Buy a challenge….
(insert any social media page that wants to make a dollar) “Hey guys and gals! What have we got here?!? Brand new CHALLENGE COINS!! Purchase here for $19.99 and you’ll get a second free, shipping and handing separate.
Where the hell did the “challenge” in challenge coins go? I thought challenge coins were rare, hard to earn and collect. I used to look at coin collections in awe because they were EARNED And TRADED but now any collection I see I want ask, “Did you buy these for yourself?”
“A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (usually military), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. In addition, they are also collected by service members.”
When I was coming up in the fire service I got my very first coin as a gift for a job well done from a mentor. It was a total surprise and one I will cherish forever. I have a few other coins that I have received from doing the Dallas Memorial Stair Climb 5 years straight, also a Climb For the Calling coin. I have a Station-Pride coin. My son has a Texas Game Warden’s coin that was gifted to him from his uncle, it’s in the collection too. There’s a few others, but my point is that I pride myself in my collection of challenge coins because there was a bit of challenge or sentimental value behind adding each coin to the collection.
Now, I will apologize to any and all people (friends in fact) that sell coins to support and spread the word of their page, blog or whatever. Coins are a way to raise a little money for small pipes and drums groups or to gain some funds to help with donations. Even we at Station-Pride sell coins. Challenge coins have to be purchased somewhere right? I have never bought a coin, in fact when we at Station-Pride got our first batch, I was given 2 just for my contribution to the page. One of those I gifted to a friend shortly after.
The point is, I think challenge coins have become some sort of a propaganda piece. A commercialized gadget, rather than a tradition in the fire service as a way for service, initiative, work, ethics, morale, or simply being good at what you do.
As a positive example, I will use something that is close to me…
Sons of The Flag sonsoftheflag.org is an organization that supports military, fire/EMS, law enforcement and civilian burn victims. They use challenge coins as a way to do a national “buddy check challenge”. I LOVE IT! That’s the way a challenge coin should be used. As you can see in the pictures, guys use the coins to check in with guys. Make sure they are doing life and making it OK. Make sure your brothers are good to go, squared away, and pass on the coin.
So buy all the coins you want! Then turn around and check in with your friends. Pass one down to your probie who had some trouble and is now a badass firefighter. Or give one to the senior man that helped him. Pass one to the firefighter you just met at a conference. Get some made for your crew, shift or dept to use to hand out.
Be sure to check out the Sons of The Flag Facebook page, their website http://www.sonsoftheflag.org. Get some coins and pass em out. Buddy check and if you post on social media hashtag the posts with #SOTFBCC to pass on the buddy check and the challenge.