Energised by Conference

Friday, 16 November 2012

As the leaves fell from the trees, the sun shone on 55 Woodcraft members who met in Bristol for Development Conference and Bored Meeting.

Bored Meeting is the series of activities we use to help people in teams and committees work well together, have fun and fair discussions, and take action in an effective way.

Development Conference is our annual (and sometimes more often when we’re lucky!) chance to gather with members from around the UK and make all our groups stronger by sharing the ideas and methods we’re using at a local level. The conference always tries to tackle a challenging aspect of Woodcraft Folk work, and this one was no different, looking at how we induct and support new leaders.


  • We heard lessons and tips from the Volunteer Recruitment pilots completed by 7 Districts with support from Change Agents UK
  • We collated 17 good practice case studies in inducting and supporting leaders
  • We revised the ‘Introducing Woodcraft’ induction course
  • We recommended good practice in the induction and support of new leaders

Conference delegates also got to be the first to input into Woodcraft Folk’s new strategic plan, focusing on sustaining existing Districts, supporting new groups and reaching out to new communities.

Jack Walker, first time Conference delegate, describes his experience:

"Walking into a room full of people you don’t know can be scary. Walking into a room full of people you don’t know who you will be living and working with for a weekend, with an agenda including things like ‘Open Space’ (which I had naively assumed meant a ramble around Bristol) and ‘Action Planning’ is, well...terrifying. 

I have been a Woodie since I was a Woodchip, and after a 5 year lull, I have become an Elfin leader at 24. I was convinced by a friend of mine to attend the recent Development Conference in Bristol as a way to fully reintegrate myself back into the movement. Even as a fairly active DF, I had not been to any national organisational training or planning events so I didn’t know what to expect. Would people talk about things I didn’t understand? Would I have to be quiet and listen to others’ heartfelt, but long-winded speeches? Would I be left on my own, with no one to talk to? (Of course not, we’re all Woodies after all!)

As it turns out, my fears were completely unfounded and I have had one of the most exciting, invigorating and fun weekends since I was an Elfin. With an interesting and important schedule put in place by Debs McMahon, Chloë Darlington and others covering things like how to increase volunteer membership, to improving training and putting ideas forward for Woodcraft’s next strategic plan, the weekend was full of great discussions about how to make Woodcraft better for everyone. The ideas that were shared were great, and the atmosphere was one of excitement because we were all so eager to help our fellow Woodies. It wasn’t just the conference itself that was great either, the location was beautiful, the social time was fun and the people were friendly, welcoming, funny and well… Woodcraft. 

Turns out that walking into a room full of people you don’t know isn’t scary, it’s just yet another opportunity that Woodcraft offers you to be inspired."

For more information about conference outcomes and for a copy of the conference report please contact Deborah.mccahon@woodcraft.org.uk.