The Korea Scout Association (KSA) will host the 25th World Scout Jamboree in 2023. Image used under Creative Commons licensing from World Scouting.

A Primer on International Patch Trading

Scouts and Scouters are united across borders by shared values, shared symbols, and, of course, a shared love of Scouting Swag! This passion is in full force at World Scout Jamborees. Contingent Young Adult Swag Coordinator Christa Waterwiese joined us to talk about scout swag in other countries and what you should expect when trading at the World Scout Jamboree.


In July 2019, tens of thousands of international scouts will descend on West Virginia for the 24th World Scout Jamboree, hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States. For two weeks, the Summit Bechtel Reserve will be a place of international peace, global adventure, and the World Scouting Spirit. And, of course, it will also be a place to trade!

Many scouts (and scouters!) in the United States enjoy patch trading. Just walk down the streets of the Summit during National Jamboree or the hallways at the National Order of the Arrow Conference and you will find rows and rows of blankets laid out with patches placed caringly on the soft fabric, some patches even older than the scouts trading them! Patch trading is a hallmark of the American scout tradition, but it will be a little different at the World Scout Jamboree.

Many National Scout Organizations across the globe use neckerchiefs to stand in for scout uniforms. The neckerchief is an international symbol for scouting and an effortless way to recognize a scout in any country. International scouts have strong and deep connections to their neckerchiefs and less with patches worn on uniforms. The BSA, in fact, is one of the few NSOs to habitually wear a full scout uniform, meaning a uniform shirt with regulated patches, uniform trousers (shorts) with a regulation belt, preferred hat options, and regulation socks. Scouts in other countries often simply wear a neckerchief over whatever clothes they find most comfortable. In addition to comfort, this also makes scouting more accessible for young people that are from low-income families. Instead of purchasing a full uniform, they can purchase one neckerchief for a low cost and wear it for many years (they don’t have to worry about growing out of it!). International scouts’ connection with their neckerchiefs means that at WSJ, neckerchief trading reigns supreme. Thus there may be fewer rows of blankets and cots in 2019 and more swapping of neckerchiefs from people’s necks.

No need to stop at one neckerchief, this scout from the 23rd WSJ is busily tying his fifth scarf around his neck.


Want to get ready for the 24th World Scout Jamboree? Many international scouts wear their neckerchiefs a little different than scouts usually do in the BSA. U.S. scouts traditionally wear their neckerchiefs loosely rolled and secured with a slide positioned under the first button of the uniform shirt. Some international scouts do wear their neckerchiefs like this, but the alternative may look a little strange to U.S. scouts. The “necker” or “neckie” is rolled tightly and secured at the bottom using the “friendship knot” instead of using a “woggle” or “neckerchief slide.” For examples, just look at pictures from the last World Scout Jamboree in 2015. Want to learn how to tie the friendship knot? Just ask any international scout at the WSJ. The friendship knot is named as such to build friendships between scouts. After trading with a scout, ask them to tie the neckerchief. The new friendship will be as strong as the knot!

According to legend, tying a friendship knot for someone ensures you will be friends for as long as it is tied. Click the image to learn how to tie a friendship knot for your friends.


This does not mean that patches won’t be traded at the WSJ. Fun Fact: Some international scouts refer to “patches” as “badges”. Many international scouts will also bring patches from their home and regional units. This is a wonderful way to learn what scouting is like in their local area and country. Similarly, trading patches from your troop or council is a great way to share where you are from with the scouts you meet. Patches from other NSOs are much different than BSA patches, and this is a fantastic way to add to one’s patch collection. Not to mention patch trading between U.S. scouts will still be going strong! Just make sure you pack all your neckerchiefs and patches into your bag before heading off to the Summit for the 24th World Scout Jamboree!
Meet you at the Jamboree!

The post was originally posted on October 2, 2017 by

Christa Waterwiese

Contingent Young Adult SWAG Coordinator

The post was originally posted on October 2, 2017 by

Christa Waterwiese

Contingent Young Adult SWAG Coordinator

You may also be interested in…

So, What Happens Next?

So, What Happens Next? Congratulations!  You've applied to the 2019 World Jamboree - USA Contingent as a participant or IST.  Here is what to expect...

A Recipe for a World Jamboree

A Recipe for a World Jamboree. Adventure, Friendship, Service, Sustainability, and Leadership are all wonderful ingredients on their own. Put them...

Tips from our IST Commissioner

Tips from our IST Commissioner As we count down the last 100 days until the Jamboree opens, we sat down with Northeast Region IST Commissioner Jay...