This Pirates of the Carabiner set is probably my favorite 2017 Jamboree patch set

Is the Blackhawk Area Council’s 2017 National Jamboree patch set absolutely terrific?

Aye, matey.

Inspired by the Johnny Depp-led Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the Northern Illinois-based council’s patches have a pun-worthy theme: Pirates of the Carabiner.

True to their name, the smaller patches connect to the large center patch using — you guessed it — tiny carabiners. The Jamboree shoulder patches themselves are shaped like carabiners, too.

Each patch depicts a pirate doing a different Scouting activity: shotgun shooting, kayaking, archery, skateboarding, zip lining and BMX biking.

Check out the full set.

Becoming ‘a Jamboree hit’

Will Coots helped designed the patches. The 19-year-old from Oregon, Ill., serves as Order of the Arrow Section C-7 Chief. He was 17 at the time of the design.

The goal, Will says, was coming up with something Scouts would be excited to trade.

“I remember Orange County Council’s patch sets traded well the past two Jamborees because they had pins with them,” he says. “Knowing it would take something outside of the box to become a Jamboree hit, I thought of ways we could add an extra dimension to the set.”

A couple of years back, Will was talking to his brother about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise when Will misspoke and said “Pirates of the Carabiner” instead.

“I immediately knew it was the innovative patch set idea I had been looking for,” Will says.

A vision realized

Will worked with his friend Bobby Solberger to come up with a design to present to the council’s Jamboree committee.

“The committee loved our idea, and we immediately saw a vision on how the set could be the theme for the whole contingent,” Will says. “Our council used pirate-themed promotional tools, pirate terms, and even gave red camo boonie hats to the participants that match the theme, too.”

Bobby turned Will’s design, which started on a crumbly piece of notebook paper, into a work of art.

“I could not have done this without him,” Will says.

So how are the patches being received here at the 2017 National Jamboree?

“After talking to a few of the kids in the contingent, I could not help but smile,” Will says. “They all said they were trading really well and were able to get nearly every set they wanted. I was so happy that I was able to help create that happiness.”

The purpose of patches

The value of patches isn’t limited to how much they’re worth in a trade.

Will says patches are an important part of the Jamboree experience.

“Patch trading exemplifies friendliness, helpfulness and kindness, which are all things we stand for as Scouts,” he says. “It gives kids an opportunity to meet people from all over the world, acquire things they desire and make friends that last a lifetime.”


  1. Fantastic !
    I designed emblems for 40 years at Lion Brothers.
    Wish I had thought of this idea. I love them !

  2. I think I have a ‘pirates of the carabiner’ patch from 2010 Jamboree. The climbing/rapelling staff used that theme and had a patch. I’ll have to search through my boxes to find it.

  3. Having seen many of the sets in person, they are all fabulous. The ones that really stand out are the Designer ones (Thomas Kraus), the Entertainment ones (Dr Who, Star Trek, Monty Python, Monopoly, Pirates of the Caribener), the Sports (Golden State Warriors) and the Regional ones (Pez, Orange County surfing, Aloha Council aquatic life). There was also a popular WWI set.

    Trading patches was a blast (even for a newbie staffer such as myself) and I can’t wait to show my Scouts what I traded for…. it’s just not cheap to get started! and you have to hope your council’s patches (CSPs, lodge flaps, Jambo set, etc) are either desirable or inexpensive to buy (or preferably both!)

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