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> updated 24/12/09
Totin Chip emblem

The Totin' Chip and Firem'n Chip emblems are considered TEMPORARY INSIGNIA items and are only worn centered on the RIGHT POCKET of the uniform shirt. At the time this page was created, the emblems were being introduced in some local Councils as an alternative to the cards.


Boy/Varsity Scout Uniform Right Front Totin Chip

About that Right Pocket Flap...

Let's answer the first question first: What IS so "big" about the right pocket flap and for that matter, the right pocket of the Boy Scout uniform??

First, let's establish what items NORMALLY belong on the right pocket of the official Boy Scout uniform:

Right pocket of field uniform
From top to bottom:

  • A Jamboree patch or an international experience patch (one or the other; previous BSA uniforming policies allowed two such patches, one representing a national Jamboree and the other an international or World Jamboree. The reasoning for one or the other today is because the patches are much larger and only those Scouts and Scouters with larger shirt sizes can place both patches on the shirt.)

  • if the Jamboree had a "wide game" or other segments, then that patch (or patches) if earned is worn surrounding the Jamboree patch

  • a nametag, optionally

  • up to three Interpreter Strips

  • the "Boy Scouts of America", "Scout BSA", "Exploring BSA", "Venturing BSA", "Sea Scouting BSA", "Sea Exploring BSA", or "Cub Scouts BSA" strips, depending on the age of the uniform and type of uniform shirt. Most of the current khakitan shirts have the "Boy Scouts of America" strip pre-sewn onto the shirts.

  • if earned, an Order of the Arrow Lodge Flap. This should be the Lodge flap representing the current Lodge you belong to

    Let's stop here. The Order of the Arrow, Scouting's national camping and service honorary, has established that the right pocket flap of Boy/Varsity Scout and Scouter uniforms is where they want Order of the Arrow insignia and ONLY on that location. Why?? It has to do with the traditions of the Order of the Arrow and there is a justification for wearing the flap on the right side of the uniform. The OA sash is suspended from the right side, and OA ceremonies support the "right side" of things.

  • suspended from the pocket flap is the Order of the Arrow "arrow pin". It's a red and white ribbon with an arrow which Arrowmen SHOULD wear with or without a flap. Normally, those Arrowmen that choose not to wear a OA flap wears the Arrow Pin, as shown below. There are other pins which may be worn by Arrowmen who have received the Founders Award, the 75th Anniversary Award, or the Order of the Arrow Service Award (as shown on the OA page or on the page with other "dangle items"). Those whom have received the Vigil Honor, the OA's highest honor, wear the small Vigil device on the Arrow ribbon, as shown below.

    OA flap on with Vigil device on Arrow ribbon

  • on the pocket itself can go ANY temporary emblem, as long as the dimensions of the patch (or patches, to include segmented patches) does not exceed the dimensions of the right pocket. It can be suspended from the pocket, or sewn to the pocket.

  • below the pocket can go the TIGER CUB GRADUATE strip and/or a RECRUITER strip if your local Council permits it.

  • Nothing else

For some reason, some local Councils have decided that the right pocket is also THEIR location for special program patches (as in the Sunnyland Council's "honor camper" flap, shown here:

Sunny Land Council's honor camper award flap and OA Arrow ribbon

And the Quapaw Council's Tiger Cub Graduate patch for Cub Scouts to wear on the right pocket flap, shown here (They no longer use this emblem since Tiger Cub Scouting has been integrated into the Cub Scout program):

Quapaw Council's Tiger Cub Graduation flap

But most comments have come from both Arrowmen and those outside the Order of the Arrow, about the usage of the Totin' Chip patch.

Pete Farnham wrote in regard to wearing the Totin' Chip pocket patches:

My friend Paul Brown has raised the issue of totin' chip pocket flaps, and if they are official, nationally-sanctioned items. The answer is "no." (back in '97; in 2003, the BSA approved the patch for wear as a TEMPORARY ITEM.) However, this does not mean that they cannot be worn. They can. Local councils have authority to issue local insignia, and I believe the uniform guide states that the right pocket flap (where an OA lodge flap goes) can also be used for other insignia that meet a vaguely worded criterion--something like "furthering the purposes of the BSA program," or something like that.

Here's what the current BSA Insignia Guide states about "Special Local Badges and Insignia" (page 2, BSA Insignia Guide 1997-99):

"Clause 11 (this is referenced to the BSA's Rules and Regulations, Article X Section 4): Local Councils are authorized to adopt special badges and insignia as awards for particular purposes in harmony with national policies and to permit their use upon the official uniform in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Corporation (the BSA), but such awards must be approved as to purpose and design by the Corporation in advance."

The BSA's National Insignia and Uniform Committee granted local Council Scout Executives permission to design/adopt/use special local Council insignia items as long as they fax a copy of the design to the BSA National Office in advance of its usage and follow it up with three copies of the actual patch, knot, device, emblem, etc. That same committee also authorized local Council Scout Executives to approve Post, Ship, and Team insignia without having to send it to the BSA National Office and as long as one or more of the BSA's "indicia"

(the wording "BSA", "B.S.A.", "Exploring", "Explorer", "Varsity Scout", "VS", "W.W.W.", "WWW", the "Big E" emblematic of Exploring, with or without the anchor representing Sea Exploring, "Venturing", the Venturing logo or the full wording "Boy Scouts of America" or "Scouting/USA" (which expires at the end of 1998)...) is present on the patch in some way.

