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Bear Claws Adventure

BSA retired this adventure on June 1, 2024. It was replaced by the Bear Whittling adventure. This information remains here for historical purposes.

The Bear Claws adventure is an exciting and educational journey designed specifically for Bear Cub Scouts in the third grade. This adventure provides an opportunity for young Scouts to develop important skills and learn valuable lessons.

bear claws emblem 1

Throughout the Bear Claws adventure, Cub Scouts will engage in various activities that promote creativity, responsibility, and safety. They will have the chance to explore the world of pocketknives, discovering the different designs and understanding their uses.

By participating in this adventure, Cub Scouts will not only gain knowledge about pocketknives, but they will also learn the importance of safety and responsibility when handling such tools. They will earn their Whittling Chip, a symbol of their commitment to practicing safe knife handling.

The Bear Claws adventure is not only about pocketknives and whittling, but it also encourages Scouts to develop their artistic skills through soap carving. This activity allows them to express their creativity while honing their fine motor skills.

Overall, the Bear Claws adventure is a well-rounded experience that combines practical skills, safety awareness, and artistic expression. It provides Bear Cub Scouts with a unique opportunity to learn and grow, fostering their personal development and preparing them for future adventures in Scouting. So, let’s dive into the world of Bear Claws and discover the exciting journey that awaits!


Bear Claws Adventure Requirements

Complete the following requirements.

  1. Learn about three common designs of pocketknives.
  2. Learn knife safety and earn your Whittling Chip.*
  3. Do one of the following:
    1. Using a pocketknife, carve two items.
    2. With a pocketknife, safely perform each of these tasks:
      1. Demonstrate how to cut a piece of rope, twine or fishing line;
      2. Open a sealed box without damaging the contents;
      3. Open a can with the can opener tool on a pocketknife;
      4. Remove and replace the screws on an object with the screwdriver tool on a pocketknife;
      5. Open a letter

*One of the items carved for Bear Claws requirement 3 may be used to fulfill Whittling Chip requirement 3.

Click here to download a printable PDF copy of the Bear Claws Adventure requirements (page 1) and a check off sheet (page 2) to keep track of your den’s progress.

Bear Claws PDF

Resources for the Bear Claws Adventure

Requirement 1: Pocketknives

Pocketknives are versatile tools that come in various designs, each with its own unique features and uses. In this section, we will explore three common designs of pocketknives: the jackknife, penknife, and multipurpose knife. Understanding these designs and their uses is essential for Cub Scouts as they embark on their Bear Claws adventure.

The jackknife is a classic and widely recognized design. It typically features a folding blade that pivots on a hinge, allowing it to fold into the handle when not in use. Jackknives are known for their simplicity and compactness, making them easy to carry in a pocket or backpack. These knives are often used for everyday tasks such as cutting ropes, opening packages, or whittling small pieces of wood. Cub Scouts must learn the importance of handling a jackknife safely and responsibly, ensuring that they are aware of the potential risks and how to mitigate them.

Penknives, as the name suggests, are designed to be as slim and compact as a pen. They are often favored by those who require a discreet and lightweight tool for everyday tasks. Penknives typically feature multiple folding blades, including a small blade for precision cutting and a larger blade for more robust tasks. Cub Scouts will discover the versatility of penknives and how they can be used for various purposes, such as cutting fruits, sharpening pencils, or even creating small crafts. Emphasizing the importance of proper knife handling and safety will be a key aspect of discussing penknives.

Multipurpose knives, also known as Swiss Army knives, are renowned for their versatility and wide range of tools. These knives often feature multiple folding blades, as well as additional tools such as screwdrivers, bottle openers, and scissors. Cub Scouts will learn about the different tools available on a multipurpose knife and how they can be utilized in various situations. From opening cans during a camping trip to tightening screws on a project, multipurpose knives offer a wide array of functions. However, it is crucial for Cub Scouts to understand the responsibility that comes with using such a tool and the importance of using each tool safely and appropriately.

By exploring the designs and uses of pocketknives, Cub Scouts will gain a deeper understanding of these essential tools. They will learn to appreciate the versatility and practicality of pocketknives while also recognizing the importance of safety and responsibility. As they progress through the Bear Claws adventure, Cub Scouts will continue to build upon this foundation, developing their skills and knowledge in knife handling and carving. So, let’s move on to the next requirement and delve further into the world of pocketknives and the Whittling Chip.

Requirement 2: Whittling Chip

The Whittling Chip is an important milestone for Cub Scouts on their Bear Claws adventure. It serves as a recognition of their knowledge and skills in handling a pocketknife safely and responsibly. In this section, we will delve into the requirements for earning the Whittling Chip and the significance behind them.

