Beware of sending a Scout on the National Jamboree and Tour. Every time, a vicious disease spreads rampantly across the encampment of 30 to 40 thousand Scouts. Its proper medical name is: Patchous Tradeamongous. Once bitten, there is little relief but to get out there and patch trade with the masses. The itch will get you going, the fever will make you crazy, and the antidote will nab you friends.
What is patch trading? Patch trading is an activity that follows the age old idea of Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden Powell himself. It’s a “game with a purpose”. The game part is that most BSA council contingents attending a National Jamboree, bring a uniquely designed “patch set”. You may have seen one nicely framed on a wall in someone’s home or office. Or, pride fully sown on the back of a Scouting coat. Colorful, distinctive, they represents the event, locale and character of the council who created it. There are the surf and skateboard patches from California’s Orange County troops. The Blue’s Brother’s set from Northeast Suburban Illinois. The dinosaur set, a regular from our own Utah National Parks Council. You’ll find these with many, many other patch sets from councils around the country. Trick is, you can’t buy them. You must trade to get them. A game with a purpose built in.
The purpose is getting Scouts to interact and make friends. Shaking hands, presenting oneself, making deals, sharing stories, it’s all part of the fun. You’ll see them coming with their backpacks of patches, scouring the encampment, looking for that final patch to complete a set. They’ll be on the trail, alongside the roads, outside event entrances. With blankets spread and patches displayed, all are looking to make a trade and with a trade some Scouting friends. Since a Jamboree hosts Scouts from all over the country and even around the world, the first question asked when participants meet is, “where are you from?”. When those attending from our council say, “Utah”, often the next question asked is, “are you a Mormon?”. Regardless of your faith, it’s a perfect intro to make friends and share a conversation about personal beliefs.
Throughout the lives of these young men, they will have opportunities to meet others from distant places, present themselves, shake hands and share who they are and what they believe. They’ll be able to lean on that infectious bug they caught during the National Jamboree and Tour. So, when you go, don’t leave home without a set or two of the antidote to trade with friends you’ll make along the way.
In 2017, the Utah National Parks Council will send 600 participants on the National Jamboree & Tour experience. Beginning January 2015, troops will fill fast. Applications may be submitted at utahscouts.org/jamboree. You Gotta Go!