The history of the challenge coin is a long and storied one. It’s a time-honored practice that dates back to the earliest days of the United States military. It’s amazing and heartwarming to consider that the tradition lives on today.
It continues to help bring people together and spread happiness.
If you’re interested in participating in the challenge coin tradition, it’s important you understand the rules that surround the process. The general rules of the challenge coin world are fairly simple, but there are some finer details you’ll need to be well versed in.
A failure to understand the challenge coin rules can end up being quite expensive. That’s why you should read on and make sure you understand exactly how challenge coins work.
Understanding Challenge Coin Origins
The origin of the challenge coin dates back to the military of World War II. OSS officers were deployed to France and were given coins that were used to signify that they were legit OSS members.
The first military unit known to have a coin was the 10th Special Forces Group. Green Berets were the only known units to have coins prior to the creation of the United States Special Operations Command, which was formed in 1987.
The Challenge Coin tradition has spread far and wide in both the military and the private sector since that year. Initially, coin checks were started to ensure that other individuals were fellow OSS members and not spies.
But this practice would soon morph into a sport to pass the time.
In this time period, soldiers began to use the coins for games and other purposes. The most popular game involved spontaneously checking if other members had their coins on them, and punishing them if not. It created a sense of fun and camaraderie.
That tradition became the modern basis for the challenge coin system.
The Challenge Coin Rules
There are a few different things to understand when it comes to challenge coins. Specific challenge coin rules vary from group to group, so it’s best to verify the specifics with the particular group you intend to spend time with.
But the below is a general outline that applies to most challenge coin participants.
Initiating a Coin Check
The challenge coin system begins when a holder of a challenge coin initiates a coin check. This is a challenge that then needs to be met with a response.
If you are the “challenger,” then you initiate a “coin check” by slamming your challenge coin onto the closest available surface. All other coin holders must then “respond” by drawing their coins out and throwing them down on the same surface.
If a surface isn’t available, holding a coin out in clear and public view is also acceptable. The specifics of a coin challenge may vary depending on group and location. But in almost all circumstances, the challenger will make it very clear and obvious that they are beginning a challenge.
Failing to Respond
More often than not, someone present during a coin check may not have their coin on them. This person is then forced to face a penalty. They must reward all those that did have their coin on them.
This penalty is usually in the form of a round of drinks. The failed player must buy drinks for all those that successfully responded to the coin challenge.
A penalty does not always need to be a drink purchase. The penalty can take any form that was pre-decided by the group. You should refer to your own specific’s groups rules and determine what the penalty will be.
A fair deal of mocking and teasing is likely to be involved with losing a challenge as well. In some cases, a person is allowed to take two or three steps in order to obtain their coin.
But if a person does not have their coin in the immediate area, they are not allowed to go and retrieve it.
If Everyone Has Their Coin
In some cases, all present might successfully be able to display their challenge coins. In this situation, it is the challenger that they must pay the penalty. They must then buy drinks or pay whatever the penalty is to all those that participated.
This helps create a sense of risk in calling a challenge. There’s always a chance that the challenger themselves might have to pay the price.
It goes without saying, but in order to start a coin challenge, the challenger must have their coin present.
Losing or Misplacing Your Challenge Coin
The worst things that can happen to challenge coin participants is losing or misplacing their coin. This does not grant one immunity when a coin challenge is presented.
Until the coin is found or replaced, this person is still liable when it comes to coin challenges. As you might expect, one should really keep it to themselves if they are unable to find their coin. Other players are very likely to take advantage of an individual if they discover that their coin has gone missing.
It’s advisable to replace your coin as soon as possible if this is the case. Otherwise, penalties can quickly add up.
Now That You Know the Rules…
Participating in the challenge coin tradition can be a great deal of fun. It can be a great group opportunity. The most important step in starting your own tradition is ensuring all involved understand the challenge coin rules.
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