Still trying to save the world at 75

25th February 2000 at 00:00
WINNING that elusive orienteering badge may be the aim of every Scout and Brownie, but members of the Woodcraft Folk are more likely to sport a CND badge.

While other children's organisations are tying knots and swearing allegiance to the Queen, the radical children's society, which celebrates its 75th birthday this week, wants to save the planet.

Causes it has espoused include the case of a native American who was jailed 24 years ago after a reservation shoot-out, the persecution of Western Saharawis by Moroccan occupying forces and a boycott of Nestle products in protest at its marketing of baby milk in developing countries.

The basic aims, beliefs and quaint name of the organisation have remained unchanged since it was founded by former Scout Leslie Paul as an alternative to the single-sex, military-style rganisation of other youth movements.

It has about 10,000 members, aged six to 20, in 500 groups around the country.

Peace, human rights and green issues are the staple diet of its members who are classified as wood pigeons, elfins, pioneers, venturers and district fellows. New developments this year include an anti-racist website.

There is still a strong emphasis on outdoor activities but rather than "Ging Gang Gooli" round the campfire, the Folk's official song book contains American civil right protest anthems as well as more traditional ditties.

The society's motto "Span the World with Friendship" has led to ties with children in the slums of the Peruvian capital Lima, hosting holidays for refugees from Africa's forgotten war in the Western Sahara and working in poor villages in Sri Lanka.


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