Whittling Chip Requirements

  1. Know the safety rules for handling a knife and show, using these rules, that you know how to care for and use your pocketknife safely.
  2. Make a carving with a pocketknife. Work with your den leader or other adult when doing this. (One of the items carved for Bear Claws requirement 3A may be used to fulfill Whittling Chip requirement 2.)
  3. Read, understand, and promise to abide by the “Pocketknife Pledge.”

To earn the Whittling Chip, Cub Scouts must demonstrate their understanding of safety rules for handling a knife and show that they can care for and use their pocketknife safely. This requirement ensures that Cub Scouts are equipped with the necessary knowledge to handle a potentially dangerous tool responsibly. By following these safety rules, Cub Scouts can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries while using their pocketknife.

In addition to understanding the safety rules, Cub Scouts are also required to make a carving with their pocketknife. This carving can be done in collaboration with their den leader or another adult. It is an opportunity for Cub Scouts to apply their knife handling skills and showcase their creativity. As part of the Bear Claws requirement 3A, one of the items carved can be used to fulfill this Whittling Chip requirement, allowing Cub Scouts to demonstrate their progress and craftsmanship.

Furthermore, Cub Scouts are expected to read, understand, and promise to abide by the “Pocketknife Pledge.” This pledge emphasizes the importance of responsible knife use and sets a standard for Cub Scouts to follow. By making this pledge, Cub Scouts commit to treating their pocketknife with respect, closing it and putting it away when not in use, and using it in a safe manner at all times. The pledge also highlights the importance of considering the safety of others and refraining from using the pocketknife in a way that may cause harm.

The Pocketknife Pledge

I understand the reason for safety rules.
I will treat my pocketknife with the respect due a useful tool.
I will always close my pocketknife and put it away when I’m not using it.
I will not use my pocketknife when it might injure someone near me.
I promise never to throw my pocketknife for any reason.
I will use my pocketknife in a safe manner at all times.

Earning the Whittling Chip is not only a demonstration of skill but also a commitment to safety and responsibility. By completing the requirements and making the Pocketknife Pledge, Cub Scouts show their dedication to using their pocketknife as a useful tool while prioritizing the well-being of themselves and those around them.

As Cub Scouts progress through the Bear Claws adventure, the Whittling Chip serves as a foundation for further exploration of knife handling and carving. It instills a sense of confidence and responsibility in Cub Scouts, empowering them to continue developing their skills and knowledge in a safe and controlled manner.

See more details about earning Whittling Chip.

Requirement 3a: Carving Items

Now that Cub Scouts have earned their Whittling Chip and have a solid foundation in knife safety and responsibility, it’s time to explore the world of carving. In this section, we will provide some tips for novice whittlers and suggest a few easy projects to get started.

For novice whittlers, it’s important to start with the right tools and materials. A good quality pocketknife with a sharp blade is essential. Make sure the blade is securely locked in place before starting any carving project. It’s also a good idea to wear safety gloves to protect your hands from accidental slips or cuts.

When selecting wood for carving, it’s best to choose a softwood like basswood or pine. These woods are easier to carve and less likely to splinter. Avoid hardwoods like oak or maple, as they can be more challenging to work with, especially for beginners. Soap carving is also a popular option. See this den meeting plan for details.

Now, let’s move on to some easy projects that novice whittlers can try. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Whittled Stick Figures: Begin by finding a small, straight stick. Use your pocketknife to carve out the basic shape of a person, including the head, body, arms, and legs. Add details like facial features and clothing if desired. These simple stick figures make great gifts or decorations.
  • Animal Keychains: Choose a small piece of softwood and carve it into the shape of your favorite animal. Add a small eye screw or keychain ring to turn it into a unique keychain. You can create animals like birds, turtles, or even bears to tie in with the Bear Claws adventure.
  • Wooden Spoons: Start with a larger piece of softwood and carve out the basic shape of a spoon. Smooth the edges and add details like a handle or decorative patterns. Wooden spoons can be used for cooking or as decorative pieces in the kitchen.

Remember, these are just a few ideas to get you started. The possibilities for carving projects are endless. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can challenge yourself with more intricate designs and projects.

By exploring the art of carving, Cub Scouts can further develop their creativity, patience, and attention to detail. It’s a rewarding skill that allows them to transform a simple piece of wood into something unique and meaningful.

The Little Book of Whittling

This is a valuable resource for novice whittlers looking for more project ideas. This book provides 18 projects, including knives, forks, birds, animals, trees, and flowers. It covers everything from proper whittling tools and materials to what woods are best to carve. The book also offers guidance on how to start projects by selecting and safely sharpening the best knife for each project. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to expand your skills, “The Little Book of Whittling” is a great tool to help you explore the world of carving.

