It seems like only yesterday we were warding off the wind and rain, and now looking at the sunny weather outside, it definitely feels like summer is right around the corner! As a kid, I loved the promise of summer: a time to pack up the school books, hit up old friends I hadn’t seen for a while, venture into the great outdoors, and camp. Every year my family and I would attend a large family camp in Humboldt County, and I’d spend ten days running wild with friends, picking blackberries, swimming in the river, building forts under the redwoods, crafting, and trying not to get sunburned. How fast those days flew by–all too soon, I was exchanging email addresses and friendship tokens with new friends, and saying goodbye.
If your girl is headed to camp or another traveling adventure this summer, exchanging SWAPS (“Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere”) can help her hold onto the magic of the season a little longer (and remember the friends she made during her trip). Summer is full of sunny, nature-inspired ideas, so I’ve scoured the internet and pulled together some of the best crafts for summer SWAPS. Click through the idea bank below with your girl for some inspiration and get started on her SWAPS creation before she heads off on her big adventure:
Camp is full of fun things to do, from climbing on the high ropes course to singing at campfire. So why not make a SWAPS inspired by your favorite camp activity?
- Archery – make a mini bow and quiver of arrows! Or you can purchase an archery SWAPS kit.
- Artist’s palate – do you practically live in the art barn at camp? Then this one’s for you!
- Pirate raft – You pretend you’re a pirate when you’re rafting down a river, too, right?
Flora and Fauna
What would camp be without all the forests, fields, waterways, and the critters that make their home there?
- Raccoons – Roxy’s wild cousins are frequent visitors to our Northern California camps.
- Owls on a branch
- Leaves and trees
- Pine cone fairies – California redwood pine cones are the perfect size for these petite forest sprites.
- Melting bead flowers
- Animal footprints
- Painted rocks – Rather than bringing SWAPS to camp, girls can find smooth stones while at camp, paint their camp name or troop number on the back, and exchange them with their camp buddies.
More Camp Magic
- Camp in a bag – because sometimes you wish you could just take camp home with you.
- Sleeping bag – roll up some felt and tie with embroidery floss to make this camp comfort must! Write a secret message on a piece of paper and roll it up inside for a personal touch.
- Girl in a sleeping bag – this version features sticky foam sheets and may be easier for younger Girl Scouts to make. Also, they can each customize the bag portion with markers!
- First aid kit – take healthy risks, and be prepared for the bumps and bruises that may happen along the way. Or show some love with these cute bandages.
- Tents, tents, and more tents
- Pathfinding—let this compass guide you.
- Dunk bags
Do your splendid summer plans include adventures other than camp? Try making a beach in a bottle or a tasty looking sweet treat so your new friends can carry summertime with them all year long.
- Sunshine – A spiral of Sculpey clay and a little finger crimping, and you have a bright, sunny craft!
- Beach in a bottle
- Ice cream cone – The instructions are for ornaments, but the pattern can easily be scaled to different sizes for the perfect SWAPS
Quick SWAPS FAQ
“We don’t have time to make SWAPS but we want to take part in this kooky tradition. What should we do?”
There are many websites and Etsy shops that sell ready-to-make SWAPS kits (in fact, quite a few of the links on this list will connect you directly to shops that provide kits). Simply do a quick search for “Girl Scouts SWAPS kit” on the internet and you’ll discover a whole treasure trove of options.
“Where can we get supplies?”
Use your resources wisely and dig through leftover troop craft supplies. If you’re looking to buy supplies, visit a Michaels, Jo-Anns, or any local craft store, and you’ll find all the SWAPS supplies imaginable.
“What’s the history of SWAPS?”
Check out SWAPS Inspiration: Golden Gate Bridging 2017 Edition, where I go into detail about their origin and also include some beginner how-to’s from GSUSA.
“I need more ideas! Where can I find more ideas?”
Follow our SWAPS Pinterest Board for inspiration:
I’m excited to see where these ideas and your creativity lead you! Share your summer SWAPS below in the comments or on social media with the hashtag #GSNorCal and help inspire your sister Girl Scouts.
Ashley Redfield—Ashley is the Digital Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she’s constantly planning, creating, and managing awesome content for social media. After graduating from Mills College (a women’s college in Oakland), Ashley joined the Girl Scout movement where she loves being part of a team that helps girls unlock their potential and continuing that legacy of women’s leadership. She has spent much of her life exploring Northern California, especially the Bay Area, so when not behind a blue-lit screen, you’ll probably find her hiking through a local park or at a café planning her next road trip.