The Woodcraft Folk is UK wide children’s and young person’s charity with groups in England, Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland. It seeks to develop self confidence and activity in society, with the aim of building a world based on equality, friendship, peace and co-operation.

Our core principles are peace, co-operation, equality, democracy and environmentalism. The full statement of these principles is given greater detail in our national aims and principles document:

EDUCATIONAL AIMS AND PRINCIPLES

1 The Woodcraft Folk is an educational movement for children and young people, designed to develop self confidence and activity in society, with the aim of building a world based on equality, friendship, peace and co-operation.

2 Education for Social Change: We seek to develop in our members a critical awareness of the world. We will work to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills necessary for them to act to secure their equal participation in the democratic process that will enable them to bring about the changes that they feel are necessary to create a more equal and caring world. As an educational movement, we believe that equal opportunities should extend to all aspects of activity
and participation in the Woodcraft Folk. We will combat oppression or discrimination in our movement, whether on grounds of age, class, gender, race, sexual orientation, for reasons of disability, contact with mental health services, or a previous criminal conviction that does not create risk to children or young people. We will educate our members so that they may take these issues into the wider community.

3 A Co-operative and Sharing Attitude to Life: We believe that to further our aims it is vital to approach our educational work through the principles of cooperation. To achieve this we will provide a programme which ensures that our members practice cooperation through all the activities in which they participate.

4 International Understanding: Our motto is ‘Span the world with friendship’. We will therefore encourage and develop international understanding and friendship through our educational work and by our exchanges between children and young people of different lands. We will promote a greater understanding of the world amongst our members so that they are aware of the inequalities which exist in it.

5 The Rights of the Child: In our work with children and young people, we respect and defend their individual rights, and encourage them to participate responsibly and democratically, in all aspects of Woodcraft Folk activity.

6 Religion: The Woodcraft Folk welcomes all children, young people and adults, who wish to become members of the movement, and it asserts the right of all its members to practice the faith of their choice providing it does not contravene the aims and principles of the movement.

7 One World: The Woodcraft folk will encourage an understanding of the need to work towards a world where we provide for the needs of everyone on the planet now and in the future without destroying the physical environment. We aim to educate our members about issues of environmental and social sustainability and how this relates to their own lifestyles and other people’s actions.

8 A world at Peace: Because of our international outlook and concern that all shall enjoy the right to freedom from the immorality of war and want, the Woodcraft Folk is dedicated to the cause of peace. Accordingly we associate with the movement for world disarmament and for the transfer of those resources directed to the destruction of life into channels which will be used for the fulfilment of humanity’s needs.

9 Affirmation: The task of the Woodcraft Folk is the cultivation of a world outlook. Because the Woodcraft Folk is concerned with educational activities, it is accordingly precluded from being involved in activities and policy making of political parties. The Woodcraft Folk expects its members to abide by its constitution and to participate actively in a movement that is dedicated to all people for all time.

The Woodcraft Folk currently has about 450 groups across the UK, but the largest concentration is in England. In the South East we have groups in Kent, East and West Sussex, Hamphire, Surrey and Berkshire.

Our groups are normally divided by age:

  • Woodchips Pre school to 5 year olds.
  • Elfins 6 years to 9 year olds.
  • Pioneers 10 years to 12 year olds
  • Venturers 13 years to 15 year olds
  • DFs 16 years to 21 year olds

Our groups are co-educational and have always been so since the founding of the movement in 1925. Groups normally meet once a week in term time, often in community halls or schools for one and a half to two hours. These meetings vary a great deal in content, but will normally include such activities as: singing, co-operative games, debates, art, craft, social education, cooking etc.

The use of the “council circle” is important in the Woodcraft Folk. The circle is symbolic of our unity and our equality. The circle also gives the young people a voice in their group and helps them develop their ability to talk in front of their peers in a more formal setting. At each group night all members say the “Envoi”- a piece of poetry attributed to William Morris.

This shall be for a bond between us,
That we are of one blood, you and I.
That we have cried peace to all,
And claimed kinship with every living thing.
That we hate war, and sloth and greed,
And love fellowship.
And that we shall go singing
Into the fashioning of a New World.

The Envoi embraces our belief in the common bond that encompasses all humanity and all other living things on the planet and a commitment to try to make the world a better place for all its citizens- human or otherwise.

A typical woodcraft evening might look like this:

Arrival 6.15: This can be quite chaotic. You will need someone to take subs and a register, it's helpful if this can be the same person every week so that the children know who to give their money to. You may also need a couple of people to arrange the room ready for the activities. Alternatively termly subs by cheque if possible can ease the chaos! Some groups say the Envoi here, others do it as part of leavetake.

Games 6.20: Aim for a mixture of active and quieter games. The “Games, games, games.” book available form Folk supply has plenty of ideas in it. Try to offer a few suggestions and let the children choose. Running games can be one of the most daunting parts of a groups night to organise, everything tends to look like chaos. We usually have one leader running the games and watching the mood of the group with one or two others watching out for and dealing with individual children or incidents helps take the pressure off. Also try to get everyone playing, even the adults.

Circle 6.55: This is a time for everyone to have a quick rest before carrying on with the activities and a drink is often served. It's also the time when we share news, each person in the circle telling us something that happened recently. We then explain the second part of the evening.

Activity 7.05: Often for younger children this is a craft activity however it does not have to be. It can be anything from drama, to singing to writing protest letters. Some groups like to have a theme lasting a number of weeks and plan their activities around this.

Leavetake 7.45: Once everyone has help with the clearing up there is a final circle where any massages are passed out. After this the group either says the envoi or sings link you hands together.

An important partner for the Woodcraft Folk is the co-operative movement. The ideals of that movement are shared by us. The Woodcraft Folk believes implicitly in the central importance of co-operation to the future of humanity and the human race’s survival. The co-operative movement financially supports the Woodcraft Folk and the Woodcraft Folk chooses Co-operative shops and banks as its service provider of choice.


advice@woodcraftfolk.org.uk

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