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What Are Swaps And Why Are They So Important???

Author: Amanda Sass, the Nation's Capitol Council, January 1995

S - Special
W - Whatchamacallits
A - Affectionately
P - Pinned
S - Somewhere

The idea of swaps was started at the original National Roundup Conferences. At that time, a swap was a little remembrance that one Girl Scout gave to another. Swaps are hand made, thus the girl is giving a part of herself to show friendship. Swapping is a good way of starting correspondence and for this reason usually have your name and address attached.

It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on swaps. Many swaps are made with pins attached so they can be pinned onto a camp shirt or hat. Most people make them out of scraps or natural materials. First of all, swaps are little things the girls and leaders make to trade with each other. They may be simple, complex, expensive or inexpensive, whatever the maker desires. Each girl should decide how many swaps she wants to make. This is the same number that she will receive. She may make them all the same, or make every one different. If you want to make some swaps for a camping unit, then each troop should make different swaps so the girls are not limited in trading. If you are making swaps in your troop, give the girls an assortment of beads, small wooden shapes, paints, markers, ribbons, felt, chenille stems, etc. and let their imaginations go wild. Swaps are usually only an inch or two in size. Instruct the girls to create their swaps with a safety pin attached. Swaps are traditionally pinned on a swap hat. This hat could be part of your troop identification. Perhaps painters caps in your troop color. Remember that swaps are made as tokens of friendship. The girls are suppose to swap these tokens with new friends they make. Its important to stress that they are tokens, and not "oh that's ugly I don't want to swap". Swaps are made with love and are given with love. Its always nice to put your troop number and name and the date of the event on the back of the swap to recall wonderful memories.

Ideas for 70 swaps:

