• GS Southern Arizona

Exploring Girl Scout History: The SWAPS!

SWAPS or "Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere" or "Shared with a Pal" are a special GIrl Scout tradition that has been around since the 50s and 60s!


The idea for SWAPS was actually borrowed from Native American potlatch ceremonies in the Northwest coast. These potlatch ceremonies involved the trading of colored feathers as a sign of friendship. The ceremony is said to have developed in remembrance of two Native American girls who gave colored feathers plucked from a magic bird to colorless birds, thus ensuring all birds would have colored feathers.

In the Girl Scout context, SWAPS originated at the older girl “Roundups” that were held in the 50’s and 60’s. Check out these pics!





Fun fact: The Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona actually owns several of these vintage hats filled with vintage SWAPS! These round ups were attended by girls in the tens of thousands back then.

Resurrecting the SWAP tradition is a fun activity for girls of all ages! Here are some tips on having a good SWAP:


  1. Good SWAPS should be small, lightweight, made of something that will last (not food)

  2. SWAPS should tell something about you and where you’re from

  3. SWAPS should also have a way to be affix to a hat, vest etc.

  4. When swapping, you should always offer your swap even if the other person doesn’t have one to give back




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