Girl Scouts is an organization with a rich history of traditions. One of my personal favorites is the tradition of exchanging, “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere,” also lovingly known as SWAPS. These “Special Whatchamacallits” have been a part of our Girl Scout history since they first appeared in the 1950s and 60s at national Senior Roundup events. These items are small in nature but serve as the perfect reminders of Girl Scout memories and friends. Typically, SWAPS are small enough to pin to a hat or backpack, and have a tag that shares contact information for the troop or girl that is exchanging the SWAPS.
In my experience as a young Girl Scout, I most often saw SWAPS exchanges while at summer camp or large events. Nowadays there are ways to send SWAPS nationwide, similar to a pen pal connection. Back in September of 2020, one of our GSHPA volunteers told me of how her troop had spent all summer exchanging SWAPS with troops not only nationwide, but worldwide! After hearing that, she and I agreed that a SWAPS exchange within GSHPA would be a fun way for girls to connect safely during the pandemic, and thus the GSHPA SWAPS Exchange event was born!
We had 9 Juliettes and 66 troops participate in our first GSHPA SWAPS exchange. Now not only did participants get to connect with troops across our council footprint, they also got to show their creativity in more ways than one! Our girls thought of some very creative SWAPS ideas to fit our winter theme, but they also used their creativity to find a way to make these SWAPS during the pandemic, at a time that in person troop meetings were not allowed. Again and again throughout the pandemic I have been amazed at how well our girls handle the ever-constant change, and adapt to our new virtual way of life. With Zoom meetings happening for school and other extracurricular activities like Girl Scouts, it is so great to see the girls’ creativity continue to shine through! I don’t know about you, but it makes me super proud to be a Girl Scout!