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Group night activities to prepare for Annual Gathering What is Annual Gathering? Annual Gathering is a two day event which happens every year. It’s the only annual camp which gathers Woodcraft Folk of all ages from right across the UK. It is also the setting for our national Annual Conference, or AGM. During the conference the delegates (people representing each Woodcraft Folk group and district) discuss how Woodcraft Folk works and what we do as an organisation. Their decisions help to direct, and make changes to, Woodcraft Folk activity and policy for groups, districts, General Council and the staff. Annual Gathering and the Conference are big, exciting events to take part in, and any member of Woodcraft Folk, young or old can join in. Each group is allowed to have one delegate to represent them (along with any number of ‘visitors’ – non-delegates from groups) – but it can be helpful to discuss the ‘motions’ (proposals put to the conference to change or confirm what Woodcraft Folk says or does) as a group beforehand so that the delegate can represent everyone’s views when they vote.

What is this resource? After a motion was passed in 2009, asking that Annual Gathering and Conference is made more accessible to Venturers, these resources were prepared before Annual Gathering 2010 to provide ideas for pre-AG group activities. Those of us who worked on them were aware that there’s a lot of variety between Venturer groups across the country, and that different people enjoy working in different ways. Therefore, we wanted to provide a varied ‘menu’ of activities that groups could pick and choose from, trying the sessions that would work best for them. This pack contains a range of activity ideas – presented as a menu, with ‘recipes’ to explain how to run each activity.

How do I use this pack? Use these group activities to prepare for the next Annual Gathering – or for your District AGM. These activities were designed with Venturers in mind, but would work equally well for DFs, and with some small adjustments, for Pioneer groups too. Each activity on the menu has a suggested time allowance marked beside it, all between 10 and 30 minutes. The idea is that either you could have a whole group night to prepare for Annual Gathering, in which you could run a series of 3 or 4 activities, or if time is short, you could do a quick 10 minute session to consult or prepare the group during a gap in a group night which is devoted to another activity. Either select your activities in advance, or take the menu (which gives brief descriptions of each option) along to the group and let them choose what they’d like to do. And finally, a reminder that all the activities are guides, and ideas – and can be adapted, edited, or ‘seasoned’ as much as you like to suit your group. Mix and match them all to get a good session plan!


~~ Menu ~~ A selection of delicious group night activities for the approach to Annual Gathering Starters Representing others 15-20 minutes This challenging and thought provoking starter provides an insight into how we represent other people and what it feels like to be represented. Prioritising Motions For Discussion 5-10 minutes Have you ever felt there is just too much choice? Well have a taste of many of the motions that will make up this Annual Gathering and decide which you want to discuss. Agree - Disagree Line 10 minutes Sample opinions from around the room with this polarising dish which sees ideas discussed in a visually appealing way.

Main Courses Question Time - With Guest Speakers 10-30 minutes This provides a sophisticated flavour to the evening’s proceedings and allows you to grill experts on the motions up for debate. For and Against Debates 20-30 minutes No more clunking conversation starters at this dinner table. Here you will vivaciously debate cuttingedge issues, getting an idea of all sides of the argument. Body Mapping 15 minutes In this creative and delectable dish we offer you a look at what is important in those standing for election, so your representative can judge who has these qualities.

Specials Mock Debate 30 minutes This seasonal special offers the chance to partake in a delightfully orchestrated mock debate, allowing you to sample all the flavours of this key part of Annual Gathering. Mock Open Space 30 minutes If the traditional favourites fail to wet your palate, then here is something a little newer and perhaps a little edgier to sink your teeth into, allowing you to try a delicious ‘open space’ discussion.

Desserts Test Your Delegate 10-20 minutes What could be sweeter than seeing how your delegate will represent you on the motions you have discussed, or helping them think of arguments that will floor Annual Gathering with their brilliance? Look To The Future 10 minutes Finish your evening by reflecting on the future after Annual Gathering and what lies in store for the Woodcraft Folk. We hope that you enjoy your meal - and remember that everything on the menu is suitable for both Venturers and vegetarians, but can be seasoned to taste or even adapted to suit other requirements.


