Programme Planning

You're in one of the main sections of Woodcraft Folk's New Group Journey training module. The most important points to remember are listed first, and following that is a fuller explanation of what you need to do in this area. There are many different ways of doing things in Woodcraft Folk, so we've included only the essential guidance in this module, leaving you to develop your own methods to suit your group.

Links to individual resources are in bold green, and you should read each of these for a full understanding of good practice. Links to other pages of the website are in non-bold green.

Use the Ask for Help link to request help on a particular topic, or request a Twin group with whom you can share ideas and joint activities.

This module works alongside a checklist, timeline and guidance sheets for you to print out and work through. Download the programme planning guidance sheet



Introduction

The activities your group does each week can be hugely varied and inspired by just about anything. Two of your main sources of inspiration will probably be Woodcraft Folk's aims and principles and the interests of children and young people themselves. You can also draw on the skills of the volunteers you have available - some may be creative, some may enjoy running games and others may have practical skills or specialised knowledge they can share. The shape of a typical group night is outlined in our New group FAQs.

Download example programme plans here

Key things to remember

  • Involve the group
  • Refer to the Aims & Principles
  • Ask other members and groups for ideas
  • Venture out into the community


Decision-making

You should involve the children or young people in your group in choosing what activities the group does each week. You'll probably want to do this at the end of the previous term, and decide the whole of the next term's activities so you can make sure the people, equipment and space you need are available and confirmed in advance. There are some great resources and session plans to help you involve all ages in making decisions like this: Follow the trail and choose it, plan it do it are great places to start. 


Co-operative games

Co-operative games are a vital part of Woodcraft Folk, teaching members of all ages to work together positively - they aren't just for entertainment and breaking up the serious stuff!

To get you started, there are lots of co-operative games in the Games Games Games book (available from Folk Supply) and another set in the Games Games Games DVD (available from Folk Office). Games are a good way of giving the youngest members of the group a chance to choose and run their own activity, so once everyone knows a few games you could invite individual members to co-ordinate a game at the start or end of a group night.


Ideas for activities

Woodcraft Folk has produced many books of activities, some according to age group and some according to topic. Many are available to download from our Issuu stack Group Activities and also can be posted to you from Folk Office. If you're part of a District, it's likely other groups will have copies of books like Activities for Pioneers or Bushcraft for Venturers they can lend you.

You can also get ideas for activities from individual activity plans in the website Resources section Group Night Activities. Feel free to log in and comment on any that you try and have ideas for developing! Activities are tagged according to the age group they're suitable for and the topic, so you can search for one of our principles, for example 'peace' or 'friendship' to find related activities.

The time of year may also suggest certain activities to you - for example nature walks when the weather is good, or Refugee Week which is usually in June. The UN has a list of international observance days you could theme a group night around. If your District Camp is coming up, you could spend a session helping the group devise a game or workshop to run for the rest of the District there. 

Other groups and events in Woodcraft Folk can also offer you topics and activities for your programme. Keep an eye on the online calendar so you know whether it's time to run activities preparing for Annual Gathering, or whether a new campaign has been launched which wants your group's support. You can join Woodcraft Folk's Facebook group to see what other members are discussing and post questions / requests for ideas.


Space and equipment

Most group night activities shouldn't need expensive equipment or materials. It's a good idea for helpers to keep bits and bobs like containers, fabric, pens and glue so they can be easily brought to a group night for craft activities. Beyond that, you may want to spend a little bit of money on a parachute and some basics like a ball or bean bags. 

Hopefully the room where you meet has space for running around safely as well as more sedentary activities. It's great if there is outdoor space attached for some energetic games when the weather is warm enough. Woodcraft Folk groups often venture beyond their meeting place for walks and visits to other organisations - just make sure you've thought about keeping everyone safe

Read guidance on how to find a good venue.

Don't forget that Folk Supply sells things like flags, torches and sports discs. Nearby Districts may also be able to lend you equipment - so do ask around. Try the Facebook group 


The wider community

You can vary your term's programme by inviting people from other community organisations to come and run an activity for your group. Some groups have a regular arrangement with their local nature reserve or community orchard, for example, so the group can learn about wildlife and conservation. You could ask around for useful contacts other volunteers might have, look online for local community groups or see what other groups meet at the same venue as you. 


Beyond the weekly group night

Once your group has been meeting for a while, and especially if you're working with older children and young people, members might want to take on something more challenging like a trip, a project or supporting a campaign. This will take a bit more time and planning, but be really rewarding for members and enable them to feel that they're really putting Woodcraft Folk's aims and principles into practice. It also gives members the chance to use weekly meetings to do something more sustained, building up to something they've created themselves.

Have a look at www.woodcraft.org.uk/youth-led-projects for lots of ideas and guidance on starting a group project. And check www.woodcraft.org.uk/campaigns for the issues that the Folk are currently campaigning on. Alternatively, there might be various local issues that the group wants to support, for example counteracting negative stereotypes of young people, supporting fair trade or establishing their own allotment.

If your group isn't part of a District that has regular camps for the group to go on, why not team up with another group or District and suggest a joint trip? Find nearby groups on the online map and click through to their page to get their contact details. Alternatively, use the Ask for Help link on the right to request a Twin group you can swap ideas with.


Feel as though you understand how it works? Take the quiz.