Termly Tasks

It is good practice to make sure that everyone involved with the running of the group comes together regularly to review how things are going, resolve any issues or queries that have come up, and plan for the period ahead. Coming together for a meeting at the start or end of every term is a good way to make sure that this happens.
 
Programme Planning

A successful Woodcraft Folk group will have an engaging programme of activities that are rooted in Woodcraft Folk’s Aims & Principles, and that are designed to achieve positive and age-appropriate outcomes for children and young people. This is what will distinguish your group from other clubs or groups that children might attend.
 
If you invest time to plan your group’s activities out in advance they are more likely to:
 
Succeed in delivering the outcomes that you want to achieve
Be safe for children and volunteers alike
Provide enjoyable and rewarding experiences for all concerned
Be seen to be well run, making parents/carers confident in what we do
Reflect well on Woodcraft Folk in your community
Provide a balance over the course of the term, whether between indoor and outdoor activities, hands-on and discussion-based sessions, or energetic and quiet sessions
 
Structuring Your Programme
 
There are many ways to approach creating a programme for your group, but it is best to plan a term or a half term at a time to ensure that there is a suitable mix of activities to suit the varied interests and learning styles of children in your group.
 
You may like to adopt a theme for the term, which will ensure that there is a common thread that runs through your sessions. This could be one of the themes from Woodcraft’s Aims & Principles, one of the test badges (see below), or anything else that your group would like to explore.
 
Alternatively, your programme can explore elements of each of Woodcraft Folk’s Aims & Principles - you could use the Outcome Matrix to keep track of the areas that you cover throughout the term.
 
Woodcraft Folk has produced a wide range of resource packs that you can use for inspiration for your sessions. Your group could decide to work through one of these over the course of a term.
 
When you are planning for the term ahead, it’s also helpful to look back and reflect on your recent sessions. It might be helpful to ask volunteers and young members about:
 
What has gone well
How we could improve on these activities in the future
Whether the activities have achieved the intended outcomes
Whether the activities felt safe
Whether the programme was sufficiently varied
Whether the programme was suitable for all group members
How ‘Woodcrafty’ the term’s programme felt
 
Planning Each Session
 
Often, the planning for a session starts with an idea for the main activity. However, it is also important to consider the outcomes that you hope to achieve during the session. This may have an impact on both what activity you plan, but also how you plan to deliver it. For example, if you are trying build co-operation and teamwork skills, you will want to ask young people to work in small groups rather than on their own.
 
It will be easier for other volunteers to work with you to achieve the intended outcomes if you have shared your plans with them in advance. A simple written session plan is a good way to do this – it might include:
 
The planned outcomes of the session
Details of the main activity
Any games or other activities planned to start or end the session
Who will lead each part activity
The materials or resources required
Which volunteers will do other tasks e.g. take a register, make a snack, lock up the hall
 
There is atemplate that you can use to plan your sessions available to download on the website. This also means that you can keep a record of the sessions that you have run in case you want to repeat or refine them, or share them with other leaders.
 
You will find a wide range of session plans and other group night activities to inspire you on the Woodcraft website – you can search these by theme or by age group.
 
Things to consider
 
Do any of the planned activities pose additional risk? If an activity is more risky than your normal activities (for example, use of sharp tools) or takes place in a different venue, then you should do a risk assessment for the session and consider how you will control these risks. See the ‘Working with Children’ section for more about managing risk.
 
What is your Plan B? Sometimes the unexpected happens – the weather is too bad for an outdoor session, or a key volunteers is ill. Is there an alternative activity that you can do, or will you need to cancel the session?
 
Can you mark significant dates? International Women’s Day, Refugee Week, Fairtrade Fortnight and Black History Month are just some of the annual events that you could theme activities around linked to Woodcraft values.
 
What’s happening in the wider world? Sometimes changing your planned session to reflect things going on in the wider world will be the right thing to do. Children might need to share and discuss their feelings about world events, or something that’s happening in their own community. Woodcraft Folk can provide them with an important space to do this.
 
What resources can we tap into? Volunteers, parents or outside visitors may be able to run an inspiring session using skills from another area of their life, perhaps work, a hobby or other voluntary role. Or they may be able to provide special access to a venue or other resource – a theatre, an art studio or a community allotment.
 
Youth Participation
 
You should consider how to make sure that young people have a chance to influence the programme of the group. See the ‘What is Woodcraft Folk?’ section for some ways that you can incorporate the ideas and views of young members into planning and evaluating your programme.
 
