BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

Scouting Forums

Totin' Chip requirements

Hello,

Are there any online resources I can lookup to find requirements and more specific guidelines for Totin’ Chip certification?

I am looking for information beyond what is available in The Boy Scout Handbook.

Thank you,

Michael

Hi, @MichaelMarx2,

There are a wide variety of Totin’ Chip related resources out on the web, just a Google search away. No official teaching syllabus of which I am aware, however. That said, I’m not sure what “requirements and more specific guidelines” you’re looking for. Referring to the 13th edition of the handbook (what I have on hand), page 386 says:

  1. Read and understand woods tools use and safety rules from the Boy Scout Handbook
  2. Demonstrate proper handling, care and use of the pocketknife, ax, and saw.
  3. Use knives, axes and saws as tools, not playthings, and only when you are able to give them your full attention.
  4. Respect all safety rules to protect others.
  5. Respect property. Cut living and dead trees only with permission from the landowner and with good reason.
  6. Subscribe to the Outdoor Code.

Everything that the Scout needs to know to earn the Totin Chip is on that list and in the book.

It seems like Requirement #1 specifically tells the scout what rules he or she is to read and understand in order to earn the Totin’ Chip. They’re covered on pages 378-387 of the Handbook.

Requirement #2 has the scout demonstrate what they’ve learned.

Requirements #3 and #4 reinforce that the safety rules are to be followed at all times, and that the scout should be focused on the task at hand when using potentially dangerous tools.

Requirements #5 and #6 seem focused on the ethics of woods tools use.

When reviewing a scout for the Totin’ Chip, I make sure that he is familiar enough with all of the use and safety rules that he doesn’t need me to remind him, nor does he need to refer to his handbook to figure something out. Similarly, I want him to be able to demonstrate how to properly care for his tools without having to look it up.

That’s not to say that he’ll never have to review it again. I make sure I review what’s in the handbook before I go over it with a scout, even though I’ve been at this for many decades now. I always remind the scouts that using their skills keeps them fresh, and that if it’s been a little while since they’ve used a particular tool, asking for a refresher isn’t an admission of ignorance, it’s demonstrating responsibility.

For #3, #4, and #5, I ask the scout how he would apply the rules he has learned in different scenarios (e.g. downed tree across a trail, small campsite with limited open area for a chopping yard, trying to prepare tinder, kindling and fuelwood for a campfire while various other scouts are hopping around begging to start the fire) to maintain safety and respect property. I’m looking to see if he has thought about how he would apply those rules, not just given them a smile and a nod. I realize this might be stretching the requirements a bit, since they are strictly directing behavior on the part of the scout, rather than a test by the reviewer, but I don’t want the first time we realize that a scout doesn’t understand how to ensure a safe clear space when chopping with an ax to be when it sprouts from the forehead of another scout.

Generally, for #6 I ask the scout to go over (not recite from memory) the Outdoor Code and ask him (I’m only associated with a boys’ troop at this time) to explain how each part is applicable to tools use, if it is. I often find I learn something in the process. I then ask him if he’s willing to commit to the principles of the Outdoor Code when using the tools. It’s not so much about adding a requirement in regard to the explanation, since the only thing I’m looking for is whether or not the scout commits to the Outdoor Code. Rather, I want the scout to understand what it is that he’s committing to when he agrees.

2 Likes

Here is a link to the requirements. They are also available in Scoutbook.

https://www.scouting.org/awards/awards-central/totin-chip/

1 Like

Thank you Charley and Jennifer.

I am specifically looking for more details on what ‘all safety rules’ are (requirement # 4). Does the scout code have specific ‘safety rules’ or does each troop decide on these by themsleves.

Thank you,

Michael

The handbook has a series of text boxes that are titled “Safe Knife Use”, “Safe Saw Use” and “Safe Ax Use”. In addition, there are sections titled “Safe _____” on pages 384-385 regarding axes. I’m not sure what in addition to those rules you’re thinking might be needed.

