Along with a box of matches and a piece of string, they've always been an essential part of a Scout's kit.
But now penknives are going to be restricted on scouting trips as a seemingly innocent tradition succumbs to concerns over the nation's blade culture.
The Scout Association is advising boys and their parents that they should not bring such knives to camp - despite it being legal for anyone to carry a foldable, nonlocking blade in a public place as long as it is shorter than 3ins.
Scouts have been taught to carry knives and have used them to cut firewood, prepare food or carve tools ever since Lord Baden-Powell founded the movement more than a century ago.
But in a recent edition of their official in-house magazine, Scouting, they are advised that neither they nor their parents should bring penknives to camp.
Knife-maker Dave Budd, who runs courses training Scouts about the safe use of blades from his base on Dartmoor, Devon, said the rise in knife crime - up 50 per cent in just one year - demanded ' clarification' of the guidance.
He wrote: 'The series of high-profile fatal stabbings highlighted a growing knife culture in the UK. Now the general public is unsure of the law on knives.
'Scouts often have the need for a good knife, and in the early days every Scout was actively encouraged to put a knife on their belt. Sadly, there is now confusion about when a Scout is allowed to carry a knife.
'I think it is safest to assume that knives of any sort should not be carried by anybody to a Scout meeting or camp, unless there is likely to be a specific need for one. In that case, they should be kept by the Scout leaders and handed out as required.'
He adds that 'campsites are considered public places and so knives are not to be carried'.
Last night a Scouts spokesman defended its policy, saying: ‘The Scout Association plays a key role in helping young people develop the confidence, maturity and self-esteem they need to play active and responsible roles in their communities, and to resist the peer pressure that may attract them into local gang culture.
‘We believe that young people need more places to go after school and at weekends, where they can experience adventure without the threat of violence or bullying and the need to carry weapons.
‘Scouting helps to prepare young people with valuable life skills, while keeping them safe by not carrying knives.’ [emphasis added]
Article here. So sad.