By Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director
Through my years in Scouting and working at Scout camps, I have learned that Scouts, sticks and knives just seem to go together. They seem inseparable. There is something special about creating something with wood. And carving seems to be the ultimate.
A few years ago I was the Camp Director of Camp Bartlett. Those were glorious days! When I had a rare few minutes to myself, I enjoyed working with wood. One summer I created a new cradle for the upcoming birth of a new daughter. I usually had only a couple of free hours each Saturday – after the Scouts had gone home – but I got out a small hand keyhole saw – the only saw I had at camp – and fashioned the beautiful cradle (which we used for several of our children).
And I also loved to carve on walking sticks. That action was therapeutic for me. It was fun to just get a stick and go sit out in the woods to carve. It was fun, too, to see the enthusiasm that the Scouts had as they found me carving. I could be anywhere on a remote log and within a few minutes I would have a couple of Scouts there on the log with me. We’d talk about my carving and then I would start to ask them about the camp. “So, what merit badges are you working on this week?” “How do you like …?” “Who is your favorite counselor …?” And it was amazing what I could find out about the camp. Using this method, I could learn about everything and a lot about my staff. And the staff was real frustrated. They wondered how I could know so much about what was going on. I didn’t let onto my secret. I carved a stick just for Camp Bartlett and it still brings me joy and memories today.
That carving tradition continues to today. While I was at the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp this past summer (in all of its wanderings), I enjoyed showing scouts and leaders some of my carved walking sticks. Everywhere I went, the boys were especially interested in them. They were all very intrigued with the carving process and the end result. I noted too, that still today, it appears that all scouts love to carve, carve, and carve sticks. In fact, they just love to use the knife and go for it – sometimes with nothing in mind. But, yet, they carve on. And Scout camp is a great place to do that. For at camp, Scouts can earn their “Totin’ Chip Award … that special card that opens up the world of knives and carving to every Scout. And sticks at camp … we all know that there is a plethora of sticks to be carved on while at camp. There is an ample supply for all.
Since everyone seemed to be really intrigued with my sticks and carving, I thought that you might enjoy reading a recent blog that I posted in the Voice of Scouting on the subject. Here is what I wrote: https://voiceofscouting.org/camp-scouts-sticks-knives
In the blog article, I share facts about how I got my carving start (as a Scout in the Woodcarving merit badge), my walking stick hobby and how I acquired my own carving knife. I’d also like to share of a knife tradition in my own family. Our son-in-law, J.D., brought this tradition to our family. For a couple of generations in his family, they have had the tradition of giving a knife to each son as he turns twelve. And it is just not just any old knife. It is the best of the “Old Timer” brand and in the grand “Old Timer” tradition. And it is a pretty cool tradition. (Read more about the Old Timer here: https://www.knife-depot.com/learn/old-timer-knives
Dad giving son his own “Old Timer” pocket knife
I have been a part of the family tradition as I have experienced it with three of the five sons (so far). At the 12th birthday celebration – as each son comes of age, the dad presents the son with his own new “Old Timer” knife with due pomp and ceremony (kind of like a “right of passage” deal). And I guess JD got the same knife from his dad when he turned twelve. Anyway, at each of these three presentations, the Stoddard grandpa has been present to assist with the knife presentation. So, it has been JD, his father, and each son who has already received his knife – all up there together. At this last ceremony, my own father – then age 88, was present. Was I ever surprised when he pulled his own “Old Timer” from his own pocket – and joined the presentation tradition. And knowing that I had a Scout whittling knife, they brought me up to be an “honorary Old Timer” (though I could have had the title based on age alone).
Stoddard family “Old Timer” Knife Tradition
It was a grand occasion and I was proud to be a part of it. And I am sure that the other two boys are counting down the days until they get their own knives. Maybe, too, I’ll have to invest in one of them “Old Timers” myself . It looks like an elite group!
Knives, boys (and men), sticks and carving. It just seems to be a “guy thing” that most of us have born in us. (But my wife is carving her first stick now … all that time in Scout camp is working on her brain – and her pocketknife!) Carving … Let’s keep doing it! Carve, carve, carve …
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevinthescoutblogger
See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger. Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.
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