The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego – ZHP), with over 106 thousand members, is the largest social and educational organization for children and youth in the country. Over 100 years, the main goal of ZHP has been to support the education of guides and scouts by fostering an environment for their all-round development.
The scouting movement in our territories goes back to 1910, when Poland was under annexation. The written order appointing the first troops on behalf of the Main Scouting Executive Committee in Lviv was given on 22 May 1911 by Andrzej Małkowski, who had been inspired by the scout method and organization established by General Robert Baden-Powell in Great Britain. Formally, the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP) was established a few years later, at the Unification Assembly held in Lublin in November 1918. At the Assembly, the scouting organizations from all three partitions came together. In the ’20s of the previous century, ZHP was a co-founder of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
The General Assembly also elects the National Council and the ZHP’s President. The Council is comprised of 30-40 members. It decides inter alia in the matters of the methodological system, directions of the educational work and work with the leaders, and it approves the directions of the board’s actions taken in a given year. The President cares about unity, ideological principles and tradition of ZHP.
Mr Dariusz Supeł was elected to be the ZHP’s President for the 2017-2021 term.
The constantly improved programme ensures the achievement of our core goal, which is to raise young people to become conscious citizens. The evaluation of our activities allows us to prepare programmes that best fit the current interests and needs of guides and scouts, which motivates them in a challenging way and which encourages their self-improvement.
Thanks to the stimulating programme tailored to the needs of individual age groups, our youth is able to develop on many different planes, to be active and responsible for themselves and for others, and is not afraid to make their own decisions.
By applying the scout method, we are able to pass our knowledge and skills onto youth in a natural way, through practical activities. This allows them to gain the experience indispensable in adult life.
Teamwork, planning and implementation of projects, setting goals and achieving them –these are just some of the skills that guides and scouts learn at meetings, hikes or camps.
The objective is education
Accomplishment of educational successes does not require a programme revolution in our times. The timelessness of scouting tenets means that they do not need to be updated.
It is necessary to constantly identify the dreams, interests and problems of youth in order to ensure that the programme responds to their needs, that it is attractive and effective.
The Poland’s scout and guide movement has been all about educating young people right from its inception. It is inscribed in the mission of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association, and it constitutes the main advantage of our organization over others that cater to youth. What makes scouting and guiding extraordinary is the method of accomplishing goals. The clearly communicated mission is carried out through simple work forms which we draw from the world scouting and guiding movements and our own experience. Nature and getting to know the world plays a tremendous role in our work.
Through the scout method, we reach out to all age groups, ensuring an attractive programme to advance comprehensive development of the organizations’ members in the spirit of values expressed in the Scout and Guide Law. The unique method of small groups is nowadays imitated by numerous organizations, and learning by doing, applied by us for over 100 years, has become a discovery of modern teaching.
The system of small groups is a great value of scouting and guiding. Thanks to it, children and youth have the opportunity to build small, self-governed communities. It is where lifelong friendships are formed, where girls and boys build their self-esteem and improve interpersonal skills. Small groups give everyone the chance to try their hand at being a leader. Nowhere else are children taught leadership and entrusted with tasks, functions and responsibility as quickly as in the scouting movement. There is no scouting or guiding without small groups.
Scouting and guiding is all about selfless service – acting for others. Thanks to this, members of the organization learn social behaviour and sensitivity, so much needed today.
ZHP programme, that is what the packs and troops do, is the essence of the scouting movement, right next to the scout method. The programme’s advantage is the diversity of the activities that it entails. In order for a programme to be called scouting/guiding, it must strive toward the accomplishment of the ZHP mission, and, in consequence, toward raising young people in the way indicated by the ZHP Educational Fundamentals.
In order to achieve this, a scouting programme should be:
The Central Bank of Ideas (CBP) is an Internet space where materials that may inspire others are gathered. It holds all the programme prospectuses (meetings, hikes, quests), educational elements (courses and workshops), programme proposals drafted by national or regional programme teams, as well as numerous and varied guidebooks and articles. Materials held at the Bank are created at all levels of the organization – leaders from Districts, Regions and the National Board.
The addressees of materials collected at the CBP are all ZHP members, although for the obvious reasons, they are most useful to the adults and especially to the most important members of our staff – the troop leaders. The materials are available at www.cbp.zhp.pl.
The Peace Light of Bethlehem is a programme inaugurated in Austria in 1986 as part of a charitable relief mission for handicapped children and people in need. The idea of spreading the Light from Church of Nativity during Christmas Time has evolved into worldwide relay. In 2016, the Light was carried under the banner of “Let’s Make Peace With Courage”.
Polish guides and scouts have been participating in the Peace Light of Bethlehem since 1991. Every year, over two thousand scouts and guides meet on a Peace Light Gathering in Zakopane (Tatry Mountains) changing the town into the capital city of brotherhood.
Over two days, they take part in city games, mountain trips, workshops, conferences and concerts. It is an amazing and uniting event for everyone, regardless of age or religion. The final part of the meeting is an ecumenical service, celebrated together with Slovak scouts and guides, during which representatives from all Polish regions receive the Bethlehem Flame and begin their individual journey to spread the Light.
