Patch Trading and Collecting

on November 5, 2007 in collections, Jamboree, Scouting

Whenever Boy Scouts and adult leaders gather at a camporee, jamboree, or training session there is probably going to be some patch trading going on at a table or on a blanket on the ground, especially if the event includes Scouts from around the country or from around the world.

My introduction to patch trading was when I attended a Scoutmaster Fundamentals training course at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1984. I had heard stories about how seriously some people take this hobby, but it was only when I saw grown men sitting around a table with open three ring binders full of clear plastic pages of patches that I truly realized how big this hobby was. So many designs. So many colors. So many patches! I decided then that I needed to start a collection of my own.

I put Scouting patches into three main groupings: the council shoulder patch (csp), the Order of the Arrow Lodge flaps and patches, and the activity patches that you receive for attending a camporee or maybe selling popcorn. I like collecting the csp’s and the Order of the Arrow flaps. The only activity patches I am interesting in collecting are the ones given for an activity in which I participated.

When I attended the 2001 National Jamboree as scoutmaster of Troop 1417, I got the chance to see how popular this hobby has become for both the youth and the adults, and how much fun it can be to collect. The Scouts of my troop were excited after an evening of trading, and would often show me the patches they added to their collection that day. It did not take them long to discover which patches were very popular and which patches were not very popular. It was fun to see all the trading blankets laid out along the roadways of the jamboree and the hundreds of people making deals for the patches they wanted. The trade would always end with a handshake which signified that both participants accepted the trade.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Boy Scouts of America has a policy that restricts trading. Boys must trade with boys, and adults must trade with adults. The boys and the adults are not to trade with each other. There must have been some problems with adults trading unfairly with boys, or visa versa. By the way, there is a blog about patch trading called Boy Scout Memorabilia Collecting. Check it out.

I am not a die-hard patch trader. I am more of a collector. I do have a couple hundred csp’s and lodge flaps in my collection which fit into three large three ring notebooks. My favorite patches are the ones I collected from the 2001 National Jamboree.

During the last two years I have done most of my collecting from the internet. I have bought a few patches on eBay, but most of the new additions have been received from trading a dvd-r for patches. The dvd-r is a compilation of Scouting commercials and promotional films that I have collected over the last two decades. I trade the dvd-r for two patches, a council shoulder patch and an OA lodge flap. The trades have worked well. I have received some very nice patches, and the other person has received a dvd-r that they have put to use a variety of ways, including entertainment at district and council dinners.

I would expect that soon I will be starting my fourth notebook. After all, there are a lots of patches out there that I do not have yet!

2 Responses to “Patch Trading and Collecting”

  1. Matthew Marvin says:


    I am a fellow patch collector, and I have a question about your storage system. Where did you find the plastic pages to store your patches in? I have been looking for something like this for a while, but have not found anything like it online anywhere.

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