  1. Little creatures made out of smooth stones or nuts with painted or felt features
  2. Bunnies made from a clothespin; wiggle eyes and pom poms
  3. Cloth trefoils: green material cut into trefoils; write troop # and event name on the trefoil
  4. Needlepoint designs on plastic canvas cut into various shapes
  5. Bookmarks made of clear contact paper over pictures, or colorful contact paper/felt
  6. Felt animal shapes
  7. Caterpillars-rubber band, pipe cleaner, wiggle eyes; wrap pipe cleaner around rubber band and pencil. Attach one end of rubber band to pipe cleaner, pull off pencil. Add eyes
  8. Shell jewelry or shell animals
  9. Wood or ceramic shapes with troop or event information
  10. Pin eye; take pierced earring back, glue on pony bead and wiggle eyes
  11. Packing bead creatures: decorate packing beads with sequins and paint
  12. Tongue depressor and plastic spoons can be made into people or decorated with potpourri
  13. Noodles can be painted and strung together put onto large safety pins
  14. Origami animals
  15. Creatures made from pom poms and wiggle eyes
  16. Small wallpaper fans
  17. Write haiku poems on small squares of paper, cover in clear contact paper, punch hole in corner and attach a ribbon
  18. Make designs from perler beads, add string or pin
  19. Paper snowflakes covered in clear contact paper
  20. Friendship knots
  21. Ribbon bows with pin attached
  22. Birthday candles tied with ribbon and pin attached
  23. Gods eyes made with toothpicks and embroidery floss.
  24. Finger puppets
  25. Tissue paper flowers
  26. Paper beads strung on a string
  27. Pony beads on a large safety pin, attached to a small safety pin
  28. Small macrame or crocheted items
  29. Caterpillars: place two different colored halves of pipe cleaners side by side. Wind around pencil. Slide off and glue small wiggle eyes to one end. Safety pin should be put in between the coils. You can turn this into a bee by adding wings
  30. Rainbows: use red, yellow, blue & green pipe cleaners cut into thirds. Place in rainbow order then twist the ends together. Curve into rainbow shape. Glue a cotton ball to each end as a cloud
  31. Candy cane: use red and white pipe cleaners cut into thirds. Twist together into candy cane swirl. Curve the top. Add tiny ribbon bow
  32. Butterflies: accordion fold rectangles of pretty paper(gift wrap is great) Pinch paper in the middle, bend one third of a pipe cleaner around a give a twist at the top. Curve the ends of the pipe cleaner around a pencil point for a nice touch. Fluff out the wings
  33. Peanuts sprayed by leader with polyurethane, glue on wiggle eyes and pinto beans for nose. Glue colored pom pom on for wig
  34. Teddy Graham cookies: spray with metallic paint, glue on felt tabs to look like medals
  35. Plastic canvas cut into rainbow shapes. Weave lanyard lacing through holes
  36. Make magic wands out of popsicle sticks
  37. Wallpaper fans with rosettes from fabric store and ribbon glued on
  38. Plastic canvas cut into rectangles; make flags by weaving yarn of different colors
  39. Bracelets made from pony beads threaded onto pipe cleaners. Twist ends together to conceal in bead
  40. M&M candies wrapped in colored cellophane and tied with ribbon
  41. Hersheys kisses made from foil, with troop # written on paper tag
  42. Take a plastic spoon, put a chocolate kiss in each, wrap in plastic and tie with ribbon. Attach a note: Here's a spoonful of love and kisses for you
  43. Make Oscar the Grouch: glue wiggle eyes to a green pom pom glued to top of film can
  44. Flashlight made of aluminum foil
  45. Pizza slice of tan felt with colored scraps glued on
  46. Beads on a piece of plastic lacing
  47. Shrink art pieces
  48. Pennants with troop #
  49. Miniature camp items
  50. Worry dolls
  51. Miniature campfires small twigs, twist together with red and yellow pipe cleaners for flames
  52. Lanyards from plastic lacing
  53. Mayflower ship; walnut shell half with small piece of playdough inside; toothpick and small paper for sail
  54. Warm fuzzy pom pom with wiggle eyes glued on, they glue pom pom to felt feet
  55. Miniature tomahawks; 4 sticks, yarn, feathers, sponge; cut damp sponge into rectangle, wrap yarn in a criss cross fashion, tie off in back. Glue feathers so they hang down. Sponge will harden when it dries
  56. WOPAT bookmark: cut a felt strip of felt and glue dots of felt the colors of each world down the strip; W (red-Well being), O (yellow-Out of Doors, P (blue-People), A (purple-Arts), and T (orange Today and tomorrow). Or make a WOPAT creature using pom poms
  57. Five facet beads, one of each of the above colors with a green tri-bead at the bottom. Make the girls name the worlds before swapping
  58. 35mm film container turned into first aid kit with band aid, etc, in it
  59. Scraps of paper with stickers and plastic to make them waterproof
  60. Butterfly made of bow tie noodle
  61. Cute pins
  62. Ribbon with your troop number on it
  63. Scraps of string tied in different knots
  64. Styrofoam cup melted in oven turns into hat
  65. Felt pieces in brown , tan & white to make mini smore
  66. Bottle cap painted black with brown, yellow and white felt cut to look like bacon and eggs cooking in a frying pan
  67. Small spools of thread, with a tag that says 'We are SEW lucky to be Girl Scouts!' add ribbon
  68. Orange pom pom with green leaf-shaped fabric glued on; note says 'Orange you glad to be a Girl Scout?' Can use larger pom-poms and make jack-o-lanterns
  69. Make a leader swap by cutting 4x4 pieces of fabric. Put a couple tsp. of bath salts in and tie with green and white ribbon. Attach note that says Calgon...take me away Great swap after a long weekend
  70. Take mini-clothespins, paint with acrylic paints to look like Girl Scouts; drill through the sides where the arms should be and string them on a ribbon or lanyard lacing. Put on faces with a Sharpie Marker.. make a necklace by string with a bead in between the clothespins. Nice to make for leaders by making them the age level they are leading