In Poland guides and scouts deliver the Light, together with Christmas wishes, to all who need hope and solace: hospitals, working places, schools and offices. Nevertheless, it is not the end of their mission. The most important value of this activity is to initiate self-reflection, discussion and positive local actions.
The PRO movement (Explorers’ Movement) organizes the Explorers’ Hike – a five-day summertime tourist event, which is to work as a “field lab” in which innovative forms of non-formal education are tested and perfected.
The 2016 edition was conducted in the form of a Live-Action Role Playing game, based on the mechanics of Jacek Komuda’s Wild FieldsRPG game. The hike had over 1000 participants who impersonated characters from the era of Sarmatism. They completed all kinds of missions, interacting with characters played by the organizers, collaborating with other patrols, exchanging information and collecting valuable objects hidden all over the hike’s area of 2500 km2.
The 2017 edition is taking the shape of an exploration expedition, where participants will try to find lost works of art, historical souvenirs and as yet unidentified places of important events, with the support of cultural institutions, archaeologists, explorers and history enthusiasts.
This course inspires scouters and guiders to reach for excellence in life and growth as trainers. “Cogito” is an intellectual challenge. Participation in this course is an excellent opportunity to meet interesting people, specialists and inspiring figures, as well as a chance to interact with other leaders. “Cogito” courses encourage leaders to take greater responsibility for guiding and scouting and for ZHP, and build the ethos of the highest leader rank. They also serve as an impulse for leaders to continue working on their competences, skills and character. “Cogito” covers those items of the ZHP Development Strategy that are addressed to the most advanced leaders, aiming at strengthening this group of members and giving support to troop leaders. The courses have been conducted by the Central Leaders’ School since 2008. Since 2012, there have been 6 editions of the COGITO Master Course for Guide and Scout Leaders, with 161 participants in total.
Leader Camp is the largest cyclical training event of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association. For five days, participants take advantage of the opportunities awarded by the greatest, hands-on platform for exchange of experiences offered by ZHP. The Leader Camp programme is set depending on the current needs of the organization. Participation in training sessions, workshops and conferences held during the camp allows leaders to enrich their knowledge and skills, live an adventure and start new, valuable, lifelong friendships. After an entire day of training sessions, workshops and other activities, participants can relax at campfires where people discuss specific topics of interest or game get-togethers. Participants will also have a spiritual centre at their disposal, and will be able to enjoy such accompanying events as concerts or artistic shows. The Leader Camp is not only a training event; it is also an opportunity for ZHP adult members to take a break from everyday duties.
Every day in their gratuitous and often heroic work, scout and guide leaders do extraordinary things, considering every smile of a child the biggest prize.
Thanks to their work, engagement and selflessness, we have been able to carry on with our mission for more than a hundred years – we raise children and youth in the spirit of scout values, we teach them active, patriotic attitude and responsibility. By sharing our knowledge and practical skills, we stimulate their interests and encourage constant development.
Among 30 000 of adults in ZHP there are many people who, with their eagerness, charisma and creativity, can initiate extraordinary activities. With the things they do, they make the world better. They set a new quality of local initiatives, they break stereotypes, they cross the barriers. This is how the “Extraordinary” ZHP Leaders work.
The poll dubbed „Niezwyczajni“ (“The Extraordinary”) is one of a few possibilities to show our leaders our appreciation and gratitude. Being awarded the title of “Extraordinary” is a sign of respect in the eyes of thousands of ZHP members, as it is them who nominate the candidates and choose the winners in on-line voting. The title and the award are presented in front of an audience by well-known people.
We organize this annual poll to say “Thank You” to our leaders. The award gala is a celebration of the World Thinking Day. It is an extraordinary event and a great feast of the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association.
ZHP360 is a unique educational project run by our organization since 2011. It is the essence of learning by doing. With use of new technologies, ZHP360 is a channel of internal communication that gives guides and scouts all over Poland the opportunity not only to actively participate in scouting and guiding on national level, but also gets them to be part of something special. ZHP360’s team is composed of young volunteers who believe that scouting can truly change the world.
“A Reason for Pride” is a campaign addressed internally, to show the members of our organization the importance of the troop leader’s role. Its purpose is to build the prestige of troop leaders within ZHP, as they form the most important group of adults, on whom depends the accomplishment of the ZHP mission. The volunteer, systematic work, the great responsibility for young people coming of age are the tasks faced by troop leaders every day. It is a great challenge for them to balance all their duties and desires: accomplishment of own plans, self-development, continuous learning, expanding horizons, finding time for family, friends and their country. All the more we need to stress their role and the heroic nature of the work that they offer to the young generation of Poles. The campaign included a new website: powoddodumy.zhp.pl., 4 video clips about the work of troop leaders, graphic elements, quizzes, articles about troop leaders and tips for them. Underway are also professional materials supporting the work of troop leaders. They will include posters, recruitment fliers and brochures for parents about ZHP. The campaign also entailed the creation of hashtag #powodydodumy, which troop leaders may use to post photos regarding their everyday educational work.