Nottingham Volunteer Induction January 2020

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Debs McCahon, Woodcraft Folk's Director of Development, met 6 new members from Nottingham Woodcraft Folk on a dark, damp night only a stone’s throw from the Nottingham Forest/City Ground Stadium.


Debs began the session by sharing the welcome to Woodcraft Folk resources. and responded to the volunteers’ burning questions, which included:


  • What do we do about First Aid training? Debs’ advice was to risk assess the venue and activity to identify what type of First Aid training is required – this may change on the medical needs of participants, the type of activity or tools used as well as the distance to the nearest medical support. Debs recommended a basic Paediatric First Aid course delivered by the British Red Cross for group nights and a more thorough Sports & Leisure First Aid course delivered by St John’s for camps and outdoor adventures.
  • What other training is available? Woodcraft Folk provides both online and face to face training. The next residential for new volunteers is taking place at Cudham 17th-19th April. Other training (online modules, webinars and self-led session plans) can be found at
  • Badges – should we verify achievement of tasks and activities or just take a view of our whole group? Debs described Woodcraft Folk’s co-operative approach to badgework, explaining that it was about group knowledge and not individual knowledge/skill development. For more information about badges visit
  • Do we need to a minimum number of training sessions or contact with Woodcraft Folk? All volunteers must undertake safeguarding training (either online of through a locally facilitated session), other training is optional. Debs recommended that group members linked up with local Districts, regional and national activities to share best practice.
  • How can we raise funds so that all members of the group can go on camp? Debs recommended apply for the Central England Coop Community Dividend and exploring how best to use Gift Aid to generate additional income. For more information on funding visit For Gift Aid advice visit
  • What happens when some kids outgrow Elfins? Debs recommended that the group can be flexible about age limits, but to ensure sustainability and retention they needed to plan for a Pioneer group.
  • How can we encourage participation? Debs identified it takes time, but being clear about what the group is and expects in terms of behaviour is a good start. Write a group agreement, involve children in choosing programme activities and even leading some of their favourite games. Divide roles between the group, ask one adult who is not leading the activity to manage behaviour, diverting children who are not participating. Provide an alternative e.g. craft, reading. Sessions plans for creating group agreements can be found at
  • How can we encourage listening in circle time? Debs shared experience of other groups, including starting with smaller circles (shorter and in clans) enabling the children to practice and develop the skills (increasing the length and number of circle participants). Debs also shared that some groups used snacks, talking sticks or speech tokens.
  • What is Woodcraft Folk? A movement for young people committed to education for social change. As a charity we facilitate 300 local youth groups and manage 6 residential centres with a shared curriculum based on co-operation, Children’s Rights, peace, internationalism, equality and sustainable development. To watch a short film visit
  • Is 5 or 6 years old too young to go on a camp without a parent? There is no rule in Woodcraft Folk, but all activity needs to be risk assessed. Leaders need to be confident that they have the experience and relationships with children to support them in a residential setting. Debs recommended starting with a sleepover and then moving on to a hostel before camping. A camp environment can be so different from a child’s norm that it becomes overwhelming (no bed, no walls, new sounds, not with their main carer, bathrooms are different, food is different). Keep it simple and go at the pace of the children.
  • Can we only charge £2? As a group you can charge whatever subs you need to – it is important that groups are financially sustainable, although we do need to make sure we do not create financial barriers to participation. Ask for a suggested donation based on true costs (including subsidies). Create subsidies for families or those on low income. See budget tracker at


The Q&A moved on to a ‘True or False’ activity exploring ‘what is Woodcraft Folk?’


  • Woodcraft Folk was established by a group of young people in 1925. TRUE


  • Children can only attend a Woodcraft Folk group if their parent is willing to volunteer. FALSE


  • Woodcraft Folk groups are divided into age groups e.g. Woodchips, Elfins, Pioneers, Venturers and DFs. TRUE


  • Woodcraft Folk groups can only charge £1 in session fees. FALSE


  • Nottingham Woodcraft Folk is in the Midlands Region, whose nearest groups are Leicester, Peterborough, Derby and Sheffield. TRUE


  • Woodcraft Folk is a member of the International Falcon Movement. TRUE


  • All Woodcraft Folk groups must complete badgework activities. FALSE


  • Woodcraft Folk is a uniformed youth organisation. TRUE


  • Young people must wear a Woodcraft Folk uniform at group. FALSE


  • All Woodcraft Folk groups go camping. FALSE


  • Woodcraft Folk supports the Fridays for a Future school strikes. TRUE


  • Woodcraft Folk is all about getting children out into the countryside. FALSE


  • Woodcraft Folk is run by volunteers. TRUE


  • Woodcraft Folk is funded by the Co-operative Movement and various other donations/grants. TRUE



Debs then shared Woodcraft Folk’s outcomes matrix, which seeks to highlight the different learning outcomes for each aim and principle by age group. The matrix shows the developmental nature of our education and helps to focus activities so they are age appropriate for group members. For more details visit


Other useful resources: