You will need
Before you begin
- Everyone should know what to do if an accident happens. It might be best to plan a session on emergency aid before this activity, or include a starter activity or base that focuses on first aid.
- Make sure you’re familiar with the latest law and guidance around carrying knives, Scouts’ safety advice, and Scout Adventures’ guidance on training others in tool use. You need a good knowledge of how to safely store, maintain, use, and transport all of the tools you’re using. Check out the guidance from Victorinox and, if you need to, ask for help in advance.
- Plan a maximum time people are allowed to use a tool for to avoid lapses in concentration. For example, 15 minutes.
- It’s up to you exactly which tools you include in this activity – choose the ones you use most. Many groups may include hand axes, bow saws, pocket knives, and fixed blade knives. You may also want to cover mallets, spades, augers, and peelers.
- Whether the tools are stored in your meeting place or belong to someone in the group, you should have a fail-safe way to count them out and in. Make sure they’re back in their place or with their owner at the end of a session.
- You may need more adults than usual, so you can have a greater ratio of adults to young people.
- Make sure parents and carers are aware you’re planning a session on tool safety, including using knives. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have. You may need to plan an alternative activity for anyone who’s not allowed to (or doesn’t want to) take part in practical activities using tools. You could focus on other aspects of the Scouts Outdoor Challenge Award, or work towards the Scouts Survival Skills Activity Badge.
Move around bases
- Everyone should split into small groups.
- Each group should go to a different base and get stuck into the activity.
- When the person leading the activity makes a signal, each group should move to the next base.
- Everyone should continue moving between bases at the signal, until they’ve been to all of the bases.
Practise makes perfect
Scout Adventures recommends introducing a challenge that lets people practise using all of the tools they’ve been talking about in the session. Their resource, Teaching others axes and saws, has an example.
Everyone could prepare wood for backwards cooking, for example. This could involve breaking down fallen tree branches and separating wood into firewood and wood used for campsite gadgets and utensils before preparing it. Preparation could include breaking down, stripping, and sharpening pieces of wood using hand axes, bow saws, and pocket knives.
This activity was all about being independent. Before people get stuck into using tools for themselves, they need to be able to plan, prepare, and keep themselves safe. What sorts of things did people learn to do for themselves in this activity? Whose responsibility is it to make sure that things are safe? How did people feel when they learned to use tools for themselves? Maybe some people felt proud, or worried. Do people often get the chance to achieve things for themselves?
This activity was also about developing skills. What practical skills did people develop in this activity? What other skills did they develop? People might think about things like planning and considering the consequences of their actions. What other skills would people like to develop as a group? They may want to think about other skills that would be hard to practise on their own or at home, or skills that would help them to be more independent on a night away.
- Sharp objects
Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.