As a kid, one of the top three things I look forward to when traveling with my dad to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention is the pin exchange, where people from a bunch of different places around the world exchange pins from their own section of the world. Each year, I look forward to seeing the pins from the various states and other countries and to meet the people who gave them to me.
First off, here is how it works. Each delegate gets some of their own state’s pin from their state deputy. My dad tells me that each state deputy reflects on some phrase, motto, or other significant moment for that state, and designs a pin around that. Some are tied to a religious event, others are more secular. Some are filled with colors, and others are more simple. Once you have your stash, then you get ready for exchanging. There’s an official place you are supposed to do the exchanging at, but people start exchanging pins throughout the day, especially if you visit the hospitality rooms.
So at first everybody gets to the designated spot and just talks. That part is boring to me because its mostly the adults doing the talking. But once the pins come out, then I start to have fun. My little sister and I then take the list of states and go around asking people if they have a pin from our state, and if we can have a pin from theirs. The trick is that some places are harder to get because there aren’t as many people representing those states/countries, so you have to try and find those first.
After you have done the exchanging, which can last for hours, you then look at what you were able to collect. Some of the pins you can expect to be large. I always look forward to Rhode Island — their pins are HUGE! Other states make pins that are quite small and full of details. I like to lay them all out and sort them first alphabetically, so I can see how many I have. I think at one convention I was able to get pins from 52 different jurisdictions. After taking the inventory, then I sort them based on which ones I really like. For me, I like ones that have bold colors, or ones that are larger in size.
There are a few states that are a must to get: Rhode Island, Missouri and Hawaii. But no matter which pins I’m able to get, it’s fun to be able to see the pins from both large and small states, the other countries, and the random ones that don’t really make sense but are just fun to have. And of course, the pins from Iowa are the best!
Overall, this is a really fun event, one of my favorite activities during the annual Supreme Convention, and something I would encourage all kids to take part in. And I guess you can bring your parents too!
Noah is the 10-year-old son of Paul Lee, the youngest and the first Black state deputy in his jurisdiction’s history. Read more about Paul and his family here.
Although an in-person pin exchange will not be possible at this year’s convention, which will be held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can participate in digital and streamed events on kofc.org/convention. The convention Mass, the Supreme Knight’s Annual Report and the awards session will also be aired on EWTN, CatholicTV and Salt +Light starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on Aug 4. The Into the Breach video series will have its television premier on EWTN just hours before — at 3:30 p.m.
Published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To share your K of C story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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