Pocketknife

Whittling Chip Card Corners

Ben sent in this question:

We recently had an issue with some scouts on a camp out where a knife was used improperly. There was an incident and although no one was injured I realized there don’t appear to be clear guidelines on what is a “minor” vs. “major” infraction when it comes to revoking/cutting the Whittling Chip card. I have seen some references indicate that a major infraction is if someone is injured. What about if a blade is brandished but no one is injured? What if the blade is not brandished, but the knife is removed from the pocket? What if the knife is thrown/tossed and no one is injured? What if it’s just a threat? These are all questions I wondered about as I am working on the best approach to deal with the problem. Thanks!

There is a tradition in Scouting of removing corners from a Whittling Chip card when the Cub Scout uses his pocketknife in an unsafe manner.  Many troops have a corresponding rule for Totin’ Chip cards for Boy Scouts. However, this is not a BSA policy. So it is up to individual units as to if and how to implement this policy.

Our unit does not use this policy. Instead, if a Scout is using a knife in an unsafe manner the card, and sometimes the knife, will be taken away. It is returned to the Scout once the rules have been reviewed again and the Scout agrees to abide by them.  This can be done on the spot or later at the discretion of the unit leader and depending on the nature of the infraction.

So your unit should set it’s own policy. It is probably better to have a predetermined policy though so that you are presenting a consistent message to your youth.

There is an interesting article in Scouting Magazine related to this topic: Ask the Expert: Is cutting corners off the Totin’ Chip allowed?

2 Responses to Whittling Chip Card Corners

  1. alan October 26, 2014 at 6:57 PM #

    Brandishing? Blade or no blade showing? Threat? It sounds there may be other trouble brewing. You may need to rethink and remove the offenders knife and card. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ask for the card and if they don’t have it on them it is a violation in itself. I told them it was equivalent to driving, fishing, hunting without a license. It Don’t matter if you have it but its at home. if its not with you its like not having it at all. A clear threat should be treated as a major violation.

  2. Cubmaster November 4, 2014 at 7:48 PM #

    Taking corners of the chip is at the unit leaders discretion. There is no BSA policy, for, or against such practice. Most units will allow three infractions (or corners removed). If a fourth corner is removed, the scout must “refresh” or “retake” the whittling chip course with a leader.

    Here’s what we do to introduce near Bears to this policy: At summer camp, we hold a whittling chip course on the 1st or 2nd day of camp. Cubs who have earned their whittling chip may carry and use their pocket knife in the camp site only. They may not carry the knife during open program times because there is no practical need for it (unless otherwise directed by camp staff). Chip corners are removed for infractions of the pocket knife pledge as shown on the whittling chip. If a scout loses his chip, he has to retake the course with a den leader outside of camp (we don’t offer it twice in a week). We’ve never had any problems with this policy.

    Yours in scouting.

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