“Patch trading is so addicting….it’s literally my life.” —Senior Patrol Leader, Jack L.’ Northern Lights Council

At the National Jamboree, patch trading has been a surprisingly fun way to build friendships. Some Jamboree attendees even claim they just came just for patch trading, which surprised me. So I dug in and looked a little deeper and found that this is very nearly its own sport at Jamboree. 

Everywhere we went, Scouts set out their displays of patches and would start trading with other Scouts who might be passing by; one patch would be traded for another, ending with a handshake a goodwill toward a fellow Scout.

Patch trading has become so important at Jamboree it is now an official activity with homes at the Summit Center, and the CONSOL Energy Bridge, and of course, nearly every sub-camp headquarters. However with all that, for some attendees, patch trading is a competitive sport complete with bragging rights for their final collection. That means, for the novice to have the fun and survive in trading, there are some rules to follow. The Jamboree Blog suggests this:

  • 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

And they also offered some tips for those who want to up their patch game:

Bryan on Scouting, editor of Scouting Magazine and manager of the Blog for BSA’s Adult Leaders, always has a top ten when it comes to patches at Jamboree. This year he said, “Pirates of the Carabiner set is probably my favorite 2017 Jamboree patch set.”

  • 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.


The blog’s final suggestion, “Fun is the most essential element to trading patches. If you’re not enjoying yourself, then you’re doing it wrong.”

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. These days he is a Scouting Ambassador and serves on the Council Membership and Marketing Committee. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner.

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