HISTORY

THE HISTORY OF THE POLISH SCOUTING AND GUIDING ASSOCIATION
(FROM 190 TILL NOW)

How did the history of Polish Scouting and Guiding Association start? Who brought scouting to Poland? What are the most important milestones in lifespan of our organization.

SCOUTING FOR BOYS" AND ANDRZEJ MAŁKOWSKI

Our story began in 1910 when Andrzej Małkowski translated ‘Scouting for Boys’. It was a spark that spread through all Polish lands. Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people have been experiencing a scouting adventure. Their motto is “Czuwaj!” which means: “Stay awake!” or “Be prepared!”.

DAYS OF INDEPENDENCE

Between 1918 to 1939, when Poland raigained its independence after 123 years of absence on world maps, Polish scouts and guides had been actively participating in the social life of a nation. Before 1939 The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP), a founding member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, was one of the largest social and educational associations in Poland with over 200,000 members.

'TODAY-TOMORROW-THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW’ - DIFFICULT TIME OF WORLD WAR II

We had built a democratic, multi-national and multi-religious country, then World War II interrupted our work. Polish scouts felt obliged to fulfill their promise to serve the country and the nation. ZHP operated under a code name ‘Szare Szeregi’ (‘Grey Ranks’). The wartime scouting performed the programme ‘Today-Tomorrow-The Day After Tomorrow’. ‘Today’ for education in the occupied country and acquiring skills necessary to live after the war. ‘Tomorrow’ for participation in a military uprising. And finally, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ for working in free, independent Poland. In 1944 many scouts took part in the Warsaw Uprising. They were paramedics and liaisons. Many of them fought as soldiers.

DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH

The Day After Tomorrow never came. Poland became a communist country. We had to withdraw from WOSM and WAGGGS. Nevertheless, ZHP continued work, involving successive generations of young people. The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP) became one of the very few official organizations that retained some independence from the communist party. It resulted in a rapid growth in numbers of members – in 1980 ZHP had more than three million of them. Polish scouts were involved in a variety of activities, from helping farmers of the poorest regions in the fields to organizing the visits of Pope John Paul II.

NEW CHAPTER IN ZHP'S HISTORY

After the martial law was imposed on in 1981, ZHP was the only large social non-prohibited organization. In the reformative climate of the late 1980’s ZHP adopted some of Polish scouting’s pre-war traditions. In 1989 communism in Poland collapsed. In 1993 President Lech Wałęsa (Nobel Prize winner and a leader of Solidarity movement) became the honorary protector of ZHP just like all former Polish presidents. In 1996 ZHP rejoined WOSM and WAGGGS, which started a new chapter in ZHP’s history.