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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.

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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.

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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,


I would point out that the use and administration of these tools is a unit decision. I have seen very few units make much use of the Firem’n Chip.

My unit is small enough and I know who hasn’t had training yet. Also, that is a huge emphasis when we get new scouts.

I look for teachable moments and when there has been mi or cuts, we had some discussion of where things went wrong.

Fortunately we have only had one serious case of misuse. In that case my SPL handled the situation by taking the scout’s knives. He gave them to me when I came back to camp. Mostly my scouts do a great job of self policing though we keep an eye out when an ax is being swung.


No official policy from the BSA but Troops are allowed to decide on their own if a Scout is required. A lot of Scouts sew the Tot’nChip Badge and Fire’nChit badge onto their sashes on the back. As for carrying the cards, up to the Troop - I still have both of mine from when I was `16 years old and show them to my Scouts all the time.

I know a lot of micro managing SMs will say to develop responsibility they must have the card on them even if they are a Eagle Scout. Well, if that was the case 99% of the time the SM would me doing all of the wood splitting. As a SM I dont have time to run around checking on those stupid cards.


You could build a board similar to the swimming buddy tag board and make the scout post their chip before entering the ax yard. Or we can treat them like young adults, teach them and enable them.


“Or we can treat them like young adults…” AMEN


One thing I like to add is truefully how many of the adults keep there wallets with them on camp trips. ( yes most likely we start out with them either because we are driving or have the troop checkbook or credit card for expenses, ) it if you are like me once we get to the campsight it stays in the truck.

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I’m the opposite. Unless I’m going to be in the water, my wallet, my keys, my phone, and my knives are on me at all times. I don’t like having to go look for my things when i need them.


I think it’s about: what problem are you trying to solve?

My son’s & daughter’s troops so far haven’t had any issues with fire or knives, etc. and don’t require scouts to have these chits on them. Getting this in to place in either troop will take a chunk of work both from the adults and the scouts, with little benefit.

That said, I can see if it has become a problem for a particular troop, it could be a worthwhile intervention, or a motivation and thus worth the overhead of keeping track.


I think it’s about: what problem are you trying to solve?

And this is really what should drive the entire experience. If your not solving a problem, you might be creating one to solve. I say focus on the four aims of scouting.

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