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  • Totin Chip Policy

    Hey guys, I recently cut my finger while sharpening a tomahawk, at home. It did break the skin, but did not cause any major damage. My father is the Scoutmaster of my troop, and he saw my cut. I had to explain what happened, and he took 3 corners off of my totin chip. Keep in mind, these events were not at scouting functions, all at home. This was also the first and only time that I have lost any corners off any card. Do you think that Scoutmasters have the authority to take corners off at non scouting events?

  • #2
    Two things:

    1) The Totin' Chip is about learning the safe handling of blades, whether in a scouting event or not. So yes, you can loose the corners even at non scouting events.

    2) He is your father - that means he has the authority to take away your knife, your favorite t-shirt or your Totin' Chip card. He also has the authority to ground you, take your TV privileges away, praise you, reward you, feed you cake, buy you shoes, love you, worry about you; and yes, even cut a few corners off the Totin' Chip card when you make a mistake.

    Be very glad you have a father that cares enough to do so. You are actually a lucky kid. Even if it doesn't feel like it.
    Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 06-06-2013, 08:15 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo.


    • #3
      Welcome to the forums! Hope you keep coming back to set us old farts straight! SM's kids have it tough. But, stupid happens quickly (as you just found out), and he's just trying to get you to slow it down a little. On the bright side, he left you one corner. So, read the card again make a mental note of which points you ignored, then don't do those, and you'll probably never have to worry about it again.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Pardon me for not answering your question. Do SMs have far reaching authority? Well a lot of my youth are older and are my FB friends. I call them on every cuss word and abbreviation thereof.
        Some were indignant until I pointed out that they have every right to call me on cussing as well.

    • #4
      Dad out rules SM......

      So for Dad to take such drastic musta been a great wound.....

      From the sound of it, your lucky he didn't take all of your knives and hawks.


      • #5
        Under what circumstances did you cut your finger? Were you being careless, or was it simply an accident? Accidents happen, and they shouldn't be punished--that's why they're called accidents. If the cut was a result of carelessness, that's different. That covers the "should you have been punished" segment of your question.

        As for whether or not he should have cut corners off your Totin' Chip due to a non-scout incident: No. At scout functions he's your Scoutmaster, not your dad. At home he's your dad, not your Scoutmaster. If punishment was warranted, it should have been within the same context as the incident, which is your home life, not Scouting. Your dad needs to ask himself whether he would take any other boy's corners if they came in and told him they accidentally cut their finger while cooking dinner at home.
        Last edited by Scouter99; 06-06-2013, 10:22 PM.


        • #6
          I would like to see written BSA policy about the meaning of cut off corners. What does cutting off a corner mean ? It means nothing. Your Dad/SM is making up rules. Does he have the authority as a father yes, as a SM NO! Cut of corners mean nothing. Correcting a scout who makes a mistake means everything. Corner cutting is not BSA policy. Please show me I am wrong.


          • packsaddle
            packsaddle commented
            Editing a comment
            It seems to be a popular local tradition. I've seen this practice in numerous troops. But it is essentially a troop practice. This unit does not employ the practice.

            For us, a single infraction like the one mentioned in the OP gets a complete retraining exercise and perhaps an additional mandate to train someone else as well. The boys observe this and usually take great pains to avoid being the next guy who has to go through all that again. It works for us.

          • qwazse
            qwazse commented
            Editing a comment
            The tradition seems to be popular in our neck of the woods; however, we adults never do the corner tearing. We may have the boy (once the wound is patched) report to his PL or SPL to discuss the matter. It's up to the youth leader to decide how to deal with it. Long before crises like this, we give our 1st class scouts general guidelines on how to issue "negative reinforcement" ... sort of along these lines:

            The point of any negative reinforcement is to impose a pattern of forethought on an otherwise entrenched action. So, in general:

            1. Think about if the scout has been showing a pattern of carelessness and needs a reminder.
            2.a. If there's a pattern, apply negative reinforcement (in this case, cut a corner) by explaining what needs to change, telling him that you think he can change, and hoping that this is the last time you need to address this.
            2.b. If there's no pattern, ask him if he understood what went wrong. Can he explain how he will do things differently? If he does this, negative reinforcement is unnecessary and would probably be ineffective.
            3. Let the boy know that you are always available to help him improve his skills. Be humble, maybe by saying "It wouldn't hurt me to practice that with you too!"

            I haven't heard of any scouts getting their Totin Chip torn for years. Neither has son #2 (just asked him). The kids who've injured themselves have generally fallen under 2b and never repeated their actions. Their nicked finger was sufficient negative reinforcement.
            Last edited by qwazse; 06-08-2013, 02:45 PM.

        • #7
          Hey Bradley, you must have been doing a great job sharpening that axe to cut yourself. Anyway, have you ever heard the expression the glass is half full (versus half empty)? You still have one corner left, how many do you need? Here's what I'd suggest. Go back and figure out exactly why you cut yourself. There's another old saying, accidents don't happen, they are caused. So figure out what caused you to cut yourself. Just a guess, but were you wearing gloves while sharpening the axe? I've found that you need the right file to sharpen an axe. I prefer a single cut, fine file. It also has to be sharp. Yes, files get dull. So figure out exactly what you did wrong and go over everything else you should have learned the first time. Then go talk to your SM and tell him you figured out what you did wrong and that you'd like to try again and do it right. Show him that you know how to do it right. Once you've done that, and assuming he tells you you did a good job, ask him if he'll give you a new card. Timing is important. Anyway, one of two things will happen. 1) He'll give you a new card and you're good to go. 2) He won't. But that doesn't matter because you'll never make that mistake again and that one corner will get you through to your Eagle Court of Honor, where you can give it back to your dad. I promise you, he'll really appreciate it. Good luck!