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Memorabilia Monday: A troop’s history, stitched in time

You’ll hear about a troop’s history in a variety of ways.

Some seasoned Scouters will sit at the campfire and tell you the story of their troop from memory. Other units keep detailed scrapbooks or photo albums to pass on to future generations.

But St. Louis Scouter Lisa Balbes has a unique way of preserving Troop 352′s memories: a large patch blanket, seen above.

In a clever blending of classic Scouting and new technology, Balbes has even given the patch blanket its own Web site. The site lets you hover over each patch on the blanket for a closer look.

Here’s what she wrote in her note to me:

The troop associated with our school had folded, so when boys graduated from the pack they scattered to numerous troops. When my husband was Cubmaster, he decided to restart our own troop. After about eight years, we had a reunion and invited back everyone who could find who had ever been associated with either incarnation of Troop 352.

At the event, a lovely woman came whose father had been Scoutmaster of the troop in the 1960s through 1980s. Her father had passed away years ago, and her only brother, an Eagle Scout, had been killed in a car accident when he was 18. Her father had kept a patch collection, pinned to a piece of red fabric, that she’d kept all those years, not knowing what to do with it. She came to our reunion, and donated both the blanket and a Scout-themed candelabra to our troop. She was thrilled to find someone who wanted and appreciated them, and we were thrilled to get a piece of our troop’s history. I carefully sewed all the patches on (by hand), added a back and loops, and built the stand.

It now serves as a back drop at all our Courts of Honor, and the boys always enjoy looking at all the old patches, which include the first OA patch in our lodge, and some that we have not yet been able to identify. I am slowly figuring out what they all are and adding that to the database, so the troop’s history will not be lost again.

What a great way to preserve the legacy of Troop 352. If you have a cherished Scouting item you’d like to share for Memorabilia Monday, find out how to send it to me after the jump.

  • Take a high-res .jpg image of your favorite Scouting item.
  • Just select one to send me (I know that picking one could be hard, but please try!).
  • The file must be less than 2 MB in size.
  • E-mail it to me with the subject line “Memorabilia” to scoutingmag@gmail.com.
  • Include your name, position, and council.
  • Tell me why this item is special to you.
  • 3 Comments on Memorabilia Monday: A troop’s history, stitched in time

    1. Patch blankets have generally been rare, I suspect because it’s easier to file patches away in a shoe box instead of sewing them on. I remember hearing one old-timer some years ago say that many earlier patch blankets started with a hole cut in a wool blanket so that the blanket could be worn as a poncho. Then the wearer would, starting wight under his chin, sew patches to events that he had been to, with the patches lined up side-by-side and eventually spiraling down. He would also sew patches that he had traded for at one of the bottom corners, also lined up side-by-side but spiraling up. The visual effect of a patch blanket completed in such a manner would be outstanding.

      • That does sound cool. Anyone have a photo of what Chris is describing?

        • I need to get some good photos of my patch blanket collection and then forward them on: 6 blankets and counting–2 of stuff I’ve done and 4 of trades/gifts/purchases (mostly fund raisers for various scout events). One of those 4 is a wearable or as it’s called outside the USA, a “Camp Blanket” or “Campfire Blanket”. I’ve got over 2,000 patches on those blankets (425 alone on the wearable), all sewn by hand like Lisa has done. I love her frame. I don’t suppose she’s got a diagram of it? It would make displaying the collection a lot easier at scouting events!

          Many other counties use “camp blankets” to wear/display their patch collections. Here is a simple pattern for a camp blanket” from the 1st Bullbrook Air Scouts of Scouts Australia: http://www.bullsbrookscouts.com/campblankets.html

          For example photos, see the Facebook group “My Camp Blanket ROCKS!!!”

          And here is one from the UK on Flicker:
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/36895666@N00/530216635/

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