Scouting Forums

Totin Chip and whittling chip

Scouting is cyclic in nature of all the tasks that are given, as things are forgotten or not completed to the level of detail. The scouting method is to train, learn, and repeat, and to train someone else this reinforces learning and safety. Military uses similar methods to take on very dangerous things like jumping out of airplanes. One year absence even for adults with vast experiance an exhaustive re-training is required prior to participating in jumping again. I have a two inch scar cut to the bone on my left index finger, where I made a simple mistake. Bottom line the only thing that extra train hinders is a bit of time, and what is time, when dealing with safety as when I was bleeding out all over my model table I wish I would have trained a bit harder.


Don’t beat your head on the wall with this one. Let your good judgment be your guide, and keep it simple. Here are some principles.

  1. Totin Chip is an award. (As is Firem’n Chit.) It is not an advancement requirement. Nowhere will you find a requirement for a Scout to earn the Totin Chip in order to earn advancement. (Heresy!!!) Totin Chip is a program element you may choose to use in your unit. If you choose to use it, you need to figure out how to implement it.

  2. If a Scout has his Whittling Chip, you (the Unit Leader) decide whether to accept that as good enough for a Scout to carry and use a pocket knife. By the reasoning given above, if a Scout earns his Totin’ Chip at 11 years old, does he, too, not forget the rules by the time he is 15?

  3. Always ask, and find the answer to this question: “What does the Scout Handbook say?” Use this as your guide and you will not go wrong. You will find no prohibition on using woods tools without a Totin Chip. Again…it is a program element which you may choose to use in your unit.

My two cents: Whittling Chip is OK for pocketknife use. New Scouts who did not earn it as Cubs must review pocketknife safety and get it signed off for Scout rank before they can use a pocketknife. Saw and axe can only be used independently by those who have completed that requirement for Tenderfoot.

Scouter Rob

P.S. Elisha, you will hear lots of noise out there…two of the worst statements are “That’s the way we have always done it!” and “That’s what I was taught!” These two are the enemy of common sense and good judgement. Are you really going to tell the 17 year old Eagle Scout who is about to teach the new Scouts a class on woods tools that he cannot do it now because he forgot to bring his Totin Chip card?

P.P.S. Cyber Chip is an award required for advancement.


Thanks for that advice, Robert!

1 Like

I am just curious, are you against the extra safety training. I work in the oil industry, we are required to do safety refreshers every year on many topics. I understand it may be a little inconvenient, but demonstrating you understand safety requirements. Do you feel the same way about the Youth Pamphlet or the Cyber Chip that is required to be completed every year?

Not against refresher courses at all. I work in a very industrial facility myself and take safety courses like crazy. We have very strict guidelines. There should be some carry over with a pocketknife. Throw all the refresher courses you want in there but don’t yank their privileges just because they advanced into a higher rank program.

Demonstrating pocketknife safety is part of the Scout rank anyway.

1 Like

Maybe BSA could allow the whittling chip to carry over with an expiration date.

Showing knowledge of pocket knife safety can be done at any time after the Scout joins a troop. Most of my new Scouts complete it at their first or second meeting. At the same time the rest of the Totin’ Chip requirements are completed. If they don’t earn their Totin’ Chip before the first campout, they earn it at that first campout.

On a troop outing, it is a troop rule. This your troop and mine may have different rules regarding carting a pocket knife. Many troops allegedly cut a corner off the tote’n chip for violations of rules, or any cut. Mine doesn’t.

I’m my troop, we aim to have all cross overs checked off on their Scout tank requirements quickly. Once the older scouts check off the pocket knife safety, they are good to go. But that is my troop. I am sure some will believe I am “doing it wrong”.

As a note, we teach a different style of safety as well. Instead on blood circles, we evaluate where the knife will go. And we emphasize elbows on knees as a general rule preventing anything too wild.

Whittling Chip is a Cub Scout award and only to be used in Cub Scouts. When your child crosses over to Boy Scouts they will not be allowed to use their pocketknife until they earn the Totin Chip.

