Camping then and now

Camping is a big part of the Woodcraft Folk calendar, and as these extracts from a programme for a 'Mass Camp' in 1933 near Ross on Wye show, things haven't changed that much over the last 80 years...

The camp was to take place in a meadow beside the Wye river, where it flows in a five-mile loop, a "beautiful flat stretch of fifty-six acres flanking the river side, possessing a safe, shingled paddling beach... There is plenty of room in the meadow for games and a spacious lay out of the camp".

A publicity leaflet declares: "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?"

The organiser says "We want to get the Folk together for a healthy time and weeks of camp comradeship and also so that they may meet each other and the leaders - some of whom have never been seen - who have built the movement up from its foundation in 1925. Then we were but a handful. Now we are a strong national organisation. It's worth celebrating."

"We shall try to organise you in small groups according to your interests - sketching groups, nature study groups, handicraft groups etc... Though you will have free time, we shall want you to do some work so that we can show the country what sort of an organisation we are. A great deal of the success of the camp will depend on your keenness beforehand."

It's not clear who wrote the camp programme, but they were certainly keen to get volunteers involved. "If the camp is a success, you must get busy organising right away. You have five months."

The 1933 camp lasted three weeks, with the ninth Althing in the middle. In the evening campers were entertained by plays performed by Woodcraft Folk groups and visiting local choirs and dramatic groups. And it was one of the first camps with an international element too:

"Parties of Red Falcons and members of various Youth Organisations on the Continent are expected to be present. You will have splendid opportunities for making friends with brothers and sisters from other countries."

21st Century Woodcraft campers would probably  not feel too out of place if transported back to Ross on Wye in 1933.