Badgework
 
Woodcraft Folk’s badges can be a useful tool to help with planning and structuring your group’s activities. There are different ranges of badges aimed at Elfins and at Pioneers/Venturers. Woven test badges are available from Folk Supply, and can be ordered online.
 
Some of the badges, such as I Begin, I Belong and Pioneer, focus on showing commitment, being a member, and attending group regularly. Others, such as I Camp, Environment and Community, are thematic, and are earned by acquiring particular skills or knowledge. If Folk Shirts are not generally worn in your group, you can sew badges to Woodcraft Folk sweatshirts or hoodies instead, or make bandanas, sashes or camp blankets to fix badges to.
 
History
 
Traditionally, achieving a range of test badges was an important part of a young member’s participation in a Woodcraft Folk group. Once earned, test badges would be sewn to the left sleeve of a member’s Folk Shirt. In many groups a limit was placed on the number of badges which could be sewn onto the sleeve, to discourage competition between members – if more than this number were earned the oldest badge would be replaced.
 
Major camps, special projects and significant anniversaries are also often marked with fabric badges, which are also available through Folk Supply. These were traditionally sewn onto the opposite sleeve of a Folk Shirt to test badges.
 
Benefits of badgework
 
Many groups use badges in some way as part of their programme of activities. There are many reasons to incorporate some sort badgework into your group:
 
It can help build a sense of belonging to the group, and recognise what children have achieved at Woodcraft Folk
It is a simple way to ensure that activities that link to Woodcraft Folk’s Aims & Principles form a part of your group’s programme
There are lots of existing resources that are linked to badgework themes, so you can run these with your group rather than coming up with session plans from scratch
Working towards a badge over a period of time can provide a theme to help the group’s programme hang together, and provide a sense of continuity for the children, even if sessions are run by different volunteers each week
 
Ways to start using badges
 
There’s not just one ‘correct’ way to approach badgework with a group of young members. Possible approaches include:
 
Getting group members to complete a series of tasks or tests to earn a badge, each child working through these at their own rate within group nights and other activities. These might be the suggested criteria for the badges, or ones you create to meet the needs of your own group. For the Elfin badges, badgework record sheets or individual membership cards are available from Folk Supply to support this approach.
 
Use a badge to provide a theme for a term or half a term’s programme, e.g. Ecologist for a term’s work about the environment and the natural world, or I Camp for a few weeks spent learning skills running up to going away on a summer camp. You can hand out badges to children at the end of the term to celebrate their achievements.
 
Recognise children’s membership by issuing badges when a milestone is reached. The suggested criteria for I Begin, I Am and I Belong include attending an Elfin group regularly for six weeks, three months and one year respectively. The badges depict an acorn, a sapling and a fully grown tree.
 
Take a freestyle approach to earning badges by asking your group what they think a particular badge represents – some of them are figurative, some are very abstract. Ask children to decide what activities they should do to earn a badge on the theme they decide on. You could even take it a step further by making your own designs and creating them with applique, embroidery or fabric paint. Some groups have even obtained external funding to get fabric badges commercially produced.
 
Badges currently available through Folk Supply
 
Elfins Pioneers/Venturers
I Begin
I Am
I Belong
Pioneer
I Lead
Heritage
I See And Know
I Camp
I Hike
Outdoor Education
Health Health
World Friend International Friendship
Community
Peace
Ecologist Environment
Carnival  
 
Other issues
 
There are a range of other things that a Woodcraft Folk group needs to keep on the agenda, and it’s good to revisit these every term or so.  If your group is part of a larger district, there may already be people looking at these, or address these at regular district meetings.
 
Financial planning: How is the group’s cashflow? Have you been successful in collecting subs/donations from parents? Do you need to consider additional fundraising activity?
 
Residential trips: Have you got a camp or weekend away planned? These are good ways for adults and young members to bond, and do more adventurous or ambitious activities that can’t be done at a group night.
 
Training for volunteers: Do volunteers feel that they need more training to perform their role? Are there opportunities to attend training run by Woodcraft Folk, or another organisation in your local area?
 
Staying safe: Have there been any incidents that you need to reflect on? Are your risk assessments up to date and fit for purpose? Are the group’s safeguarding procedures working well?
 
Recruitment: Have you got spaces for more children to join the group? Do you need more volunteers to support your activities? How can you spread the word about what the group does and encourage more members?
 
Communication: It’s good to keep parents/carers, funders and supporters in the loop about your group’s activities. Have you got good news stories you can share via a newsletter, a press release or on social media?