We know that many Venturer leaders find it challenging to address difficult and challenging issues with 13 to 15 year olds in Woodcraft Folk. This resource is designed to help explore some of these issues which concern young people at a level they can relate to and learn from. We hope it will give you ideas and confidence in educating for social change.
Each session in the PDF has been set out with a warm up activity, one or more main activities, and then some discussion points with timings given as a guideline. This is not intended to be a format that your group must stick to; please adapt the sessions to your group’s needs and take what you need.
What Is a Venturer?
Venturers is the 13-15 age group of young people in Woodcraft Folk. Any young person in that age group can join a Venturer group and benefit from having fun with a group of peers and being part of the dynamic Woodcraft Folk movement.
But being a Venturer is about more than just an age group. being a Venturer also means being part of Woodcraft Folk and everything it stands for. It means engaging with this wider movement and working with other like-minded young people. It means being part of an amazing community where you can learn new things and meet inspiring people.
In Woodcraft Folk, Venturers meet and do activities with their local group, go on trips or camps, have fun and make long lasting friendships. The great thing about Venturers is that you can do anything that you like – many group programmes are entirely based on the Venturers’ suggestions and young people can run lots of it themselves. Some favourite activities include games, bushcraft, camping, art activities and discussions about things that are important to Venturers.
Some Venturers also start to develop their own involvement with Woodcraft Folk; starting to help out with younger age groups and often linking up for the first time with Woodcraft Folk members from around the country, at exciting events like Venturer Camp and Annual Gathering.“Venturers is an opportunity to really be an active part of Woodcraft and make a difference”, says Jess, a Venturer from Cambridge. “Whether you want to plan your own group nights or get involved in a national campaign, Venturers is a great way to have new experiences and broaden your horizons.”
Outcomes for a Venturer
Lily, a Venturer from Bradford says, “Being a Venturer has made me a lot more confident and given me a more informed and involved attitude”. When asked what difference being a Venturer has made on their outlook, other Venturers added that it opens your mind to new ideas and possibilities, makes you more aware of other people around you and gives you a great sense of confidence.
For Venturers, learning about the world in a fun and informal way, being with friends, and having a place to feel safe and be able to voice their opinions are particularly important. For Woodcraft Folk as a whole, Venturers is a key stage for young people in considering what the Woodcraft Folk aim of ‘education for social change’ means for their lives, and in starting to develop leadership skills.
“Being a Venturer has given many people a wider outlook on life and also teaches us many subjects that we aren’t taught in school”, says Arwyn from Machynlleth as he sums up this empowering mix of outcomes. “Venturers get a lot out of Woodcraft activities. Firstly and quite importantly they are fun and entertaining. They are very educational as well. Also they teach both life and social skills for the future. I know that personally I have gained a lot of confidence from being a Venturer and from the various camps and activities that I have taken part in.”
Woodcraft Folk groups are run co-operatively, with children, young people and adults working together to learn about the world and develop skills and confidence, united by shared values of co-operation and equality. This is particularly important in the Venturer age group, as young people take a more active role in facilitating their own activities, in preparation for being self-organising as DFs (District Fellows) post-16.
because developing self-confidence and leadership skills is a key part of the Venturer experience and development, the role of the group leader is often more facilitative than leading, as in younger age groups. Step back and guide the Venturers through the processes and decisions which will affect how the group is run and what activities are on the programme. There are lots of ideas for running participative discussion and planning sessions in ‘Choose it, Plan it, Do it!’ available from www.woodcraft.org.uk /resources
Since most DFs run their groups without additional support from adult volunteers, and also often start to take on other leading roles within their district or wider Woodcraft Folk, it’s also really important that Venturers begin to develop the skills and confidence that will help them with this. Leading for the Future is a Woodcraft Folk programme of developmental activities for Venturers and DFs that groups can work through together during weekly meetings, or on weekends away. Leading for the Future comes with a booklet full of activity plans that you can use to run the sessions and fold-out accompanying booklets for each Venturer to chart their progress. Visit www.woodcraft.org.uk/leadingforthefuture to find out more.
Education for Social Change
Woodcraft Folk seeks to develop a critical awareness of the world. All volunteers and staff strive to support children and young people to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills necessary for them to act to secure their equal participation in the democratic process that will enable them to bring about the changes that they feel are necessary to create a more equal and caring world.
This is taken directly from the aims and principles of Woodcraft Folk and can seem a grand ambition, so just exactly how does a volunteer youth worker achieve this goal?
A tried and tested model for introducing and supporting young people to explore new topics would be to sit the group in a circle:
Introduction: Share some stimuli, for example, an object to touch/eat, a film to watch, photographs, an individual to tell their story. When choosing a stimulus think how the group can hear, feel, smell, touch and see the theme or issue.
thinking time: Give the group a few moments to reflect on the stimulus. Ask the group to think about how the stimulus makes them feel, what does it make them think of?
shared reflection: now encourage the group to share their responses with their neighbour or as a small group.
formulation: once the group have shared their initial response, ask them to consider what they want to know about the object or theme. Encourage the group to write down a list of questions.
Questioning: Get each group to share their questions and prioritise them, choosing maybe just one per group to consider or research.
first words: After a period of time ask the group to open up the discussion. You may find it useful to use a talking stick if your group often talk over each other.
final words: Ask all group members to share a final word or sentence. This may include what they have learnt/what they think about the issue, or what they might like to do next e.g. find out more about the topic.
This approach supports young people, individually and as a group, to:
- identify the problem/issue for themselves
- to test their assumptions in a supportive environment
- begin to formulate their own ideas and views by raising questions for themselves
- communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
The process as described will lead to the development of critical thinking skills amongst participants. Critical Thinking occurs whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. Critical Thinking is a way to respond to life and society issues. Critical Thinking is one route to education for social change.