Today Scouts celebrate their 100 years
As Poland celebrates a hundred years of independence this year, the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (ZHP) is also marking its centenary with a jamboree – a national-level gathering of scouts in Gdańsk, which begins today, with almost 15,000 participants.
Scouts and guides will have a chance to make new friends, develop skills and explore northern Poland, while helping the local community.
Established in 1918, ZHP was one of the founding members of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement. During the Second World War, scouts fought in the Grey Ranks, the ZHP’s wartime organisation, which was part of the underground resistance against the German occupation. With over 100,000 members, ZHP is one of the biggest non-governmental organisations in Poland.
“We are happy that participants will discover Gdańsk during city games and in their free time,” said Piotr Grzelak, the city’s deputy mayor, ahead of the jamboree.
The scouts have set up camp on Sobieszewo Island on the Baltic sea, between Gdańsk Bay and the Vistula river delta. Their temporary base features a stage, media centre, bus station and field hospital, among other amenities.
Activities will include sailing, orienteering and trips in the surrounding area of Kashubia. Participants will have free access to a range of museums in Gdańsk, including the National Maritime Museum, the Museum of the Second World War and the European Solidarity Centre, located next to the Gdańsk Shipyard, the birthplace of Solidarity.
The jamboree will also feature a strong community element. Scouts and guides will engage with their natural surroundings on Sobieszewo Island, making nesting huts for birds, building public benches from pallets and creating a mural. Service activities will also include reading to children at the library on the island and helping repair damaged books.
The jamboree’s official opening on 7 August will feature a “living” Polish flag. The scouts plan to break the record for Poland’s largest one – though it will still be considerably smaller than the Guinness world record, involving 43,830 participants in Chennai, India, in 2014.
Hosting the event, Sobieszewo Island is gearing up for a broader international gathering: the European Scout Jamboree, which will be held there in 2020. Contingents can already register online for the event, which will seek to raise scouts’ and guides’ awareness of challenges facing Europe and the world, while encouraging them to be active citizens.