Hundreds of young people embrace co-operation at Woodcraft Folk summer camp

'On camp, the pressures and challenges of the outside world disappeared. Together we created a community enacting the world as we want it to be'

Almost 300 young people aged 13-17 spent a week in August embracing co-operative values at the Venturer Camp, organised by youth movement Woodcraft Folk. 

From 5-12 August, 299 young people attended the camp at Biblins Youth Campsite in the Wye Valley. With no phone signal on site, participants could disconnect from the digital world and connect with nature and one another. 

The event was organised “by young people, for young people”. Young members of the charity took on roles such as co-ordinators, running workshops on topics including arts and climate action, organising the week’s food for campers and leading on logistical planning. 

Young co-operators round the campfire (Image: Alex Baird)

Activities included bushcraft, clothes dyeing, rock climbing, canoeing, storytelling and art therapy. 

An activism tent hosted topical workshops such as a climate session hosted by the Green Party’s Ellie Chowns, and a workshop on climate activism and creative writing led by local author Alan Oberman. A session on pollution in rivers and sustainable farming was delivered by Mike Dunsbee and Nick Day of Friends of the Lower Wye.

In honour of the 90th anniversary of the Co-operative Women’s Guild’s white poppy, the camp invited attendees to create their own white poppy wreath and learn about the roots of the white poppy in the co-operative movement. 

Woodcraft Folk, which celebrates its centenary in 2025, is a movement for children and young people that promotes values of co-operation, peace, education for social change and the protection and understanding of the natural world. 

CEO Deb McCahon described the camp as an “uplifting experience”, adding: “We really could not achieve such a camp without the support of hundreds of volunteers. Volunteers who are engaged in fundraising, booking train tickets, driving vans and those who give up their time to be on site supporting our camp community to function.”

McCahon also gave special mention to 19-year-old camp coordinator Thomas Boxall. 

Boxhall said: “On camp, the pressures and challenges of the outside world disappeared. Together we created a community enacting the world as we want it to be. When I started volunteering with Woodcraft it was to pay back some of the amazing experiences it gave me, but now it is so much more than that. Now it is where I have met some of my best friends, somewhere I feel I have the power and ability to change things.”

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