Woodcraft Folk has been running for over 95 years, it still bears a strong resemblance to the first groups that were set up in 1924-1925 in south London.
As Woodcraft Folk prepares for its centenary members, partners and other interested folk are encouraged to explore our first 90 years through our interactive archive on our Heritage Site.
Enjoy Woodcraft Folk’s story as it unfolds through film, oral histories and memorabilia. The story begins in 1925 with a group of young activists, with big ideas, and goes on to become a movement based on co-operation, peace and international friendship.
Engage with the archive, share your discoveries and memories to help others see how Woodcraft Folk’s aims and principles continue to shape our work with children and young people.
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.
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.
"A camp city will spring up in a lovely riverside meadow. The green-clad Folk, with their gay banners and tents will make a living pageant. There will be shops, a theatre and a craft show. Sports, festivities, plays, dancing, woodcraft training will all take place... Why not visit it and see the remarkable educational work of the Woodcraft Folk?"
We’ve changed over the past century, but draw on our heritage and what we’ve learnt as we move forward.