About Knives at Camp

About Knives at Camp


Some people ask us why we would ask kids to bring “weapons” to camp. We are very clear that knives are not weapons, they are tools. At Whole Earth Nature School we take knife safety very seriously. Carving is an important skill to learn and must be treated with respect. Any student who participates in knife work at Whole Earth Nature School must first participate in a discussion about knife safety. After that discussion there will be no more “warnings” about safe behavior. If a student behaves in an unsafe manner with a knife we will confiscate that knife until the end of the program day. Here is a brief overview of our basic Five Knife Safety Rules:

  1. A sharp knife is a safe knife. Dull knives are dangerous.
  2. You must stay seated while using a knife.
  3. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a safe zone (“blood circle”) around any person using a knife.
  4. Always cut away from all body parts.
  5. If a knife is not in your hand and in use, it must stay folded or in its sheath.

Additionally, here are a few valuable reminders about common ways that people tend to cut themselves:

  • Many cuts happen when people get distracted talking to a friend etc. If you need to look away from your work for a moment always remember to stop your carving before turning your attention away.
  • Another way that we often see cuts occur is when removing a knife from its sheath. When unsheathing a knife always be sure to loosen it before pulling rather than simply jerking it out of the sheath. And be sure that all fingers on your sheath hand are out of the path of the blade before removing the blade.
  • Be sure to choose a knife that has a fixed blade or a locking blade. Swiss army style knives and other similar tools are unsuitable for most carving tasks because of the ease with which the blade can close on your fingers unexpectedly.

Here are some more tips on choosing a safe knife: