Scouting Forums

Carrying totin' chit and firem'n chit cards

I am trying to find out if there is an official policy about scouts having to carry their earned totin’ chit and firem’n chit cards with them to work with knives\saws\axes and starting\managing fires. I cannot find an official policy on this.

From my own experiences both as a scout and as a leader, I have been told you need to carry these cards at all times on scouting events once they are earned and the patches on the uniform do not count. This is to show responsibility and it is like a driver’s license, you may not need to show it but you need to have it on your person.

There’s no requirement for a Scout to actually carry the card on their person. We encourage it, but also understand that, since most of our boys earn it at 11 or 12, it will most likely be forgotten in a pocket and washed into a little wad of paper the next time Mom washes the uniform shirt.


That doesn’t really promote responsibility then if there isn’t a requirement to have to carry these cards and how do you verify that a scout has completed the requirements for these privileges.

And in the example given, why not require the scout to contact their scoutmaster to get a new card before they can do the use these privileges again?

Our troop is small enough that we generally know who has and hasn’t earned it, but at summer camp, those who wanted to purchase knives had to show it at the trading post. If they didn’t bring it with them they had to spend the time at the class to get a new one before they were allowed to purchase a knife.


Our troop requires each boy to carry them on their person anytime they use a knife and fire marshal. We found that this ensured the boys were mindful of when they had the training and it helped our new leaders & adults know who was trained.

I don’t think there’s anything required for totin’ chip or firem’n chit that isn’t also required to advance past Second Class.

I don’t know about firem’n chit, since I honestly don’t remember it from when I was a scout, but totin’ chit, part of the idea is that they they lose a corner for each violation, and once all 4 corners are gone they have to repeat the course to get the privilege back. It doesn’t stand in perpetuity the way a rank does. For this to work they have to have the physical card, not proof of the previous course, or a rank that covers the material.

That said, I agree that I think I may have seen mine once. After that it was lost in a desk drawer or, as you said, washed and dried into oblivion. It was never a big deal to actually have it on us.

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There is no official policy that says Scouts lose a corner when they violate a safety rule. That is a tradition used by some, not all, troops.


@MatthewWalters1, while I was a Scoutmaster, I never cut corners off Totin’ Chip cards. I simply took it away, and the Scout had to re-earn Totin’ Chip. I had two reasons for doing so.

The first, far less important, reason was that cutting corners off a card could lead to hazing. I did not want any Scouts being teased that they had already lost two or three corners.

The second, far more important, reason was that safety to is be taken seriously. Cutting a corner off the card for a violation is like saying you get three free passes to be careless. I don’t think there should be any free passes. That isn’t to say I took cards away frequently. When a matter came to my attention, I gave the Scout an opportunity to explain, and then I made a judgement call. None of us are perfect, and if I felt the Scout could continue using tools safely, I ended it there. However, if that first violation showed recklessness or carelessness, I was glad that the Scouts were all aware that all it took was one violation to get your card taken away. I wasn’t stuck with cutting a corner off and waiting for the Scout to be careless again.

As a Scout, my troop did cut off corners. I still have my Totin’ Chip card from 1977, with all four corners intact.


I can’t see how taking the card is any less prone to hazing than cutting corners. I’ll say point taken though, to both of you, on the corner cutting not being official BSA policy.

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@MatthewWalters1, once you take away the card, it is over and done with. The Scouts immediately recognize the seriousness. That was my experience during my time as an SM.

If it was an older Scout who lost his card, I generally had him conduct Totin’ Chip instruction. Having a 15- or 16-year-old sit in front of a 13-year-old to be taught is unnecessarily humiliating,

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