However, the Council scout shop here sells pocket flaps with a BSA fleur-de-lis on them, and we buy them to award to scouts who complete the woods tools requirement for Second Class.

Those same patches are available to other local Councils; there are about three or four companies that produce them, complete with the FDL which would make them "official" for wear. One version is produced for local Councils by the BSA's Supply Division's authorized manufacturers.

Pete and Paul are correct, however: If the National Capitol Area Council (or any other local Council) has authorized those patches for wear by their Scouts/Scouters, the issue ends: the patches are legal to wear. It is hopeful that the NCAC's Commissioner staff or a member of the professional staff at that Council issue some sort of "instruction" on how to properly wear the emblem on the uniform and where exactly is it to be worn upon the uniform.

The Order of the Arrow is VERY SENSITIVE about having other patches or insignia worn on the right pocket flap. The current (2009) Insignia Guide states that the Totin' Chip and other emblems are TEMPORARY INSIGNIA and should be worn ON THE POCKET (not on the flap!) of the Scout uniform shirt.

So, bottom line--it is okay to wear them. They were not nationally sanctioned when they were first introduced, but they are currently "legal" under the CURRENT BSA uniform guide if worn in the correct location.

Totin' Chip patch issued by National Capitol Area Council and several others

The question remains: How do you "remove Totin' Rights" from a Scout that is misusing a pocket knife, hand axe, or bow saw improperly?? It becomes "easy" for the Scout that has the patch sewn on their shirts; but what about the OA member, wearing his flap properly and has (natually) earned "Totin' Rights"??

I believe that this is the reason why the BSA allowed the patch, but permitted it to be worn ONLY on the right pocket of the uniform shirt by "holders".

To me, the card still remains the "universal evidence" of those rights, and is a visible way for me to remove those rights. No "cutting", no "corner chopping" (those are considered hazing actions by the BSA -- don't do it any more, even if "my old Scoutmaster did that and it didn't hurt anyone except the card!") Just take the card. No card, no "rights" to use those items. While the patch is nice...I'm not knocking the patch at all, mind you....I think it's a great visual reminder to me and other Scouters (and Scouts) as to who earned the card and who hasn't -- I still need to know how should we remove the rights assocated with earning the card/patch without re-creating an episode of the Chuck Connors show "Branded!" (as someone else noted on Scouts-L).

I believe that the BSA's Uniform and Insignia Committee has been right all those earlier years when they didn't allow the "Totin' Chip" patches. It didn't stop them from being used by units and some Councils... it just reinforced the idea that the cheapest way to recognize is the best way.
The cards are about 50 cents; the patches I would guess run about four to five times as much. While I as a Scoutmaster cannot "tell at a glance" who has earned rights to carry a pocketknife, hand axe and/or bow saw, as the Scoutmaster I SHOULD KNOW who has been given those rights (after all, I sign the cards!) and who hasn't. And if I forget, the Troop's TRUE LEADER, the Senior Patrol Leader, *should know*.

Here is a scan of the Totin' Chip patch and card:

Totin' Chip generic patch

Totin' Chip cards

Peter Kennon suggested:

I've seen this also. The only problem is that once the scout is in OA, how does one ID totin' chip card holders.

Your suggestion is pretty good as far as the card is concerned:

Suggestion: Tape them (the card) to the inside cover of the scout's book, instead of clipping corners, use a black marker.

The Totin' Chip patches are made available by several local Councils to use for their Scouts. There are explicit instructions on where the patches are to go: they are to be placed ON THE RIGHT POCKET of the uniform just like any other TEMPORARY PATCH. The right pocket flap is ONLY for usage of the local lodge's flap. There's several Councils that haven't caught that clue...but there's very little that National can do about it, since those patches can be placed on the flap for "programs consistant with National programming"

And I don't know if anyone has brought this up or not: In *some locations*, the mere "cutting" or "chopping off" of corners of the Totin' Chip card (as I've been doing since I was a Patrol Leader!!) *could be construed as hazing* and therefore MAY NOT be done in accordance with the BSA's YPP policy on hazing. So, what I've recommended to Scoutmasters since then, is taking the ENTIRE CARD from a Scout (or Scouter), thereby removing their ability to carry a pocket knife or handaxe.

The Scouter returns the card upon a suitable period of time.

But I do like Peter's idea of taping the card to the Handbook and "blacking out" corners on the card!

I also asked:

While we are talking about Totin' Chips, is there a badge for the Fire'm Chit (for holding matches and being able to start fires)?? The Fire'm Chit allows a Scoutmaster to certify that Scouts/Scouters know how to start and put out a fire and what materials are used to do both with.

Fire'm Chit cards

Fire'm Chit patch

The Fire'm Chit cards do the same for matches and fire (for Cub Scouts primarily) that the Totin' Chip patch does for Boy Scouts.

(This page was updated in December of 2009 with more current information; the patches are being made by the BSA but the location for the wearing of those patches remain as originally designed: on the RIGHT POCKET of the Scout -- not on the flap.) Settummanque!

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Please help me by providing me full-sized scans of insignia items which do not appear here.
I will take your insignia in trade, borrow them and return them to you within a week, or you can provide fullcolor, full-sized scans. I'll give you credit in the opening page for the contribution.
Please help me to help other Scouts and Scouters in this project!
Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton; newer Fir'm'n Chip and Totin' Chip emblems were furnished by Ray Theberge. Thanks Ray!!

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