Although we spend a lot of time 'learning' at Woodcraft Folk, it isn't 'school' and we have to take a very different approach. The children will have spent many hours in a regimented, safe, learning environment at school before they arrive at Woodcraft Folk. They are likely to be tired, but also looking forward to meeting and playing with friends. As adult leaders we have an agenda: we want 'learning' to happen, but it has to be led by the children themselves, and as we all know, leadership can be a very political thing.
As Elfin leaders, it can be frustrating and at times we let our guard down and show those frustrations, but the truth is that our young people don't get enough time to either play with adults, or to lead activities with them. In a mixed adult/child environment they are also used to adults providing both leadership and activities for them. We as adult 'leaders' need to provide a safe environment, but more than anything else, we need to provide opportunities for all the elfins to lead for themselves. And when they do, the results are nearly always stunning.
We gave three Elfins the task of preparing a report for the Woodcraft AGM recently. With very little support they worked together for half an hour preparing their five minute presentation. In the end they barely worked from the notes they made, as they had memorised both the jokes and the more serious stuff. It was a rewarding moment for all of us to hear our Elfins reflecting the values and fun that we, as adult leaders, want our younger elfin leaders to learn.
Thanks Daniel, Jago & Seth