1 Like

Yes we know this is the BSA rule,David. My friends and I are arguing that it should carry over. I’m just the one getting the online feedback. I’m willing to bet BSA would change it if enough people spoke up about it.

They might, they might not. I hope they do not because “Whittlin’ Chip” and “Totin’ Chip” are different awards.

I’d rather the troop teach “Totin’ Chip” to their new recruits in their fast start program. That way they don’t have to worry about just having “supervised select events” rights to use a knife, but have discretion to use and carry a knife, saw, and ax.

They are not only “awards” but also “safety programs” – these programs are under the supervision of the unit leaders. Even in small and “joined” units it is rare that the Cubmaster and Scoutmaster are the same person, so the Scoutmaster needs to ensure that scouts have been fully trained in the safety program for Totin’ Chip… and Whittlin’ Chip (cool though it is) just doesn’t cut it.


If you want to change the requirements/rule, I would start with your unit commissioner.

I don’t think the rule should change, but I’m not against discussing it!

The difference (in my opinion) is in the activities the pocket knife will be used for. Boy Scouts will be using that tool more frequently and for somewhat different chores. Personally, I think of it as a “basic” and “advanced” type of class. It also allows a different set of leaders to be assured of the skills and abilities of the youth. In my ‘younger days’ we were requested to ‘renew’ our Tote-N-Chip if we moved to a different troop, or especially if we moved into a different council. Above all else, safety classes are never a waste of time.


“That’s the way we have always done it!” and “That’s what I was taught!” These two are the enemy of common sense and good judgement" …….I have always believed that safety rules are written from someone’s grief and pain. After 20+ years of working with hazardous chemicals with a perfect safety record I can assure you that there is nothing ‘common’ about sense. grin People WILL do the silliest things at times. I will repeat my other observation; Another safety class is never wasted. That doesn’t preclude examining safety rules for a change, it just means you need to think very carefully about that change.


TotinChip also covers axes and saws. As a Scout Leader, I prefer to review the requirements with new Scouts as I am responsible for their safety. It doesn’t take long to demonstrate the skills.


Correct, it does NOT carry over. The Totin’Chip covers so much more then just basic knife safety for a scout to be able to carry a pocket knife to scout activities. It covers knives, hatchets, saws, and axes.


the totin chip and whittlin chip are for two different programs. There is no carry over from cubs to scouts bsa in this matter. the scout needs to earn his/her knife privileges for each program.

1 Like


Going back through this here is my take. You have every right and perhaps responsibility to help your Cubs navigate into a troop that fits them. I would encourage you to engage with the SMs and find their take.

I saw one who said their cross overs have the Tot’n Chip before the first campout. My troop can’t make that claim. We typically cover the Tot’n Chip at the first campout that this can be done. (But it is a priority.) Then again, my take on the knife use is that the new scout have completed the knife safety requirement for Scout. And this happens at an early meeting or the first morning of the first campout.

I would encourage people to find the troop that fits. Some don’t have an issue with heavy handed rules from the adults. As SM I try to be as light as I can. But, I require scouts to be familiar with our troop’s safety practice before knife use. Our rules come from my brother who was a long term SM in another state. I happen to like them and believe in them.

My scouts know the rules, and they teach the rules. I want my troop to be very similar to what I experienced in scouting myself. First, scouts taught me and sometimes a different one checked out my learning. Next, I taught scouts and another scout checked out my teaching. The next step was that I taught and reported back when the requirements were complete. Then I was the scout checking the work of other scouts learning to teach.

I can honestly think of no better place then safety for this to happen. I also firmly believe that a joy of scouting is to sometimes sit and make wood shavings. I want scouts doing this as early as possible. Clearly you are of like mind. So help your Cubs move to troops that support that mantra.

I would not consider that any more confusing than the fact that what they do in Cubs for the first responder does not qualify them for Scouts BSA first aid requirements, or that Cub camping nights do not count toward Scouts BSA camping merit badge.
I agree with JohnJeter that it should be looked at as a foundation, not as already having done the more advanced skills needed for the Tote-N-Chip.