1 Like

Thank you very much Charley!

I didn’t notice this before. This is exactly what I was looking for.

I have a related question. Under what circumstances would you take away the Totin’ Chip from a scout and require that they take the training again?

Thank you,

Michael

So far, I’ve only had to do it once, and it was a safety violation that fell under the heading of a near-miss incident. The scout was not paying attention to what was going on around him, hadn’t made an effort to ensure a safe working space, was horsing around and nearly stabbed another scout with his knife.

Generally, a discussion with the scout that opens with “Stop! So…which Totin’ Chip safety rule were you just violating?” is enough to get them squared away. Persistent offenders might warrant removal and retraining. Ultimately, I believe it’s a question of what the leadership considers a serious enough safety violation to warrant removal. I’d caucus with the other leaders in your unit and get on the same page. A united front works best when enforcing safety rules. I find that the youth leaders are a lot less tolerant of their colleagues antics than the adults are prone to be.

1 Like

Thank you very much Charley!

This is all super helpful.

Michael

We’ve had it happen a few times. It’s always been safety-related – usually for Scouts that repeatedly ignore safety rules, or for Scouts that make egregiously poor judgement calls about safety. We also do the “clipped corner” thing for smaller issues, where taking the totin’ chip immediately might be an over-reaction. Four clipped corners for any reason, and the scout has to re-do the training with one of the ASMs.

Reasons for a clipped corner:

  • Entering the ax yard without permission
  • Failing to check your blood circle
  • Not using appropriate safety equipment in the ax yard
  • Failing to put tools away
  • etc.

The only time recently we immediately took a totin’ chip away was when a scout was running with an open pocket knife… That cost him his totin’ chip and his pocket knife for the rest of summer camp, and he got to spend his free time re-learning all the ax yard training.

2 Likes

@MichaelMarx2, the Totin’ Chip award and the authorization to use a knife, axe, or saw, are 2 separate topics. The award, once earned can not e taken away, and more that you can take away the Second Class. The authorization to carry and use a knife, saw, or axe, is something that can be taken away for not following the safety guidelines. I have had to do that before for the remainder of Summer Camp. He had to have a parent come in to explain why I was holding the knife, and we agreed on the course of action needed to be able to bring it to a Scouting function again.

I don’t see how they’re two separate topics. The Totin’ Chip isn’t an award or a rank, it’s a certification that grants the scout the right to carry and use woods tools. Like any other certification, it can be revoked if the scout fails to behave responsibly with those tools.

Info from BSA Totin’ Chip page.

3 Likes

I have a great lesson plan to take care of this. A SPL or PL can do this but recommend CLOSE supervision and reinforcement of ASM OR SMTotin’ Chip Syllabus.pdf (874.9 KB)

Nice job with this reply… Cudos to you sir! You even validated your response with the BSA webpage concerning this very topic.

Totin’ Chip Syllabus.pdf (874.9 KB)

Thank you very much Anthony. This is great!!!

Is this something your troop (or you) put together or is this an official BSA syllabus?

If you put it together I would be interested in knowing what other syllabi you have. Is this or other syllabi available online?

I like that it emphasizes the Do’s and the Don’t for each tool and that it has quizzes.

I appreciate this very much!

Michael

Interestingly enough, BSA has changed their policy on this. The clipped corner now falls into the category of “hazing” or shaming, so they ask that we either give a warning or take the Chip away entirely so that when it is re-earned, there is no evidence of the original offence or warning. Clipping the corner can’t be undone and then sticks with the scout “forever”.

1 Like

Can you post a link to this policy? I have seen it for the Whittling Chip (in the BALOO instructor syllabus), but not the Totin’ Chip. The syllabus does not mention hazing or shaming as the rationale behind it, just that the certificate needs to stay as a complete unit.

1 Like

I’m sorry I don’t have an official link. We were told this when I took IOLS last spring.

OK, I do not see any mention of it in the current IOLS Instructor Syllabus.

Interesting, perhaps that was a local council decision?