Supporting the transition from participant to young leader

We've launched #DreamBigAtHome!

Our new lockdown website has hundreds of activities and games to do at home, weekly challenges to try and a regular programme of live workshops and events online, as well as information on how our groups can operate during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Woodcraft Folk good practice: supporting young people to make the transition from participant to volunteer leader

We've gathered together some ideas on how experienced volunteers can support young people to make the transition from being a participant in a group to a volunteer with leadership responsibilities. You can download the same information from the Word document below. This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, so if you have other good ideas please comment below or let us know!

Training and support

  • Leading for the Future, a series of activities for groups of young people to develop leadership skills in their group, community or society
  • Young Leader Training (see the online calendar for upcoming training)
  • Shadowing scheme, for example every role at a certain event requiring a shadow as well as the main person responsible for the role, and these pairs being expected to work together and reflect on what they learned
  • Mentoring scheme, for example matching up a young volunteer with someone who’s already done the role and can offer support via email or phone over a flexible time period


  • Co-operation
  • Equality
  • Mixed age groups where different ages learn from each other

Wider culture of Woodcraft Folk

  • Range of roles, not just one option, with some roles being smaller or shorter – ie a bit less responsibility than stepping up to a full ‘leader’ role
  • Raise expectations that young people can volunteer by making space for young people to have a go, older volunteers stepping back and being supportive
  • Be proactive in asking young people to volunteer, eg make ‘invitation’ flyers available to leaders to pass on to specific young people they think are ready to take on responsibility

Other individual / more practical things

  • Communicate clearly what practical support is available, for example expenses, accommodation, training
  • Publish stories / case studies of young people who’ve made the transition, sharing in their own words why they did it, what support they got and how other young people can do it
  • Try offering volunteer opportunities away from the group the young person started in, ie where they don’t have history as a participant
  • Conversely, you could try offering a young person a flexible role in their own group, where they’re a participant for some activities and a facilitator / leader for other activities, starting with something small like a game and growing towards a whole session or event
Woodcraft Folk good practice - transition from participant to volunteer.docx55.01 KB