Girl Scout Swaps - the What, Why and How.

Updated on April 29, 2016

What is a Swap?

A swap is a small handmade craft that scouts exchange with each other. Usually handmade, they include a pin for storage and often include information about the givers troop or location.

Pretzel Swap

Pretzel swap made from brown pipe cleaner and glued on tiny beads.
Pretzel swap made from brown pipe cleaner and glued on tiny beads. | Source


A swap by definition is - Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.

The Girl Scout website describes exchanging swaps as

‘the tradition of Girl Scouts exchanging keepsakes, started long ago when Girl Scouts and Girl Guides first gathered for fun, song, and making new friends’

The exchanging of Girl Scout swaps dates back to the first round ups in the 1950’s and 60s as a way to create international friendships. A round up, a gathering to show off the best of international Girl Scouts occurred every three years. The first round up was held at Highland State Park, Milford, Michigan on June 29th 1956. 5,000 girls attended the Americana themed event. The swaps were intended to encourage a correspondence with someone from other state or country. Today swaps are exchanged at council, service unit or troop events, day camp, neighborhood events and national conventions.

Halloween Themed Ghost Swap


Swap Guidelines

As a general rule Swaps should be about one to two inches in length, include a safety pin and have the scouts name and troop number attached. Girls usually take a theme, either about themselves or the event they are attending and create a swap using a variety of materials. Swaps should be portable, handcrafted, and often made from recycled or donated materials.

Origins of Swaps

Most sources link the origins of swaps to the Native American tradition of Potlatch.

Merriam – Webster dictionary defines potlatch as

'A ceremonial feast of the American Indians of the northwest coast marked by the hosts lavish distribution of gifts or sometimes distribution of property to demonstrate wealth and generosity with the expectation of eventual reciprocation.'

'To give (as a gift) especially with the expectation of a gift in return.'

The ceremony would often include speeches, songs, dance, games and food. It celebrated births, marriages, deaths and the coming of age of community members.

The first recorded making of scout swaps was in England in 1924. During the Imperial Jamboree held at Wembley of that year, there was a group of boy scouts that could not attend as they were hospitalized. Lord Baden Powell the founder of boy scouts challenged them to make Mafuzziwog, a swap that they made from items they found around the hospital. The best were displayed at the Jamboree.

Camp Themed Fire Swap


Swap Etiquette

There are several etiquette guidelines when participating in swaps, the main one being that it is considered rude to refuse a swap. This is even more important as the focus has become more about collecting different swaps as well as about building friendships.

Other etiquette rules include –

Accept swaps politely, always say thank you.

Swap face to face.

Avoid sharp objects and glass in swaps.

Avoid using food products.

Some councils have rules that all swaps pinned on hats/vests are off limits. Others that swaps on hats can be traded, but not those on vests. Another alternative is to provide the girls with a separate brown bag to place their swapped items away from circulation during an event.

Smore Swap


Swap Storage

There are a variety of ways girls can store their swaps, the inclusion of pins makes the possibilities endless. Pinned on a hat, scarf or blanket, on a lanyard or tote bag even a specially decorated storage box enables girls to display their swaps creatively. Other ideas are banners, swap trees and swap sashes. There are even commercially produced storage solutions available today from a variety of sources.

Ernie the Worm Swap


Swap Ideas

The swap possibilities are endless, whatever materials are at hand can be made into an object to commemorate a trip, event or celebration. Girls love to collect, make and display swaps and they become keep sakes for years to come!


Submit a Comment
  • Ruthbro profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from USA

    Thanks, that is one of my favorites!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    5 years ago

    I love the s'mores memory gift. How sweet! (no pun intended.) Great way to keep the good times in mind and build friendships.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)