The woodcraft folk are a group of peace loving hippy types I was introduced to as a young boy. They took me camping, helped me develop my confidence and independence and a general love of the outdoors and environmental issues. I am also happy to say they, arranged for me to protest at Greenham Common, a US air base where nuclear weapons were stored, as part of the CND hold-hands-around-the-airbase protest. I was only 10 at the time I think, upon requesting to go to the protest my mum asked me why I wanted to go. Apparently I replied that I wanted to be arrested and put into a police van! My mum agreed on the basis that she didn’t think that was too likely. And as it turned out she was right.
The woodcraft folk taught us how to put a tent up quickly so it wouldn’t fall down or leak in the night. We put up tents of all shapes and sizes and were timed to make sure that we cooperated together to do it quickly. They showed me how to take a tent down and clean the ground sheet as we packed it away, so it didn’t rot the tent when packed away in the bag for months. They also delivered survival skills courses, taught us to read maps and use a compass, and how to build a shelter out of forest material to protect from wind and cold in emergency situations
Altogether this was heaven for a small boy who wanted danger, but whose mother didn’t.
I say thank you because recently the wonderful miss g and I bought ourselves a tent and went camping in Wales for a few days. I found I remembered all the things that I was taught, and used many of the skills they taught me to look after us both and our equipment.
I hope to have the opportunity to continue to pass on this knowledge onto young people, as I have done on several occasions at Quaker camps in years past. I am toying with the idea of investigating current woodcraft groups in our local area, I think I would gain much by rolling back the years and being involved with them as an adult organiser.
So I leave you with some images of our beautiful tent, and, if the iPad gallery feature works on this gadget of mine, the woodcraft folk badge.
I will have to try and dig out a green shirt I once had with badges sewn into it …