Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Good for your Elf(in)? The Woodcraft Folk set to launch in Lancaster


Moves are afoot to form a Lancaster group of the Woodcraft Folk, a great organisation for children and young people, based on co-operative, environmental values.

The group is the project of Damian Randle and partner Silvia, who moved to Lancaster a couple of years ago and their 4½-year-old is coming ready to enjoy being a Woodchip, and then later an Elfin.

Wait, a what? Read on...

The Woodcraft Folk have been going since 1924 and there are now 400+ groups in the UK, the nearest of which is at Ulverston. They believe passionately in equality and co-operation and every week thousands of volunteers and young people meet in school halls, community venues and a host of other places to play games, sing, take part in drama, discussions, projects and crafts, and learn about local and global issues in a fun, entertaining way.

Activities might include a night walk for younger children so they can experience the sounds of a wood, park or city in the dark, making lanterns to light round a campfire, cooking - a good opportunity to learn about Fair Trade food and how it affects farmers.

The aim is to have great fun, but also to try and develop children’s self-confidence and build their awareness of society and the environment around them. Their activities, outings and camps help children and young people understand important issues like the environment and - crucially - by encouraging children to think, they hope they will help build a peaceful, fairer world.

Group nights are run by adult volunteers, parents and young people - with a lot of excellent back-up and resources from paid staff - and usually last between one and two hours, depending on the age of the children or young people.

There are different groups, according to age. Under 6’s are known as Woodchips, 6 to 9 year-olds are known as Elfins, 10 to 12 year olds are Pioneers, 13 to 15 year olds are Venturers and at 16-20 are the DFs (or District Fellows), who are more autonomous and usually arrange their own activities as well as helping with the younger groups.

There are also organised hostelling and camping weekends throughout the year and camping is a large focus in the summer holidays. Woodcraft Folk groups from across a town, region and sometimes across the UK come together for summer camps, where members of all ages take responsibility for cooking, cleaning and organising activities.Many of the young people join international camps and exchanges too.

The ‘Woodies’ are a bit different from other groups. They are groups are run co-operatively, with children, young people and adults working together to learn about the world and develop skills and confidence, united by our shared values of peace, co-operation and equality. The aim is to provide an informal and supportive environment for young people to develop their ideas, share experiences, explore opportunities and make life-long friends locally and beyond.

The Woodcraft Folk costume is a green top with a logo. Children can choose to wear the traditional green shirt, “woodie hoodies” or t-shirts designed by young members.

• If you might be interested in joining a group of parents to set up a Lancaster group, check out the website mentioned above, and then contact Damian at d.j.randle@gmail.com or 07811 089878), telling him your impossible dates in late-September / early October and he will arrange a meeting