Protect your Patches

A recent discussion took place on Patch-L regarding patches and collections that has been stolen at or during Scouting events. While we all would hope that 100% of Scouts and Scouters would follow all twelve points of the Scout Law, unfortunately that is not always the case. Sometimes temptation beats honesty.

A Scouter from Texas put together the following list which should help protect your patches while attending or trading at Scouting events.

Feel free to add to or use for your Jambo contingent, Conclave, local event, or whatever.

Although you probably think theft at a major Scouting event such as a Jamboree would not happen, it has happened in the past and will likely continue in the future. What is the item most likely to be stolen? Patches. Here are some common-sense steps for keeping your items secure.

1. Have a container in your tent that you can lock. Keep your valuables locked up when not in use. Just take out the patches you’re going to trade that day and leave the rest locked up.

2. Be low-key. Don’t brag about the number of patches that you’ve brought or traded for. Likewise, don’t put out too many patches on your trading blanket (not just for security; if another Scout thinks you have a lot of patches, he might expect more for his patches in trade). The more stuff on your blanket the harder it is to keep an eye on things (and the more you stand to lose if things are stolen).

3. Trade with only one Scout at a time. Ask Scouts to form a line if necessary. You’ll hear rumors of people who work in groups where some distract and others steal.

4. If you’re trading on a blanket consider using notebooks with plastic pages. The plastic pages help keep the patches together until a swap is negotiated.

5. Leave patches that you do not want to trade at home. If a friend or relative gives you some older patches, you should probably keep them rather than trade them. If you do decide you want to trade them, see if you can get an idea of their value on eBay prior to the Jamboree.

6. Prior to the Jamboree, ask your Jamboree troop leadership to lay down the law on stealing. “Now with all the cell phone cameras around, there’s a good chance that misdeeds will be caught on film. Do you really want to risk being sent home, possibly with a criminal record, because of a few patches?” Report any theft you see.

7. Print out a one-page sheet with pictures of your patches – “My OA lodge flap, my council strip, and my council’s Jamboree patch(es); I will trade these one-for-one for ones I do not already have. Make me an offer.” Maybe laminate it so it lasts and doesn’t blow away. Maybe laminate a smaller version for your lanyard. They you can keep your patches in your backpack/fanny pack where they are more secure and you can bring them out only for a trade.

8. Once you’ve traded for a patch you want to keep, put it away immediately. If you have a fanny pack, put the patches you want to trade that day in ziploc bags (maybe your OA flaps in one ziploc and your JSP’s in another) and put those bags and some empty bags in your fanny pack. When you trade for patches you want to keep, put them in the empty bags to keep them separate.

9. Make sure your name, Jambo troop #, and home address are on your backpack / fanny pack / patch notebooks. If you’re missing something, check Lost & Found. It might be lost and not stolen.

10. Understand that there are no must-have patches. History has shown over and over again that patches that seem so valuable now are much cheaper after the Jambo, and they can be easily acquired via the Internet.

11. Keep any high-value patch socked away unless you need it to trade for another high-value item.

I’d add to this that if every Scout is given say 10 JSP’s at the start of the Jamboree it should help remove the “it’s not fair that they have all these patches and I don’t” mentality. I’m also a big fan of having the Jamboree troop leadership get a large quantity of the lodge OA flaps and Council strips so they can sell them to the Scouts at Jamboree in case the Scouts blow through their trading stock quickly; troop leadership then turns in the $ and unsold patches after the Jamboree.

What would you add to the list?

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“The best things in history are accomplished by people who get tired of being shoved around.” – Robert A. Heinlein

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