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What are SWAPs?

What are SWAPs? And what are they used for? What has this got to do with Girl Scouts? Two meanings are:

Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere"

"Share With A Pal"

SWAPs History
What to Make
How Many?
What to do with them
SWAPs Etiquette
SWAPs Don'ts
SWAPs Links<>/font

SWAPs History

"SWAPS" can trace their roots to POTLATCH the Native American custom of a ceremonial distribution of gifts.

The "SWAP" was introduced into Boy/Girl Scouting/Guiding as a way to introduce one Scout to another. The swaps were traded and a conversation would result from explaining the swap. Many of these "SWAPS" started long friendships that lasted although the two swappers may have lived in different countries. A SWAP is usually, but not always,a small homemade item that represents the person, their community, or their background.

The idea of collecting as many "SWAPS" as you can without getting to know the person makes the item traded (or swapped) a "collectible". Most of the swapping done today seems to have this idea rather than the traditional "SWAP" made to build up a friendship.

In 1924 the Imperial Jamboree was held at Wembly England, which was open to all of the Boy Scouts in the English Commonwealth. There was one group of Boy Scouts who could not attend, these Scouts had been hospitalized for a long time. Guiding/Scouting was very important part of many of these children's lives. They wore their uniforms even if bedridden and they had regular Guide/Scout activities. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting/Guiding, was concerned that these children could not take part in the Jamboree, so he came up with an idea. Each of these children could make a "Mafuzziwog". Just as the boys who attended were selected on their scouting abilities, these children would be represented by the "Mafuzziwog" they made. A "Mafuzziwog" was a SWAP that the Scouts could make out of items they could find around the hospital. Using things such as tape, thread, bandages, and even chicken bones, each Scout made their own SWAP. The best of these were displayed at the Jamboree. Hopefully, they started some special friendships between the Scouts inside the hospital with the Scouts outside.

The idea of S.W.A.P.S. started at the original National Roundup Conferences. At that time a "S.W.A.P." was a little remembrance that one Girl Scout gave to another. Swapping is a good way of starting correspondence with scouts from other states and countries. For this reason you usually attach your name or troop number and address for future reference.

What to make?

S.W.A.P.S. can be simple or complex, cheap or expensive, whatever the creator desires. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on S.W.A.P.S. Many people make them out of scraps or natural materials. Most S.W.A.P.S. are made with pins attached so they can be pinned onto a camp shirt or hat. S.W.A.P.S. are little things that girls and leaders make to trade with each other at county or national events. If you are making S.W.A.P.S. in your troop, you can give the girls an assortment of beads, small wooden shapes, paints, markers, ribbons, felt, fun foam, chenille stems, and let their imaginations go wild. S.W.A.P.S. usually tell something about the person who made it or about the area or region that they are from. They can also represent the theme of an activity or event. S.W.A.P.S. are usually only an inch or two in size. Instruct the girls to create their S.W.A.P.S. with a safety pin attached, or some way of wearing the swap.

How many?

Each girl should decide how many S.W.A.P.S. she wants to trade. S.W.A.P.S. can be made during part of a troop meeting, during a special meeting called for the purpose of making S.W.A.P.S., or with examples shown at the meeting, with the S.W.A.P.S. to be made by the girls at home.

What to do with them?

S.W.A.P.S. are traditionally pinned on a S.W.A.P.S. hat. This hat could be part of your troop identification. Perhaps matching painter's caps in your troop color. On the day of an event, each girl will come with her S.W.A.P.S. and will mingle with other girls, trading her S.W.A.P.S. Leaders may want to come prepared with a few extra S.W.A.P.S. for girls who were absent when they were made, or who may have left their S.W.A.P.S at home. Other ideas are to make keepsake boxes to keep them in or pin them on a tote bag.

Why swap?

The girls and leaders "S.W.A.P." these tokens with new friends they make at various events. S.W.A.P.S. are made and given to promote friendship and to make new friends. Swapping allows us to share our handiwork with other scouts and to bring back a memento of a special occasion.

S.W.A.P.s Etiquette

  • S.W.A.P.s to be traded should be carried in a shoe box, baggie or pinned to your shirt. S.W.A.P.s that are pinned to someone's hat are generally considered off-limits unless they are offered to you as a trade.
    I have heard the opposite is true. SWAPs on the vest are off-limits and SWAPs on the hat can be traded. Who can confirm this?
  • It is considered rude if you refuse to swap with someone who asks you. Be courteous. If a person gives you a swap you really don't like, remember that it may have come with the purest of intentions and the simplest of skills.
  • If you don't like the item you have been given, or already have an identical S.W.A.P, accept it politely, and give them one of yours with a Girl Scout smile.
  • ALWAYS say thank you! A Girl Scout is courteous.
  • Never give a swap away that someone gave you.
  • Always have a few extra S.W.A.P.S. on hand for those people who have few or none. It is also nice if you give someone a S.W.A.P. who doesn't have one to give in return. That is what being a Girl Scout is all about.
  • Include the information such as your troop number, city and state on the S.W.A.P. You may also want to mark it with the date or the event name to help identify the S.W.A.P. later on. Tags can be easily made on the computer, cut to size and attached to the pin.

S.W.A.P.S. Don'ts

  • Swaps without a meaning - Should have something to do with the event, with Girl Scouting in general, the troop or about the person who made it.
  • Food items - they can't be kept as keepsakes and they attract bugs and critters when outdoors.
  • Flimsy swaps - they're heartbreaking for the creator and the recipient. Make sure items are colorfast, the pin is secure and the item can hold up to handling and transport.
  • Leader-made swaps - items shouldn't be made FOR the girls by their leaders - after all, what would the point be? Swaps should be designed with the age and skill level of the girls making the swap. Don't give them something they can't do on their own (or without minimal help).
  • Forgetting the girls - Don't design swaps without giving the opportunity for the girls to also make one for themselves. Otherwise, they won't want to give it away!
  • Too fast, too easy, too many - if all the girls in the troop each have 5 of the exact same fast and easy swap, they won't be one of the most sought-after swaps in the group to say the least.

SWAP Ideas
Share with a Pal (The Craft Bin)

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Copyright 2001 GSGV Troop # 40