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There is still a place for a penknife in scouting, especially at camps. So some scouts have penknives, others do not.

Within Aquila, we have a few penknives, which can be used by scouts withoutr their own, on the occasional time we need them.

What makes a good penknife?  Mainly concentrate on the main blade. All the other things are rarely used or useful. Although scouts may feel a load of tools on the penknife is great, they add to the cost and may mean a lousy blade for the money. Extras also add to the risk of "playing", "showing off" the penknife. Possibly the best penknife has just one blade and nothing else. It might be better to have a separate "multitool" with the other bits.

The blade must be shorter than 7.5 cm to fit within the rules and UK LAW. However, if too small a blade or handle, this makes the penknife difficult to use.

Also check that the penknife can be easily - and safely - opened and closed.

Cheap knives cannot be kept sharp and this is less safe.

Clean and sharp. Penknives should be kept sharp and clean. Aquila has sharpening equipment available at camps. Dirt will make the penknife difficult to open (danger) as well as potentially causing damage.


It is a useful tool, but a terrible toy.

We have a knife safety test: scouts must show they can use a knife properly and safely before they may use them at scouts. Some parents will only let scouts have their own knife, once that test is passed successfully.

Of course, the UK has strict knife laws and the UK Scout Association has its own laws. (note that we are not experts and points about UK Law should be checked)

The bottom line is that small folding knives (penknives) are allowed within scouting, but must NOT be carried "on the person". They must be kept in the scout's pack to, from and during a camp, except when in use.

Aquila has a zero tolerance to misuse.