SWAPS are small crafted items Girl Scouts share with each other at events. Two ways of describing the acronym are Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere and Share With A Pal. However, they are also great to include with mixed media and collage art projects. Find out about how Girl Scouts exchange these small tokens as well as exploring new ways to use them.
1. History of SWAPS.
Find out about the history of SWAPS. Be able to answer the following questions.
- What are SWAPS?
- How did SWAPS originate?
- Why make SWAPS?
When swapping with others, you want to make sure the experience is positive both for the giver and the receiver. Review the etiquette in the Enrichment Project supplement. Discuss etiquette with your girls so they know what to expect. Try to roleplay or give examples of good and bad experiences so the girls understand how important it is.
Before you start, you need to think about where you will be swapping. Here are some things to think about.
- Type / theme of event
- Community ideas to showcase your location instead of event
- Number of participants
- Realistic goals for final quantity
- One SWAP for the troop or one per girl
- Ways to make sure received SWAPS are kept separate from made SWAPS
- Ways to identify SWAPS you want to show but not trade
4. Basic supplies.
Review the Enrichment Project supplement for a list of basic supplies to have available. Start with what you already have. Brainstorm ways to get materials at little or no cost. Try to use recycled materials and tools instead of buying new.
5. Find directions online.
Search the Web for directions on creating SWAPS, SWAP photos that you can recreate, etc. Start your own collection of ideas and organize them in a way so that you can easily find them later.
NOTE: SWAPS do not have to be pins, so do not discount items that do not come in that form.
6. Create samples.
To help start a brainstorming session, create samples. This can be from the directions found online (Step 5) or from any other resource. Be able to explain the theme and why you chose the materials / design you did. If possible, provide a supplies list and directions so others can duplicate what you created.
7. Make your own.
After creating samples, try making SWAPS of your own design. By yourself or with your girls, try taking the ideas you have and creating them with your materials. Remember the best SWAPS are inexpensive, hand-crafted and thoughtful.
8. Pick your SWAPS.
When you’re done experimenting, decide on which you want to produce in quantity for your event. If you don’t have enough materials, look at your brainstorm list in Step 4 and get more.
9. Save the rejects.
Even if you decide not to use a SWAP, don’t discard it. It might fit a theme later. Create a place to keep rejected SWAPS.
SWAPS should have the giver’s identification — a label or a tag works well. You may wish to include the troop number, event name, event date and location. Explore different ways to place identification on / with your SWAPS. Try both handmade and digital versions to see what works best for you.
11. SWAP protection.
Make sure your SWAPS and identification can stand a little rain. Paper items can be covered with clear contact paper (laminate). Some items may need to go into a small baggie. Review the items you make and make sure they’ll be able to withstand the weather.
12. More than SWAPS.
In case your girls are looking for more than just SWAPS, have them take a camera or notebook with them. As they make new friends at events, they can take pictures of the girls with the SWAPS they made and make note of email addresses or physical addresses so they can continue their friendships.
13. SWAP night.
Before going to a large event, hold a small SWAP night in your Service Unit / community. Provide areas to make SWAPS as well as an area to exchange SWAPS. After the event, review with your girls what happened and what could be done to improve their own experiences.
14. Start a collection.
Start a collection of SWAPS. You can ask for extras the girls have from events or make your own and SWAP at adult events such as trainings.
15. Create a book.
Create a book with your SWAPS. You can do a book with instructions or one with memories of the events and people you met.
Beyond Girl Scouts
16. Look beyond Girl Scouts.
Where else can you use SWAPS? From small gifts attached to Artist Trading Cards to incorporation in mixed media projects, SWAPS can be used in a variety of other crafts. Examine other crafts you enjoy. Can you include SWAPS with them?
17. Incorporate SWAPS.
Create a project and incorporate a SWAP you have made or received.
18. Personal display.
From creating a special necklace to making a SWAP hat, personal displays allow you to show your SWAPS while letting others know that these are not tradable. Explore various display options and try at least one.
You can make a banner, hanging flag or other item to attach your SWAPS. This allows you to display rejects (Step 9) or extras the girls don’t want to keep. Explore making an idea wall featuring your banners.
SWAPS are often small enough to be placed into trading card holders in notebooks. Explore this option. You might also want to keep a card in the back of each SWAP listing the date and SWAP event.
21. Other ideas?
Brainstorm other ideas you have for displaying your SWAPS. Experiment and share those that work for you.
Sites to Explore