History

Harrow Woodcraft Folk

The Harrow District was first established in 1932 and we celebrated our 88th anniversary in 2020.

 You can see Harrow Woodcraft Folk history at the following link History of HWCF

The Woodcraft Folk

As an organisation, the woodcraft folk is over 100 years old. Its roots go back to round about 1900, when Ernest Thompson Seton began his work with young north Americans. This is where many woodcraft ideologies come from, such as our aims to live in harmony with the earth.

The first proper woodcraft group was set up in 1925; it was based on the scout movement but rejected the religious and military associations that came with it. Since then, the woodcraft folk have spread all over the UK and we have sister organisations all over the world. Our beliefs and principles are even more relevant today, as concern for the environment and our planet's ecosystem becomes more and more crucial to our society.

The woodcraft folk's main beliefs are centered around the idea of democracy, and instead of adults bossing around the children, our groups teach children how to decide both for and amongst themselves what they would like to do. On a larger scale, national decisions concerning the woodcraft folk are made at annual conferences, which are attended by delegates from local groups. we also have a National Council, staffed by members of the 'folk, who also contribute to running the organisations.

Woodcraft Folk still bears a strong resemblance to the first groups that were set up in 1924-1925 in south London. We have been a registered charity since 1965.

Back then it was fairly radical for a youth movement to include both boys and girls, which is how Woodcraft Folk has always been, though today it is becoming more mainstream.

And our strong camping tradition - particularly encouraging young people who live in big cities to go camping and explore the great outdoors - goes back to the very early days of the movement.

How we began 

Just after the First World War one of the leading figures in the Scouting movement broke away from what he considered to be its militaristic approach and formed the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift.

Kibbo Kift included people of all ages, not just youths, and was open to both sexes. John Hargrave, who founded it, believed the open-air life would help urban people build a new world peace. But not all members agreed with Hargrave's leadership and in 1924, led by 19-year-old Leslie Paul, some co-operative groups from South London broke away and set up their own organisation, calling it The Woodcraft Folk. It had similarities to the Kibbo Kift, but gradually developed its own character and ethos.

The name

 The term '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 it meant the skill of living in the open air, close to nature - rather than that of making things out of wood.

 Our logo

 Our logo is round to symbolize equality and democracy, with two trees representing young people. It is set against a rising sun, to show the young people growing into the new world based on equality, justice and peace.

The co-operative movement

 Since its founding, the Woodcraft Folk has had close links with the co-operative movement, which still supports us financially. We are a member of Co-operatives UK, which groups together all the worker and consumer co-operatives in the UK. 

The Woodcraft Folk heritage site

The Woodcraft Folk carried out a history project In 2003.  The Woodcraft Folk undertook a project to digitise the archive material dating back the 1920s.  You can find articles at the following website.  http://heritage.woodcraft.org.uk

Visit the Woodcraft Folk heritage site for thousands of documents charting Woodcraft Folk through the years, activities to help you explore our history and opportunities to share your memories of the Folk with other Woodcraft Folk. 

There is a brief video of the history of the folk called The Early Years of Woodcraft Folk (1925-1985). http://vimeo.com/38327735 Founder of the co-operative children's movement, Woodcraft Folk, Leslie Paul gives a fascinating illustrated lecture 3 months before his death on the origins and early years of the organisation.