The now largely forgotten Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was founded in 1920 by John Hargrave (1894 – 1982) as a reaction to post-war militarism in scouting. Despite internal wranglings, the small but fervent organisation survived until 1932 and is today perhaps best remembered in its successor, The Woodcraft Folk (founded 1925), which has survived into the twenty-first century with rather less ambitious aspirations.
Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was aimed at bringing about world peace. Activities centred on camping, hiking and handicrafts. Hargrave believed the organisation’s training would generate a core group which would evolve into a society free from poverty and war. The Kibbo Kift philosophy was that individuals with mental discipline were the key to a peaceful future – replacing mass movements defined by class, race or nation states. Using arcane rituals and ceremonies drawing on historical precedents, it also encompassed woodcraft activities, regional geography and world culture, and passionate ideas about national identity. In 1920 Hargrave defined the Old English concept ‘Kibbo Kift’ as ‘proof of great strength’, developed through healthy communal outdoor activities and education. Unfortunately, despite – or perhaps because of – its lofty aspirations, disagreements led to the organisation’s inevitable demise.