Bear Claws

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

This Bear den meeting plan covers most of the three requirements for the Bear Claws adventure. Bear Claws is all about pocketknives and whittling. After this plan, the Cub Scouts will need to carve an additional item. You could add a second meeting to cover this, or have them carve something at home and bring it in, or add this activity into another meeting which has some extra time.

At this meeting, Bears will learn about basic pocketknife safety and will carve an item from soap. For their second item, encourage them to try wood. You can find some suitable wood blocks at your local craft shop. Send these home with them and they can bring the second item they carved to your next meeting.

For the safety part of this meeting, you can use a fake pocketknife. Making the fake knives is a good gathering activity.

Bear Den Meeting Plan – Bear Claws: Pocketknife Safety


Each Scout will need a pocketknife and either a block of wood or a bar of soap to carve. The pocketknives should be held by the leader until they are ready to use them. You will also need

  • a knife sharpening stone
  • blank Whittlin’ Chip cards (available at your Scout shop)
  • Printouts for the Pocketknife safety quiz  and a copy of the answers
  • Materials for fake pocketknives 
  • Wood or soap for carving
  • if you are carving indoors, you might want to have some drop cloths to put under the Scouts while they carve.

Gathering Activity

Make fake pocketknives. There is also a very short quiz in the Bear Den Leader’s Guide which you can have them take.


Adventure requirement 1: Learn about three common designs of pocketknives.

Show the Bears the different types of pocketknives.  These are

  • Jackknife – This type of knife only has a hinge on one end. Usually these have one blade on the hinge, or sometimes two.
  • Penknife – A penknife has hinges at both ends and typically has one or two blades on each hinge.
  • Multipurpose Knife – These knives usually have hinges at both ends and all sorts of gadgets. They can have several blades, scissors, can opener, punch, screwdriver, and more.

The Bear handbook shows pictures of each type of knife, but it would be even better if you can have each type on hand at the meeting for them to look at.

Adventure requirement 2: Learn knife safety and earn your Whittling Chip.

Start by reviewing the safety rules listed in the Bear handbook. Key points include:

  • A knife is not a toy.
  • Keep your knife in good condition, including keeping it clean and sharp.
  • Use proper technique when opening, closing, and carving with the knife.
  • Be aware of those around you. Don’t use your knife if somebody else is in your safety circle. (AKA “blood circle” 🙂 )
  • Know how to safely hand a knife to another person.
  • Only use your knife in the appropriate places and on appropriate items.

They can practice some of these with their fake knives.

Show them how to sharpen a knife.

Then they should all recite the Pocketknife Pledge, which is in the Bear handbook.

To emphasize what they learned, you can have them take the Pocketknife Safety Quiz . Review any incorrect answers. (Pocketknife Safety Quiz Answers )

Give them each a Whittlin’ Chip card.

Finally, have them make a soap carving for half of Requirement 3

Adventure requirement 3. Using a pocketknife, carve two items.

Character Compass

Remember to tie in your activities with the Scout Law.

A Scout is Obedient. Rules help keep us safe. Remind them to follow the rules to prevent injury to themselves or other people.

A Scout is Trustworthy. Having a pocket knife is a big responsibility. By using the knife in an appropriate manner, they demonstrate that they can be trusted to own a knife.

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

  1. Kristen February 16, 2017 at 7:53 AM #

    Knowing little myself about pocketknives, I called our local Carpentry Union Hall and arranged a tour and demonstration. The trainees and teachers alike at the Union were pleased to have us. The boys learned about tools, their knives, types of woods and had an adventure.

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