Swapping Boy Scout Patches

Swapping Boy Scout Patches
Camp patches. Council strips. OA flap patches. Summer camp patches. These are the objects of interest and excitement that used to be the center of attention at campfires, summer camps, camp-o-rees and jamborees. Scouts from all parts of the country trading local patches for patches of other Scouts often located from far away councils or other countries.

I attended the 1960 Jamboree in Colorado Springs (boy, does that give away some age secrets). I grew up outside Pittsburgh, PA. This was a major occurrence for a 14 year old from the mills area. I saw the Rockies for the first time, took my first over-night train ride and spent a week with 90,000 other Scouts from around the world doing Scout crafts and having fun.

There were a lot of activities planned but evenings were spent swapping patches. We had local camp patches and our OA patch. The Shingis lodge didn’t have a flap patch. That lodge patch was shaped like the Philmont patch. Lots of camp patches were swapped because you could buy camp patches. OA patches were more difficult to come by because you could only buy one OA patch per year. In a lot of cases the situation today is just the opposite- you get one patch when you go to camp and you can buy all the OA flaps you want.

People were interested in different patches. I wanted to collect Jamboree patches. We traded for all kinds of patches. Ones that seemed to be in demand were the Blue Heron OA patch and the Camp Strake patches from Houston. I didn’t get a Bleu Heron, but I got a set of 4 Camp Strake patches. I also got some of the old round Philmont patches with some of the event strips that go with that patch. We also traded neckerchiefs,

Patches were valued based on colors (the more the better), the amount of stitching (the more the better), dated patches, and good patches had to pass the “flop test.” To be a good patch you had to be able to hold one side and the patch not “flop” in your hand.

Swapping patches doesn’t seem to be what it was. Scouts still swap council strips and OA flaps, but it’s not a campfire activity. If you go to swap meets, most of the attendees are “older” Scouts and often patches are purchased, not swapped for. I have pocket patches from 1950, 1953, 1957 and 1960. Maybe some day I’ll get back in the swapping business and fill out my collection.

If you have any contacts who would like to swap patches, books about patches that you like or information on swap meets you would like to share with others, let me know. I had a great time trading patches.

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