Requirement 3b: Knife Tasks

In addition to learning about pocketknife safety and soap carving, Bear Cub Scouts also have the opportunity to develop their knife skills by completing various knife tasks. These tasks not only teach them practical skills but also help them become more confident and responsible when handling a pocketknife. Here are some tips for each of these tasks:

Cutting a piece of rope, twine, or fishing line:

  • Before cutting, make sure you have a clear and safe cutting area.
  • Hold the rope, twine, or fishing line firmly with one hand, keeping your fingers away from the cutting edge.
  • With the other hand, use a controlled and steady motion to cut through the material, applying even pressure.
  • Remember to cut away from your body and keep the knife pointed away from yourself and others.

Opening a sealed box without damaging the contents:

  • Start by examining the box and identifying any tape or adhesive that is securing it.
  • Use the tip of the pocketknife blade to carefully lift the edge of the tape or adhesive.
  • Slowly and gently slide the blade along the edge, applying minimal pressure to avoid damaging the contents.
  • Repeat this process on all sides of the box until it can be easily opened without causing any harm.

Opening a can with the can opener tool on a pocketknife:

  • Ensure that the can opener tool is clean and in good working condition.
  • Position the can on a stable surface and hold it firmly to prevent it from moving.
  • Insert the can opener tool into the edge of the can lid, making sure the cutting edge is securely in place.
  • Apply downward pressure while rotating the can opener tool in a circular motion around the lid.
  • Continue rotating until the can opener has made a complete circle, allowing you to lift the lid safely.

Removing and replacing screws on an object with the screwdriver tool on a pocketknife:

  • Identify the type and size of the screw you need to remove or replace.
  • Ensure that the screwdriver tool on your pocketknife matches the size and shape of the screw head.
  • Insert the screwdriver tool into the screw head, making sure it fits securely.
  • Apply steady pressure and turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to loosen the screw.
  • To replace the screw, align it with the hole and use the screwdriver tool to turn it clockwise until it is secure.

Opening a letter:

  • Hold the letter securely with one hand, ensuring that your fingers are away from the area you will be cutting.
  • Use the tip of the pocketknife blade to carefully insert it into the edge of the envelope flap.
  • Apply gentle pressure and slide the blade along the edge, separating the flap from the envelope.
  • Be cautious not to cut too deeply or quickly to avoid damaging the contents of the letter.

By practicing these knife tasks, Bear Cub Scouts can develop their dexterity, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail. It is important to remember that these tasks should always be performed under adult supervision and in a safe environment. Encourage Scouts to respect the tools they are using and to handle them responsibly. With proper guidance and practice, they will become proficient in these knife tasks and gain a valuable set of skills that can be applied in various situations.

Bear Claws Den Meeting Plan

Bear Den Meeting Plan – Bear Claws: Pocketknife Safety and Soap Carving

This Bear den meeting plan provides a comprehensive guide for Bear Cub Scouts to complete the Bear Claws adventure. It not only covers the three requirements but also offers additional information on common pocketknife designs. By exploring these designs, Scouts can gain a deeper understanding of pocketknife safety and earn their Whittling Chip. The meeting plan also includes a section on carving items, specifically focusing on soap carvings. This hands-on activity allows Scouts to practice their knife skills while creating unique and personalized soap carvings. With this meeting plan, Bear Cub Scouts can develop their knowledge, skills, and creativity in a safe and engaging environment.

Safety Gloves

Safety gloves are an essential tool for novice carvers, as they can significantly reduce the risk of injury. When it comes to protecting small hands, these gloves for kids and teens are a great solution. These cut-resistant gloves are specifically designed to keep young carvers safe from cuts and scrapes. They are a comfortable option for young Cub Scouts. By wearing safety gloves, Bear Cub Scouts can confidently explore the art of carving while minimizing the chance of accidents.

Whittling Chip Card Corners

While there is a tradition in Scouting of removing corners from a Whittling Chip card as a consequence for unsafe knife use, it’s important to note that this is not a BSA policy. Each unit has the discretion to decide whether or not to implement this practice. In our unit, we have chosen not to use this policy. Instead, if a Scout is found using a knife in an unsafe manner, the card and sometimes the knife are temporarily taken away. The Scout can regain them once the rules have been reviewed and they agree to abide by them. It’s recommended for each unit to establish its own policy to ensure consistency in delivering the message to the youth.

