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The Woodcraft Folk

The Woodcraft Folk are a UK based educational movement for children and young people. The aims of the organisation are to develop self-confidence and activity in society, with the intention of working towards "a world based on equality, peace, social justice and co-operation". Whilst sharing many of the same historical roots as the Scouting movement, the Woodcraft Folk's direct antecedent was an organisation led by ex-Scout John Hargrave[?], who had broken with what he considered to be the Scout's militaristic approach in the years immediately after the First World War. The Woodcraft Folk was established in 1925 after a south London group had challenged Hargrave's authoritarian tendencies.

The name 'woodcraft' was used by the influential writer and naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton at the turn of the twentieth century when setting up the American proto-scouting organisation Woodcraft Indians[?], and in this context meant the skill of living in the open air, close to nature.

Woodcraft Folk groups operate in England, Scotland and Wales, generally meeting weekly, and their activities include co-operative games[?], drama, craftwork, singing and dancing, as well as following an educational programme based on the organisations aims and principles. Group nights last between one and two hours, depending on the age of the children or young people. Groups are divided by age:

  • Under sixes are known as 'Woodchips'
  • Six to nine year olds are known as 'Elfins'
  • Ten to twelve year olds are 'Pioneers'
  • Thirteen to fifteen year olds are 'Venturers'
  • Older teenagers and young adults organise their own activities, and are known as District Fellows.

The Woodcraft Folk are a democratic organisation. Policies are decided at annual conference, attended by delegates from groups and local districts. Between annual conferences, responsibility for running the organisation falls on the members of the General Council. The organisation state that they "are proud of the fact that about half of our current General Council are young people under 25 years of age".

The official slogan of the Woodcraft Folk is; Span the world with friendship; Although a British organisation, they have sister organisations throughout the world, by being a part of the Brussels-based federation of progressive youth organisations, the International Falcon Movement[?] (IFM-SEI). International camps where similar organisations can meet up and network are held every six years or so.

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