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Girl Scout Service Unit 303
(Wyoming-Grandville-Jenison-Hudsonville-Allendale, Michigan)
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Image result for girl scout swapsImage result for girl scout swapsImage result for girl scout swapsImage result for girl scout swapsImage result for girl scout swapsGirl Scout SWAPS we made for todays's camping event. "Girl Scouts Are All Heart.":

Girl Scout swaps are an easy, fun, inexpensive craft that a Scout can create to exchange with the Girl Scouts they meet while traveling, or at events. 

The swap should tell something about the girl, or her troop or the event.SWAPS are a long-standing Girl Scout tradition.

The tradition became very popular in the 1960’s, although it has been done since the 1920’s.  Girls started making little things to trade at events, jamborees or any place where they meet other Girl Scouts, and also to acquire penpals because most swaps had a name,town, and troop number on them.

People have created names using the word SWAP(Something With A Pin – Share With A Pal– Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere, and more) but they really started out as just swaps.   

(For those who are interested, this is known as a “backronym – it is the creation of a phrase to fit an already existing word, name, or acronym)



Swaps can be simple or complex, cheap or expensive, whatever the creator desires. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on then. Many people make them out of scraps or natural materials.

Swaps should have a pin attached so they can be pinned onto a camp shirt or hat. 

The swap should tell something about the person who made it, about their troop or about the area or region that they are from. They can also represent the theme of an activity or event.

Swaps should be kept small,  usually only an inch or two in size.


Swaps are made and given to promote friendship and to make new friends. Swapping is a good way to get girls talking to each other.

Swapping allows us to share our handiwork with other scouts and to bring back a memento of a special occasion.

There are many, many websites dedicated to swaps, swap ideas, pre-made swap kits.  Be sure that you give the girls the opportunity to use some of their creativity before you use someone else's ideas.

Swap Etiquette

  • Swaps to be traded should be carried in a shoe box or baggie. Swaps that are pinned to someone's hat or shirt or on a swap necklace are generally considered off-limits unless they are offered to you as a trade.  This gets a little tricky when there is a lot of swapping going on at once. Sometimes the new swap gets tossed in the baggie and gets given away.  Some troops have two bags, one to swap and one to keep.  Just have to remember which is which!

  • 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 swap, 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 swaps on hand for those people who have few or none. It is also nice if you give someone a swap 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 swap. You may also want to mark it with the date or the event name to help identify the swap later on. Tags can be easily made on the computer, cut to size and attached to the pin.

Swap 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 made with actual food - they can't be kept as keepsakes and they attract bugs and critters when outdoors. Your pets might also eat them too!

  • 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.

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