“Swaps are small crafts that Girl Scouts give as gifts or trade with other scouts. They are also sometimes referred to as potlatch. Their origin is Native American. Swaps can be simple or complex, cheap or expensive, whatever the maker desires.
Each girl needs to decide how many swaps she wants to make. This is the same number she will receive. Larger troops may want to make several kinds of swaps so that the girls will have more opportunities to trade. Probably 10-15 per girl is a good number to aim for.
You can demonstrate some of the ideas listed below, or just provide an assortment of beads, ribbons, felt, pipe cleaners, etc. and let their imaginations run wild. Or you may want to have your group plan a swap and then consider the cost, materials needed, how long it will take, etc. Swaps are usually only an inch or two in size and attach with a safety pin. Traditionally they are pinned on a swap hat. This hat could be part of your troop identification–all a certain color, with troop number decorated on with fabric paints.
On the day of the swap, each girl will come with a shoebox (or something) with her swaps in it, and will mingle with other girls, trading her swaps for others that interest her. Hopefully, the swaps will have small safety pins attached and can be pinned to a swap hat or jacket. Leaders may want to come prepared with a few extra swaps for girls who were absent when they were made.
Why swap ? To promote friendship. To learn to talk to other people. To have mementos of a good time. To share our handiwork with other scouts. Girls on wider opportunities and adults at national meetings swap patches and handmade items. These often reflect the area the scout lives in. Camp swapping is a great background for this.
POTLATCH is the ceremonial exchange of gifts practiced by Native Americans of Northwest Coast tribes. The custom stems from the legend explaining why birds have colored feathers. As the story goes, two Indian girls plucked feathers of a magic bird and distributed the multicolored plumage to the colorless birds living in the forest. From that time on, birds have had brightly colored feathers, and those gifts were remembered at potlatch ceremonies.
Families were summoned to the potlatch by a messenger carrying a bundle of sticks representing the number of people to be invited. The ceremony included speeches, songs, dances, games, races and refreshments. The host and members of his family were costumed and enacted legends about their heritage. The gift giving came last of all, just before the guest departed. Since potlatch gifts were symbols of the families status in the village, they were often quite elaborate, often being carved boxes, canoes, dishes, jewelry, mats and baskets. The potlatch ceremony was given to commemorate the births, deaths, marriages or coming of age or members of the group.
A FEW IDEAS FOR SWAPS …. YOU CAN COME UP WITH MORE!
- Wooden clothespins, large and small. Painted and made to look like different people or animals. A pin is glued to the back.
- Individual “leaves” of a large pine cone can be the head of an animal. Add eyes, then twigs for antlers and you have a deer. A small red pom pom can turn it into Rudolph.
- Shells–glue eyes on to make shell critters. Or take those with natural holes and string them on one end of a piece of yarn. On the other end glue a fish, drawn, colored and cut from construction paper.
- Nuts are great for animals, baskets, and many other things.
- S’mores from cut up sections of a box, a square of brown felt and a cotton ball. Glue all together with yarn and attach to a pin.
- Laminate (with clear contact paper) nice leaf rubbings.
- Pizza made of tan felt with red, yellow and green felt scraps glued on.
- Construction paper and typing paper can be folded and cut to make a mini book. Selected stickers can help give it a certain theme.
- Square knot ribbon. Take different colors (for example, Juniors might use blue and green) of ribbon, about 6″ long. Tape the ends of the ribbon to a table and have the girls practice making square knots in them until there is about an inch and a half left. Then tie a small bell on the end. Usually they will get 4-6 knots on the ribbon, and it is great square knot practice! Change the color to suit season, etc. You could also do this, but braid the ribbon.
- Glow in the dark. Glow in the dark stickers on black contact paper or cardboard. Make a circle of cardboard and black paper and put star and planet glow in the dark stickers on it. Or paint wooden cutouts and decorate with fabric paint–write troop number, name of event, I love GS, etc. Some fabric paints glow in the dark.
- Small scraps of leather can make tiny saddles, using yarn and pipe cleaners for the stirrups.
- Wooden cut outs–attach eyes, paint, etc.
- Eyelet trim (inch and a half wide). Cut into sections and glued to white ribbon makes a cute apron.
- Make friendship pins with beads on a safety pin.
- Mini sit-upons.
- Felt pennants with activity name and date on them.
- Peanut trolls, with pin on back.
- Puzzle pins painted in hot colors, sealed with iridescent colors sprinkled on them.
- Fuzzy dice made from soft foam cubes with marker dots hung from a pin.
- Prismatic mylar, cut to make CDs, pasted onto cardboard.
- Octopus–pom pom with two wiggly eyes. Braid four pieces of yarn and attach to the bottom of the pom pom in the center of the yarn so there are eight arms.
- Indian–pom pom with narrow strip of felt and tiny feather to make headdress. Glue on wiggly eyes, etc.
- Teddy graham cookies, spray painted gold, glued onto felt strips as medals.
- Peanuts sprayed with polyurethane, pom pom wig, wiggle eyes, bean nose.
- Magic wands–popsicle sticks, painted black with each end painted white.
- M & Ms wrapped in colored cellophane.
- Fans folded from wallpaper border remnants, glue lace on edge and ribbon rosette at base.
- Felt kite, yarn for tail.
- Toilet paper roll–straws cut into 1.5″ sections, cut and glue toilet paper to fit, and run a piece of yarn through it.
- Campfires made from cinnamon sticks and red, orange and yellow felt. Small rolled logs can be made from brown grocery bags.
- Pipe cleaners–cut into quarters, wrap yarn around the middle to form a spider. Twist red and white pipe cleaners together to form candy canes. Make wreaths with pipe cleaners and decorate with ribbon, pom poms or sequins.
- Silk leaf with a rolled pipe cleaner in it to resemble a worm. Wrap a pipe cleaner around a thin paintbrush (Pencils work, but give fatter worms). Hot glue the worm to the leaf, add eyes and antenna if desired. Glue a pin to the other side.
- Native American–beads threaded on yarn, with a small feather tied to one end. Also small strips of brown felt, glued to form headbands. Add a small feather and decorate with fabric paint. Teepee–frame formed with two toothpicks. Triangle of black felt glued to it. Then tan and cream-colored felt was wrapped around to form the teepee (Flat with only two toothpicks). Glue down–brown yarn was tied at top to secure it. Decorate with fabric paint.
- Tiny plastic seasonal shapes available at craft stores. Have girls draw faces on them if desired. Attach string to them with safety pin.
- Mini potpourri using lace ribbon and potpourri.
- Mini cups or champagne glasses. Put several pom poms in them, a small red pom pom on top, and a section of plastic straw to create a sundae.
- Felt trefoils with troop number written in fabric paint.
- Pom Pom critters–Add eyes and feet and antenna if desired. Add beak and feathers for a bird, flippers for a seal, a trunk for an elephant.
- Bottle caps can be glued to the flip top part of an aluminum can and spray painted black to resemble a cast iron skillet. Pin goes on the bottom, and felt can be used to put food in the skillet.
- Use netting and yarn to make mini dunk bags. Cut the netting in circles and have girls thread yarn through the top to make a drawstring. Maybe you could create mini dishes to put inside.
- Mini baskets, filled with tiny pom poms to look like an Easter basket. Or put small flowers in it.
This company also has a lot of examples of swaps with instructions: