The Woodcraft Folk

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The Woodcraft Folk is a UK-based educational movement for children and young people, considered the youth arm of the co-operative movement. The aims of this youth 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".

Woodcraft folk
Established: 1925
Chair of General Council: Richard Lace
General Secretary: Kirsty Palmer
Registered charity number: 1073665
Address: 13 Ritherdon Road
SW17 8QE.
Telephone: 0845 458 9535
Fax: 020 8767 2457
International affiliation: International Falcon Movement


Old and new Woodcraft Folk logos

Whilst sharing many of the same historical roots as the Scouting movement, The Woodcraft Folk's direct antecedent was the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, an organisation led by ex-Scout Commissioner for Woodcraft and Camping John Hargrave, who had broken with what he considered to be the Scouts' militaristic approach in the years immediately after the First World War. The Woodcraft Folk was established by Leslie Paul in 1925 after the south London co-operative groups challenged Hargrave's authoritarian tendencies over his refusal to recognise a local group called "The Brockleything" and broke away from the Kindred. In its early days it was very similar to the Kibbo Kift, with a strong pagan and anti-capitalist emphasis, but gradually developed its own distinct ethos.

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.

In 2000 The Woodcraft Folk developed a birthday logo which is square and can be seen on the right. The old, circular logo, also on the right, tends to be favoured by most Woodcraft Folk members (woodies).

The history within the labour movement can be seen in the book produced by the Woodcraft Folk called Fashioning a New World which was commissioned for its 75th birthday. Other historical references exist, cooperative banners a book available from the Rochdale Pioneers museum contains banners of the Woodcraft Folk. The Woodcraft Folk historical records are held at the London School of Economics


The official slogan of The Woodcraft Folk is Span the world with friendship.

Woodcraft is not based upon any particular religious belief or national identity. The organisation welcomes all young people whether they have a religious background or none and much of its work emphasises the importance of international understanding and fellowship. The principles of peace and co-operation are therefore central to everything they do and they endeavour to develop members to have an understanding of some of the issues behind global poverty and conflict in the belief in fashioning a new, better world.

Decision Making

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

The District Fellows (DFs) also have an annual decision making meeting, known as "Althing". This is normally held in October. They have an elected committee where each post is held for two years. Any District Fellow is able to attend and vote on the motions. This is not to say that they are totally independent from the main body of the Woodcraft Folk. District Fellows still have representatives at Annual Gathering, and decisions made there still apply.

Age Groups

Woodcraft Folk groups operate in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Wales the organisation is known as Gwerin y Coed. Groups generally meet weekly, their activities including co-operative games, drama, camping trips, craftwork, singing and dancing, as well as following an educational programme based on the organisation's 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 six. The most recently established age group in the Woodcraft folk the under sixes in the past have been unofficially called Wood pigeons. However with the creation of a official under six section Woodchips as a name was chosen.


Six to nine years old


Ten to twelve years old


Thirteen to fifteen years old

Venturer events are held nationally every 3 years as well as regional events happening more often such as midnight ice skating at in London or North London Venturer Camp. A National Venturer Camp is held every 3 years so every Venturer can go once. Each camp has an overarching theme and runs activities for the Venturers to attend. The last was held in 2005 at Drum Hill Scout Camp.

Year Theme Location
2005 Peace / Hiroshima Remembrance Drum Hill Scout Camp, Derby
2002 Sustainability / Friendship Woodcraft Park Farm, West Sussex
1999 Lake District

District Fellows

Sixteen to twenty years

District Fellows (DFs) operate both on a local group level and as a semi-autonomous movement within the Woodcraft Folk. The age group is largely run by the young people through the DF Committee which runs annually three events as well as the AGM - Althing and three open committee meetings called Forum.

DFs are also responsible for the maintenance of their websiteSpan That World and their campaign which at the moment is combating Climate Change.


The Woodcraft Folk is paid for by weekly subscription from children and young people, adult memberships paid yearly and groups pay annual national registration fees. The Woodcraft Folk has also from its start received substantial support from the Cooperative Movement and is part of Cooperatives UK Template:Wikinews The Woodcraft Folk used to receive a yearly subsidy from the Department for Education and Skills. In 2005, however, the Woodcraft folk lost this grant. The department said that the organisation's claim for a grant lacked detail and that they did not have “sufficiently robust outcome indicators”, meaning that it did not represent a “good value for money”. Although some members of Woodcraft Folk have said that the real reason the funding was stopped is the group's strong stance against the Iraq War. This was the first time in 40 years the organisation was denied funding by the department. The grant money provided a fifth of the funds that helped to pay for Woodcraft Folk's full-time staff and headquarters.

The Woodcraft Folk campaigned to get its funding back and before the May 2005 election was offered a seconded employee from the Department for Education and Skills starting in 2006 for a year and a return to limited funding the year after.

The Woodcraft Folk also receives sporadic funding from grant providers for project work it undertakes such as the London Training grant from the Bridge House Trust. Other recent grants include those for Global Village 2006 from the Department for International Development and the Cooperative Group and for the 18 month Climate Challenge project, provisionally named C-Change, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.



Although a British organisation, it has sister organisations throughout the world, by being a part of the Brussels-based federation of progressive youth organisations, the International Falcon Movement - Socialist Education International (IFM-SEI).

The IFM-SEI links together like-minded progressive youth organisations in many parts of the world, though its strongest affiliates are in Western Europe. It has a small secretariat based in Brussels. The Woodcraft Folk's General Secretary - Andy Piercy sits on the Control Commission of IFM-SEI and Tamsin Pearce is Vice-President of IFM-SEI from the Woodcraft Folk, both of these posts are held until 2007.

International camps where similar organisations can meet up and network are held every year in different countries. Internaional camps take place in England every 5 to 6 years or so.

Voluntary sector

The Woodcraft Folk is affiliated to NCVO, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In the development education, Woodcraft is an affiliate of the Development Education Association (DEA).

Youth service

The main youth ‘quango’ is the NYA, National Youth Agency, to which Woodcraft works closely. The Woodcraft Folk plays an active part in the voluntary youth service, mainly through the NCVYS (pronounced‘nik-vis’), the National Council for Voluntary Youth Service, which also includes groups such as the Scouts and Guides.

The Woodcraft Folk is affiliated to the British Youth Council, at present two members of the Woodcraft Folk's General Council sit on the board of British Youth Council; Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Elle Dodd.

Co-operative movement

The Woodcraft Folk has since its founding had close links with the co-operative movement, and currently receives considerable financial support from various co-op bodies.

Co-operatives UK (formally the Co-operative Union) is the federation of all co-operatives in the UK. The Woodcraft Folk are members of Co-operatives UK and work closely with the Co-operatives UK's College.

The Co-operative College is based in Manchester and is managed by the Board of Management on behalf of the Co-operatives UK, Woodcraft Folk's General Secretary - Andy Piercy currently sits on the board of the Cooperative College.

Peace movement

The Woodcraft Folk are members of the Stop the War Coalition and affiliated to the National Peace Council, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and work closely with many local CND branches.

Outdoor/environmental movements

Affiliations are held with the Ramblers Association (RA), and Woodcraft Folk have a close relationship with Youth Hostels Association (YHA) attending the AGM and other statutory meetings. Woodcraft Folk is affiliated to the Council for Environmental Education (CEE) and the The Central Council of Physical Recreation (UK) (CCPR).

The Forest School Camps (FSC) organisation, which organises democratically-run camps for children and young people, has very similar objectives to the Woodcraft Folk with shared historical links which continue today.

General Secretaries and Chairs

Year General Secretary Chair of General Council
2007 Kirsty Palmer / Andy Piercy (Retiring) Richard Lace
2006 Chris Pyke (Acting) / Andy Piercy Richard Lace
2005 Andy Piercy / Chris Pyke (Acting) Jess Cawley
2004 - 2002 Andy Piercy Tamsin Pearce
2002 - 1999 Andy Piercy Jess Cawley


File:GV block logo.jpg
Global Village 2006 Logo

Every few years Woodcraft Folk hold International and national camps. In 2005 Venturer (age 13-15) camp which takes place every 3 years took place in Derby. In 2001 there was an International Camp (held usually every 5-6 years) it was called Sust’n’Able and was attended by many IFM-SEI organisations.

In 2006 for the first time in 60 years it hosted an official IFM-SEI festival called Global Village 2006. At this festival, dealing with the issues of the Millennium Development Goals and other topics, about 5,000 people attended.

Woodcraft World

Woodcraft World is a seasonal members magazine that brings news from inside the Woodcraft Folk as well as worldwide news on events of interest to members of the Woodcraft Folk. The Woodcraft World Archives can be found on the Official Woodcraft Folk website.

See also

External links