The Woodcraft Way
(courtesy Ernest Thompson Seton Institute)
Woodcraft is Lifecraft
Ernest Thompson Seton: “Woodcraft is Lifecraft, from ages 4 to 94”
Woodcraft is a philosophy of life, a different approach to the outer world and a method of creating a personal inner world.
Recreation, conservation, and the development of avocation are its goals. It stresses outdoor life and activity. It includes alternative programs for urban areas and indoor times.
Recreation is the essence of Woodcraft.
Recreation is fun! Woodcraft gives: something to do; something to think about; something to remember; something to enjoy beyond your daily routine. Recreation should not be purchased; make your own fun. Recreation must be enjoyed with decorum. No one must be hurt in body, spirit or pocketbook.
The best recreation is that which appeals to the imagination. Physical recreation has its place, but its zest is apt to pass with one’s own youth. Joy in the realm of the imagination grows with one’s years, and increases with each indulgence in it. At the end of a long life, it means more than at the beginning.
Recreation, preferably out of doors, is ideal.
Outdoor activity is an inexpensive and delightful experience. It is a mental and physical restoration from the strains imposed by our modern existence. Camp life, although not the central focus of Woodcraft, has an honored place in the program. Adventure in the wilderness is ideal. Many of the same benefits may be obtained under less rigorous conditions.
Self-government: Woodcraft is organized in small self-governing groups.
Adult guidance is required for Little Lodge and Middle Lodge Circles. Older members are encouraged to lead younger ones. In each Clan, Lodge, and Circle, every member has the right to express opinions. Each is encouraged to participate and seek consensus in all decisions affecting the group. Control from without is a poor substitute for control from within.
The Great Central Fire.
Represented in our law, and in our ceremonies. Only the re-creation of the sacred fire has power to thrill us and strike chords of primitive remembrance. When people gather around a fire they shed all modern artifice and return ot the essence of self, revealing the naked soul. Since time immemorial, humanity has seen in this blessed fire the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendliness, and council. When people have met together in peace and shared the warmth of the welcoming fire, it forges a lasting bond of union overcoming wide divergence in attitudes and perspectives. This fire is the symbol at the center of Woodcraft. We shall not fail to use its magic powers.
Realizing that maturity, not scholarship is the first aim of education, Woodcraft activities are designed to build and strengthen character. Activities follow the Four-Fold Woodcraft path (The Body Way, the Spirit Way, the Beauty Way and the Service Way) to equip each individual with new skills, deeper understanding, and greater commitment to live the rest of their lives in a more constructive manner. Members are encouraged to develop, educate themselves, and teach others.
The Honors Program in Woodcraft provides activities in many fields. The earned Titles program invite the individual to explore a wide range of subjects to qualify for recognition.
For those interested in achievement in a specific field, Woodcraft offers the Degree Program concurrently with the Honors Program. It is the interrelationship between these programs that gives Woodcraft its unique combination. Activities are adjusted to each individuals and group’s needs. The system has universal appeal, value, and flexibility.
Woodcraft activities emphasize the importance of individual action to protect and conserve all living creatures and natural resources. We must understand our individual and collective responsibility to all of the elements of our environment.
Achievement by standards.
Woodcraft gives recognition to all accomplishments by non-competitive standards. Standards provide a measure of an indivual’s potential. While stressing personal choice and responsibility, Woodcraft also teaches cooperation by its non-competitive approach to activities. Standards are approved by national experts, taking into account the variety of human ability, and the capability of different age groups. The goal is to overcome barriers within ourselves, not to conquer others.
Recognition of accomplishment.
The Woodcraft Way helps each of us to personalize an increasingly impersonal world. The program provides incentives to those who wish to learn, and instills pride in accomplishment. Woodcraft gives each individual member a small community in which to find identity. It emphasized methods by which members learn to share the work and learn to live in harmony with others.
An heroic ideal.
Woodcraft offers an heroic ideal, an image of a mature human being, physically strong, mentally alert, spiritually attuned, dedicated to community service. Anxious to learn, willing to teach, inspired by vision. Prepared to share with others, with courage, intelligence, power and wisdom. Cognizant of the past, unafraid of the future, profoundly aware that action is only possible in the present moment. Able to use this moment to the best advantage, equipped to listen, communicate and actively respond as needed.
By presenting an heroic ideal Woodcraft gives each individual the inspiration to set and then strive towards personal goals. Woodcraft is dedicated to exploring knowledge, increasing tolerance through understanding, and improving global environmental conditions.
Encouragement of individual expression.
Woodcraft helps each person build self-esteem and self-expression. It teaches: first find yourself, then be yourself without fear. One that fears to see and cannot do will never experience the wonder of the world. Be not afraid to be different, but do not demand that others be like you. Think for yourself and find new ways to express your joy in living.
Woodcraft activities teach basic skills to each individual participating in the program. By the use of games and other recreational activities it encourages people to develop all of their senses and increase their powers of observation.
With these skills and a heightened awareness of surroundings,Woodcrafters learn to search for creative solutions to personal, community, and environmental problems. The training received as the individual learns to see along the Spirit Way, explore the Mind Way, gain strength along the Body Way, and work along the Service Way develops the ability to find solutions and put them into action.
The power of independence.
In every aspect of life the more one know, the more one can do and the stronger and more independent one becomes. The one that does not read has no power to explore the vast world of accumulated knowledge. The ones that do not learn how to do something are dependent on others to do it for them.
Every skill acquired is a foundation stone on which to build a happier, more productive life. Personal power that can be employed in every situation encountered. This is the real power and excitement of living with ability and confidence.
Woodcraft creates its own world, shared by members of all ages. It brings color, ceremony, symbols, customs, recognitionand personal decorations into each member’s life. These fulfill needs deep within the human psyche. It teaches how each of us can find and create beauty in all the ordinary pastimes of everyday life.
The Woodcraft World is an atmosphere in which individuals can find, test, and explore their strengths, where supported by intimate friends they can grow in many directions.
Expression in prose, poetry, song and dance. Satisfaction from developing new skills and expanding horizons. The refreshment of the out-of-doors and increased appreciation of all natural things. Avocation, recreation, relaxation, companionship and peace. All are found along the Woodcraft Way.
( source: Ernest Thompson Seton Institute)