The Woodcraft Folk is a youth movement often likened to the Guides and Scouts. It was founded in 1925 by a teenager called Leslie Paul who broke away from an existing youth organisation and, with others in South London, established the first Woodcraft Folk groups. They became the first nationwide youth organisation to accept both boys and girls, and members of any religion or none. Since then Woodcraft Folk has been the UK's only national, co-operative youth movement.

It has been a registered charity since 1965 and is a national organisation made up of regions and local groups (known as “districts”).

The objects of the organisation are the advancement of education and the empowerment of children and young people for the public benefit by: • encouraging children and young people to participate in society, improving their lives and others through active citizenship; and

• promoting the interests and welfare of children and young people The Woodcraft Folk has groups for Woodchips (below 6 years old), Elfins (6 to 9 year olds), Pioneers (10 to 12 year olds), Venturers (13 to 15 year olds) and District Fellows (16 to 18 year olds).

There are established groups meeting in Bromley and Southwark, but currently none in Croydon.

That is about to change.

Local grandmother, Ro Marsh, had some experience of Woodcraft Folk from the 1980s, when her own daughter joined, attended meetings and went on camps. Ro explained that, over the last few months, she asked via social media if parents of local children would be interested in Woodcraft Folk in the North of Croydon and was “delighted at how much interest was expressed, particularly in groups for children below 6, and for the 6-9 age. I was particularly thrilled to discover how many local parents were themselves involved with Woodcraft Folk as children, and now want that experience for their own children.“ Several of those local parents and carers have now joined the Woodcraft Folk, and are gearing themselves up to lead regular meetings. There have already been a couple of fundraising events, including attending Cypress School fair, where the group ran a lucky dip, archery practice, and craft activities. Another event was a nature walk in Grangewood Park, which Ro Marsh reports “was very well attended, and which all the children enjoyed.”

The South Norwood District of the Woodcraft Folk is now set up, and will start weekly meetings with children from mid September. Initially, the meetings will be on a Monday in the Waterside Centre, which is next to South Norwood Lake. Ro reports “we were very keen to use the hall at the Waterside Centre, because we think it is ideal for the younger children. It is a space that is already very popular and we were lucky to be able to find a time when we could use the hall and the outside area around it.”

If there is enough interest, there will also be meetings for children from 6 until 12 at Stanley Halls on Thursdays.

As well as the weekly meetings, there will be outdoor activities, park walks, hostel and camping trips.

Anyone interested in knowing more about the local groups, should email

Submitted by Ro Marsh