were only allowed to whittle here, still outside of a safe distance as your other cubs, to ensure that boys playing games wouldn’t come running past you while you whittled. It’s an easy precaution that I’d recommend for any campout.
Now that safety is out of the way, we can talk about some fun carving ideas that you and your Cub can work on together.
His Favorite Sport or Sports Team
If your Cub scout already has a favorite sport clearly sticking out, this will be an easy craft to get them interested. With the major sports of basketball, hockey, soccer, or baseball, a simple craft could be getting a square block or wood and carving it into a circle. This will also be straightforward enough that it will give them a sense for how to work with their pocket knife and their hands, and to get a feel for how to not force a cut, but rather having a “easy does it” touch.
If your Cub speeds through this and wants to do something more challenging, but also sports related, see if you two can carve his favorite sports logo. Obviously, the level of difficulty will vary based on what team you’re carving (a Chicago Cubs C versus a Patriots patriot). Difficulty aside, they can get practice adding depth to his carvings and making them more three dimensional, rather than just a 2D representation. On top of this, feel free to grab some paint or colored markers and make his carving the real deal!
His Favorite Animal
If your house has a household pet running around, then this could be a great fit for your Cub. Get them a block of wood, and you can get them going on carving a 2D representation of their pet, be it a cat, dog, bunny, or snake. Young kids are always passionate about their pets, and it’ll be simple to get them excited about making a carving of their friend.
To make this task a bit harder, see if they can make a three dimensional carving of their pet. Or, you can try and have them look at carving more intricate animals, like a tiger, or giraffe, or octopus. An additional upside to this project is getting your Cub to maybe look at some more interesting or unusual animals. If they don’t have a household pet, maybe try and take this as an opportunity to show them about a more unique animal, or an animal that you were in love with when you grew up.
His Favorite Superhero Logo
Superhero movies are incredibly abundant these days. Every other weekend, it seems like another movie is coming out. You can take advantage of this by seeing if your Cub would want to make their favorite superhero logo. Also, many of the superhero logos are straightforward enough that you can help them out. Batman is just a bat, Superman has his diamond S, Captain America is just a circular shield. Even some of the more intricate ones are still simple enough, like Spiderman’s spider. Or, if they like the villains, carving a Joker card isn’t too hard either. Again, feel free to grab the paint and make these carvings look like the real deal.
For parents, this is also an easy time to get your Cub talking on and on about their favorite superhero. For a parent that grew up reading comics, it could be an easy chance to bond with them over something familiar to both of you.
If all these other ideas fail, a final easy carving to get your Cub to do is carving their name. A benefit again of this carving is that it will give them plenty of letters to carve, getting them comfortable with whittling and the more gentle hand that is needed. For letters that have holes in them, you can just leave the holes out, and your Cub can color them in with a black sharpie. This also makes for an easy craft to glue to their mirror or put on a dresser when he’s finished.
If your Cub isn’t up to carving his entire name, then you can always just shorten it down to their initials. Again, this isn’t about getting volume, but just making sure they are comfortable with a knife.
There you have it: four fun ideas for you and your Cub carve. Some of these crafts will definitely take some more time (and dedication) out of your Cub than others, but if they have the itch for whittling it won’t be a problem to keep them interested. Feel free to stop by here for other wood carving and crafting tips, and have fun getting your Cub into the world of woodcarving. No matter what your age, it’s always a delight.
Knife Safety Quiz
As mentioned previously, your Cub will need to complete a safety quick before they are able to earn their chip. The quiz is the same for all troops. Below are copies of the test along with answers so you can practice with your child before the testing.
Here’s a copy of the knife safety test questions that the Cubs will need to know.
A copy of the quiz with the answers can be found here.
Download the whittling chip certification form here.