Recipes for group night activities Starters Representing others 15-20 minutes Ingredients:  Small pieces of paper  Hat  Pens  Passionate Venturers First, take the passions of the Venturers (anything they feel strongly about - from world poverty to friendship) - each person will write theirs on a piece of paper, without showing anyone else. Fold the papers and toss for 30 seconds in the hat. Once thoroughly tossed, dish out to Venturers (1 each) to read to themselves. Leave Venturers to simmer for 3-5 minutes; enough time think of 3 short points about why the thing that some else has put on the paper is important. Take it in turns to present these three points. Finally, reflect as a group on how it felt to have to speak on someone else's behalf and

hear someone else representing you. Prioritising Motions For Discussion 5-10 minutes Ingredients:  List of Motions  Pen  Sheets of paper  Venturers To prepare, paste the title (or a summary) of each motion onto individual sheets of paper and set aside. At group night, arrange them in a big circle on the floor. Everyone gets 3 ‘votes’ which allow them to move the motions they want to discuss as a group in one step at a time towards the centre of the circle. Separate the motions that end up closest to the middle for discussion. Agree - Disagree Line 10 minutes Ingredients:  List of Motions  Venturers First, pick an Annual Gathering motion to address and read it out as a group. Then mark one end of the room to represent ‘Strongly agree with this motion’ and the other end as ‘Strongly disagree with this motion’. The Venturers will then separate and stand somewhere along the line between the two points, to represent their own opinions. Some people along the line will then explain why they stood where they did. Finally, try to sift through the ideas to reach a consensus as a group.

Mains Question Time - With Guest Speakers 10-30 minutes Ingredients:  Knowledgeable guests  List of Motions  Curious Venturers To prepare for this dish, invite 1 or 2 knowledgeable ‘guest speakers’ from the district to join the group session. Next, mix them with curious Venturers and grill the guests in a sizzling question and answer session about a motion (or motions), the background to them and national Woodcraft Folk. For and Against Debates Ingredients:  List of motions  Venturers

20-30 minutes 

Strong opinions


Choose a motion that was prioritised by the group and then slice Venturer group into two. The first group will then think of reasons for the motion and the second will find reasons against. Combine the two groups and either hold a debate between the two groups to create a fiery discussion with a decision by voting, or discuss the arguments for and against more informally, using hand signals to indicate agreement/disagreement for a delicious, flavoursome stew of ideas. Body Mapping 15 minutes Ingredients:  Big sheets of paper  Venturers  Marker pens Split the Venturers into small groups, each with a big sheet of paper, and space them out. In the groups, draw the outline of a person on the paper and then write inside it the skills and qualities you would want in someone standing for General Council, the group of people who lead national Woodcraft Folk.

Specials Mock Debate 30 minutes Ingredients:  1 Motion  1 Chair  Venturers with strong opinions  1 Proposer of the Motion Select a tasty motion to discuss (one suggestion is motion 23 – UK wide Venturer Committee) and find 2 people from the group to chair the debate and to propose the motion. This person will then start by introducing the motion. Everyone else can then raise their hands to speak for or against. It’s the Chair’s job to remember the order in which people put up their hands and make sure they get space to speak. Allow the discussion to bubble for about 10-15 mins to achieve a good balance of flavours. The Chair should then close the debate and give the Proposer the ‘right of reply’ (they get to speak again to round off the discussion). Finally, add the finishing touch by voting for or against with raised hands. Mock Open Space 30 minutes Ingredients:  3 motions  Big paper  Venturers  Pens First, pick 3 motions to discuss (ideally similar in scale) and find 1 or 2 people from the group to facilitate the discussion of each one. They each need to take a big piece of paper and pen, then set them aside in a space. Divide everyone else then between the 3 groups and discussion can begin. Open Space discussions can be more informal in style than the debate above, although it may be useful for the facilitators to guide the discussion and the order of the speakers. In Open Space, you are free to move between the different discussions whenever you like, so try to get around all 3 during the time so you can sample and have a say on all 3 of the motions. Come back together as a group at the end, facilitators sum up the points raised (so remember to write everything down as you go along!) on the motions, and then everyone vote for and against each one.

Desserts Test Your Delegate Ingredients:  1 delegate  Venturers

10-20 minutes


To create this dessert, challenge your delegate to practice some arguments for or against the motions you’ve discussed as a group. You could also throw some opposing points into the mix and help them think of some sizzling arguments that will floor Annual Gathering with their brilliance. Look To The Future 10 minutes Ingredients:  Up to you! Be inventive and season to taste… Follow up an activity to discuss a motion by thinking about what changes you, your district or all of Woodcraft Folk would see if this was passed. This sweet and reflective activity could look to the future in a creative way – perhaps with group story telling in a circle or with an arty activity.

Prepare for Annual Gathering  

Activities for Woodcraft groups to help them participate in Annual Gathering.

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