Personalized Pocketknives

Personalized pocketknives make a thoughtful and memorable gift for Scouts who have successfully completed the Whittling Chip requirements. It’s a great way to celebrate their achievement and encourage their continued interest in knife safety and carving. These pocketknives can be customized with each Scout’s name, adding a personal touch that they will appreciate. Not only will they have a practical tool for future outdoor adventures, but they will also have a special keepsake to remind them of their accomplishment. Check out the link provided to explore the options for personalized pocketknives.

BSA Video Resources

BSA provides valuable video resources to support Scouts in completing the Bear Claws Cub Scout Adventure. These videos are designed to guide Scouts through the different requirements of the adventure. There are three videos available, each focusing on specific aspects of the adventure. The first video covers requirements 1 and 2, providing detailed instructions on pocketknives and the Whittling Chip. The second video specifically addresses requirement 3a, offering guidance on the carving items needed for the adventure. Lastly, the third video focuses on requirement 3b, providing step-by-step demonstrations of various knife tasks. These videos are a great tool to enhance Scouts’ understanding and ensure they complete the adventure safely and successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions for the Bear Claws Adventure

What is the Bear Claws adventure?

The Bear Claws adventure is one of the required adventures for Bear Scouts in the Cub Scouts program. It focuses on teaching Scouts about pocketknife safety and the art of whittling.

How do Scouts earn the Bear Claws adventure?

To earn the Bear Claws adventure, Scouts must complete the requirements outlined in the Bear Claws adventure handbook. These requirements include learning about pocketknife safety, obtaining their Whittling Chip, and completing various knife tasks.

What is the Whittling Chip?

The Whittling Chip is a card that signifies a Scout’s understanding of pocketknife safety and their ability to responsibly use a pocketknife. Scouts must earn their Whittling Chip before they can participate in knife-related activities.

Can Scouts use any pocketknife for the Bear Claws adventure?

Scouts should use a pocketknife that meets the guidelines set by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The BSA emphasizes choosing the right knife for the job and using it correctly and safely.

Are there any age restrictions for the Bear Claws adventure?

The Bear Claws adventure is designed for Bear Scouts, who are typically in the third grade or around 9 years old. However, it is important to consider the individual readiness and maturity of each Scout before allowing them to participate in knife-related activities.

What safety precautions should be taken during the Bear Claws adventure?

Safety is of utmost importance during the Bear Claws adventure. Leaders should ensure that Scouts are supervised at all times. Additionally, leaders should review and enforce the BSA’s pocketknife safety guidelines.

Can Scouts use their own carving items for the adventure?

Scouts may use their own carving items, such as soap or softwood, for the adventure. However, it is important to ensure that the materials are safe and appropriate for carving.

How can leaders support Scouts in completing the Bear Claws adventure?

Leaders can support Scouts by providing guidance, instruction, and supervision throughout the adventure. They can also organize den meetings focused on pocketknife safety and soap carving, as outlined in the Bear Den Meeting Plan.

Can Scouts work on the Bear Claws adventure individually or as a group?

Scouts can work on the Bear Claws adventure both individually and as a group.

Ready for Bear Claws

The Bear Claws adventure is an exciting and educational journey for Bear Scouts in the Cub Scouts program. Throughout this adventure, Scouts learn about pocketknife safety and the art of whittling, earning their Whittling Chip along the way.

In this adventure, Scouts explore the world of carving items, such as soap or softwood, and complete various knife tasks to demonstrate their skills and understanding of pocketknife safety. They also have the opportunity to personalize their pocketknives, adding a touch of creativity to their tools.

Safety is a top priority throughout the Bear Claws adventure. Scouts are encouraged to wear safety gloves while handling knives, and leaders provide guidance, instruction, and supervision to ensure a safe and enriching experience for all Scouts involved.

Leaders play a crucial role in supporting Scouts throughout this adventure. They can organize den meetings focused on pocketknife safety and soap carving, following the Bear Den Meeting Plan. Additionally, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) provides valuable video resources that offer step-by-step instructions and demonstrations for each requirement of the adventure.

By completing the Bear Claws adventure, Scouts not only gain valuable knowledge and skills in pocketknife safety and whittling but also develop a sense of responsibility and creativity. This adventure provides a foundation for Scouts to continue exploring the world of carving and craftsmanship.

In conclusion, the Bear Claws adventure is an engaging and educational experience that allows Bear Scouts to learn about pocketknife safety and the art of whittling. Through hands-on activities, Scouts earn their Whittling Chip and develop important skills while prioritizing safety. With the support of their leaders and the resources provided by the BSA, Scouts can have a positive and enriching experience throughout their Bear Claws adventure.


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