Girl Scouts SWAPS: The tradition of friendship

Posted: Nov 02, 2011


A SWAP hat from the 1959 Senior Roundup

So, what is a SWAP? Well, it’s a Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.

Still wondering what a SWAP is? Keep reading…

In 1956, at the first National Senior Roundup, the tradition of SWAPS began. Girls were instructed prior to attending to make charms, trinkets or other objects that represent themselves or their home state. The idea—Girls would “swap” their homemade objects with girls they meet at the Roundup, and pin them to their Roundup hat to symbolize the many friends they met.  At the end of the Roundup, each girl had a hat full of swaps from her sister scouts from across the country.

Although there were only four Senior Roundups (the last occurring in 1965), the tradition of “SWAPS” has continued.   Over the years, Girls and their councils across the country continue to make swaps for girls to exchange at camps, World Thinking Day, National Conventions—and just about any other Girl Scouting event you could imagine. In more recent years, swaps are more likely to have the girls’ council logo, name and the event name and date, so girls can easily identify when the swap was received and from what council.

For this upcoming National Convention (November 9th-13th in Texas), our own council receptionist, Virginia Payan, has been busy making 1,200 swaps for the attendees, which this year includes 16 Girl Scouts, and 44 adult volunteers and council staff.

This is no simple task: She first buys a plethora of special paper, called “shrinky dinks” paper and prints our logo in rows on the paper. Then, she cuts each logo out, hole punches them, rounds the edges (so they aren’t sharp when shrunk into plastic) and bakes them in the oven (for 3-5 minutes at 325 degrees). When they come out of the oven, they are adorable GSACPC charms that can be pinned on sister scouts at the National Convention.

 GSACPC swaps: The process

Virginia has completed all 1200 swaps, just in time for the convention.

No matter how swaps have changed over the years, they continue to carry the same significance—that every scout you meet, no matter where she is from, is a friend and sister scout for life.


Girl Scouts SWAPS: then and now