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Patch Trading: The Basics

The National Jamboree is a great time to interact with Scouts from all over the nation and the world while sharing fun activities and crazy adventures. One of the most popular ways to interact with others at the Jamboree is through the ancient art of patch trading.

Patch trading started as a way to show friendship even across state or country lines, with Scouts exchanging patches with those they positively interacted with. It has evolved into a frenzy of young bodies rapidly surrounding blankets set out on the ground and scanning the area for the perfect patch set.

Patch trading is such an important part of the Jamboree that several Scouts said they came to Jamboree only to see all the neat patches and get a chance to trade.

One Scout, Senior Patrol Leader Jack L. from the Northern Lights Council, said, “Patch trading is so addicting….it’s literally my life.” Many other Scouts shared his sentiment. It’s impossible to walk through any base camp without seeing a few patches set up or even a horde of patch fanatics.

While patch trading is meant to be fun, keep a few rules in mind:

  • Use the buddy system. Always have a friend or group with you, to make sure you’re safe at the Jamboree, especially in large and confusing crowds.
  • Youth should trade with Youth, Adults with Adults per “International Scouting Collectors Association Guidelines.” Youth can trade with Adults if their Adult Unit Leader is present to observe and approve the transaction. Youth Protection Guidelines are in effect.
  • Do not trade any award or rank patches. Scouting knots, religious medals, or badges of office should not be traded. Doing so violates the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Do not trade on paths, steps or under the awning of the Scott Summit Center.
  • More information is available in the “Info and Links” portion of the Jamboree app

Here are some tips for those who want to up their patch game:

  • Diversify your collection. Try to get several patches or sets from all over the country to interest traders from all over the world. This usually takes time, so patience is key.
  • Maintain your patches. No one wants to trade a patch for a dirty, dusty or torn one. Upkeep is essential to have marketable pieces.
  • Be kind to everyone you meet. While Scouts are always supposed to be friendly, this is very important when trading patches with others. As the proverb says, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” “Please and Thank You” apply here.
  • Be respectful of others’ patches. If you’re holding someone’s set, treat their patch like you would treat your own.
  • Be careful on the CONSOL Energy Bridge. Patches can slip through the slats in the bridge. Being careless on the bridge could ruin a perfect patch deal.
  • Emphasize quality over rarity. While several traders scan barcodes trying to find the most rare patches, it’s more important to get a patch that you enjoy and will keep enjoying for years. Twenty years down the road it won’t matter how rare the patch is. What will matter is how special it is to you.

Patch trading is available almost everywhere at the Jamboree, but certain locations have more people, depending on the time of day. Some areas at the Summit have signs that dissuade participants from patch trading; follow those rules, or you will be asked to leave that location. All base camps, parts of the Summit Center, and the CONSOL Energy Bridge are great places to trade and meet with Scouts from all over the world, especially after dinnertime. At certain locations, there is an International Scouting Collectors Association (ISCA) Member in attendance to assist with helping your Trading Experience be an enjoyable one.

If you follow these tips and rules you are almost guaranteed to have an enjoyable patch trading experience. Fun is the most essential element to trading patches. If you’re not enjoying yourself, then you’re doing it wrong.

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