News : July 24, 2013 (1)

Collectors barter, bargain for Boy Scout patches

by Candace Nelson
Staff writer
Ed Kohler, 49, of Caldwell, N.J., left, trades patches with Kyle Corey, 20, of Newberry, S.C. Corey has accumulated hundreds in just the last few days of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

Matthew Shore, 12, shows off a few of his largest patches before going home to North Carolina after the 2013 National Scout Jamboree held at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.

GLEN, JEAN, W.Va. -- Kyle Corey stood above his display of patches sprawled out on a blanket, eyeing the value of each one.

"What do you have? Wanna trade?" Corey called out to passersby.

He did a once-over of another Scout's handful of patches, examining the stitching and coloring.

"I don't like the computer-generated ones, really," he said, shuffling it to the back of the pile.

Then he pointed to another patch he was willing to trade for the pile in his hand.

The Scout nodded and stashed his new patches in his plastic baggie.

Thousands of these types of patches have traded hands during the 10-day Jamboree held in Fayette and Raleigh counties over the past week. If there's a shady hillside, it's almost guaranteed Scouts are scattered there — bargaining and bartering.

Patch trading is a popular pastime for Scouts, and the 2013 National Scout Jamboree is a Mecca for collectors.

"I look for what looks cool and what catches my eye," Corey, 20, of South Carolina, said. "You determine the patches' value. It just depends on what they want, what I want, and it goes from there."

He pointed to his haul of dozens of colorful, intricate patches.

"This? All this is just from two days of trading at the Jamboree," he said.

"The Jamboree has the serious business of patch trading — and we were trying to legislate where they did the patch trading," National Jamboree Director Larry Pritchard said. "All bets are off. Any open three-foot space, where they have dirt, they're there. They got smart, figured out ways to do it, brought cots out of tents so they have a nice table to present things. It's a big deal."

To start, each council has patches printed up for Scouts. They bring their hand to the table and see how many they can accumulate during the 10-day Jamboree.

Corey stashes hundreds — maybe even thousands — of patches too intricate or unusual to trade at home.

A Connecticut Yankee Council patch featuring Marvel Comics characters like Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man was particularly popular this year. Those with dragons or other unique symbols, and those from places far away — like California — brought the most value.

Ashley Parchert, 15, of Tennessee, watched Corey's auctioneer-style approach to trading, hoping to pick up a few pointers.

"He's really good. This is only my first time — I just have a few patches," she said, pointing to a small stash on the edge of the blanket from her council. "I'm trying to learn still."

Michael Parker, 17, of Virginia, said patch trading is one of the best things to do at events.

"I'm crazy about it. I've slowly built mine up," he said. "I'm up to 200 patches here."

For Corey, it's all about the customer service. He gives a firm handshake and hello to each buyer.

Others took a less outgoing approach.

Matthew Shore, 12, of North Carolina, was attending his first Jamboree. He showcased his humble collection a few blankets down from Corey.

"Can I give you this?" said Aidan Orr, 12, of Connecticut.

"Hmm. Do you have anything else?" Shore urged.

Orr pulled out a pocketful of other patches, sorting through his top contenders.

One with blue stitching caught Shore's eye, and he outstretched his arm, patch in hand, to signal a trade.

"It's all just an opinion — what you like best," Shore said.

For some, the patch trading was just as exciting as the high-adventure sports at the Jamboree.

"I love this," said Corey LeLathower, 14, of Illinois. "It's amazing to find something you love and something new that you want to keep and not want to trade. Those are the best moments."