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Girl Scouts S.W.A.P. in First Event of the Year

Pins Exchanged, Friendships Made

West Orange's Girl Scouts have been busy.

More than 160 girls from Girl Scouts Service Unit 27 came together last week at for their first service event of the school year. The event was to exchange pins; the purpose was to foster camaraderie.

Namrta Shah, a troop leader for a Daisy and Brownie troop at explained, "S.W.A.P.s are a Girl Scouts' tradition where girls exchange keepsakes. This provides an opportunity for the girls to make new friends or catch up with old friends." As for the name of the event, she added, "In more recent years, some Girl Scouts refer to the pins as Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere."

At the S.W.A.P, the girls mingled and shared their pin creativity with each other as well as exchanged their creations. "I like trading pins and getting new ones to look at. My favorite pin had beads and a puppy dog charm on it," Aleathea Bergad, a Brownie in Shah’s troop said.

The scouts also had a sing-a-long and each troop sang a Girl Scout song for their fellow scout sisters. The night concluded with the Friendship Squeeze.

The event was attended by Girl Scouts from all the elementary school levels; Daisy Kindergarten – grade 1, Brownie grades 2-3 and Junior grades 4-5. "The amazing part was to see the girls get excited when they saw friends from other schools they didn't know were in Girl Scouts," Shah said.

Each West Orange school has their own troop with individual troop numbers. All those troops combine to form West Orange's Girl Scouts Service Unit 27. The amount of troops and levels within each school varies and not every school has a troop at each level. Shah said that it is the "ultimate goal" for each school to have a troop at each level.

Growing up, Shah said she was never a girl scout. "My parents could not afford it. But I remember going with a friend to a meeting and wished I could be a girl scout." She is now in her third year as a troop leader.

When Shah's oldest daughter was in first grade she started a Daisy group at Hazel. That group is now second year Brownies. She has started another Daisy group for her younger daughter who is in first grade. Currently, her Daisy group has 15 girls and her Brownie troop 14 girls.

Shah said the next service event will be in February 2012 for World Thinking Day. "The idea of this day is to think about other girls scouts around the world and learn about their troops and what they do."

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