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Polish Scouting and Guiding Association

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Polish Scouting and Guiding Association

The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association
Polish: Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego
Headquarters ZHP Headquarters Warsaw
Location Warszawa, Konopnickiej 6
Country Poland
Founded 1 November 1918
Founder Andrzej Małkowski, Olga Małkowska
Membership 138,112
Affiliation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (Polish law.


Pre-war history

The Polish Scout movement was started in 1910. Initially the ideas of Sokół and the anti-alcoholic association Eleusis. However, it wasn't until the Partitions of Poland came to an end that the ZHP would be officially founded by the merging of existing groups.

Soon after the merger in 1918, the ZHP members fought in all the conflicts Poland was engaged in around this time: Great Poland Uprising, Polish-Bolshevik War, Silesian Uprisings, and Polish-Ukrainian War, much like their predecessors during the Siege of Mafeking.

Eaglets defending the Łyczaków Cemetery during the Siege of Lwów

All of the units joined together in 1918 and formed the ZHP, one of the founding members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Although many units retained their own traditions, a common law, common symbols and a common oath was introduced. The primary difference between most Scouting organizations and the Polish Harcerstwo was described by Andrzej Małkowski:

Harcerstwo is Scouting plus independence.

Before 1939 the ZHP was one of the largest social and educational associations in Poland with over 200,000 members. Among the "sponsors" of Polish Harcerstwo were all the presidents of Poland and several high-ranking officers, including general Józef Haller.

Gray Ranks

Polish Boy Scouts fighting in the Warsaw Uprising

After the Soviet Union executed most of the Boy Scouts held at Ostashkov prison.

The wartime Scouts evolved into the paramilitary Szare Szeregi (leaflets or painting the kotwica sign on the walls. During Operation Tempest, and especially during the Warsaw Uprising, the Scouts participated in the fighting, and several Szare Szeregi units were some of the most effective in combat.

In 1945 the ZHP restored its former name and returned to public existence. However, the communist authorities of Poland pressured the organization to become a member of the Pioneer Movement and eventually it was banned in 1949. The only existing part of pre-war ZHP is ZHP pgK.[3]

Modern history

Emblem of the Organizacja Harcerska Związku Młodzieży Polskiej 1950-1956

In 1956, after Aleksander Kamiński) and the original oath, law, educational content and methods were changed (mention of God was removed from oath, Lenin introduced as a hero, the Bolshevik Revolution was commemorated, the brigades became co-educational).

Despite this, the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association became one of the very few official organizations that retained some independence from the communist party. Because of this, its growth was rapid, and in 1980 it had more than three million active members. The Polish Scouts were engaged in a variety of duties, varying from helping in the fields of the most poor regions to organizing the visits of martial law. However, many of its high-ranking officials were interned because of their involvement in the Solidarność movement.

In 1989 after the period of peaceful transformation began, many groups of instructors formed separate Scouting organizations (like the [7]

In this reformative climate, ZHP did adopt some of Polish Scouting's pre-war traditions: e.g. the original oath and Scouts Law were reintroduced, and of course the overt communist aspects, such as the glorification of Lenin, were removed. However, the organisation remains co-educational. In 1993 [8] and International Link of Orthodox Christian Scouts.[9][10][11]

Standards and ideals

Polish Boy Scouts


The Scout Motto is "Czuwaj", translating literally as "be aware" or "stay awake" in Polish, symbolizing readiness. It was a historic admonition of medieval knights to one another, while on guard holding back the Mongols. The Polish nouns for single Scouts are Harcerz (M) and Harcerka (F).

Scout Oath (Przyrzeczenie Harcerskie)

Mam szczerą wolę całym życiem pełnić służbę Bogu i Polsce, nieść chętną pomoc bliźnim i być posłusznym Prawu Harcerskiemu.

It is my sincere wish to serve God and Poland with the whole of my life, to carry my willing help to others, and to obey the Scout and Guide Law.

Scout Law (Prawo Harcerskie)

  1. Harcerz sumiennie spełnia swoje obowiązki wynikające z Przyrzeczenia Harcerskiego.
  2. Na słowie harcerza polegaj jak na Zawiszy.
  3. Harcerz jest pożyteczny i niesie pomoc bliźnim.
  4. Harcerz w każdym widzi bliźniego, a za brata uważa każdego innego harcerza.
  5. Harcerz postępuje po rycersku.
  6. Harcerz miłuje przyrodę i stara się ją poznać.
  7. Harcerz jest karny i posłuszny rodzicom i wszystkim swoim przełożonym.
  8. Harcerz jest zawsze pogodny.
  9. Harcerz jest oszczędny i ofiarny.
  10. Harcerz jest czysty w myśli, w mowie i uczynkach, nie pali tytoniu i nie pije napojów alkoholowych.


  1. A Scout fulfills his duties as set out in the Scout Promise.
  2. You can rely on the word of a Scout as much as on the word of Zawisza.
  3. A Scout is useful and carries help to others.
  4. A Scout sees all people as close to him, and regards every other Scout as a brother.
  5. A Scout is chivalrous.
  6. A Scout loves nature and tries to get to know it.
  7. A Scout is obedient and listens to his parents and all his superiors.
  8. A Scout is always cheerful.
  9. A Scout is thrifty and generous.
  10. A Scout is clean in his thoughts, words and deeds, does not smoke cigarettes and does not drink alcohol.



There are four age groups, although the age limits are not strictly adhered to:

  • zuchy and zuchenki (Cub Scouts and Brownies) - 6–11 years
  • harcerze and harcerki (Boy Scouts and Girl Guides) - 11–13 years
  • harcerze starsi and harcerki starsze (Senior Scouts and Senior Guides) - 13–16 years
  • wędrownicy and wędrowniczki (Rovers and Rangers) - 16–25 years of age

The basic unit of ZHP is a drużyna (troop), consisting of approximately 20 boys or girls. Each drużyna is formed by several units named zastęp consisting of about seven people. A few troops (especially working at the same school or housing estate) can be connected in one szczep (group). Several groups or/and troops from a specified area (borough, village, town) form a hufiec (district) which in turn is a part of one of the regions called chorągiew (literally banner). For example a particular Scout can be a member of

  • zastęp starszoharcerski Pantery (unit of senior Scouts The Panthers)
  • 156 Warszawska Drużyna Harcerzy Dżungla (156th Warsaw Troop of Boy Scouts Jungle)
  • Szczep 156 Warszawskich Drużyn Harcerskich i Zuchowych (Group of 156th Warsaw Troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and Cub Scouts)
  • Hufiec ZHP Warszawa-Mokotów (Warsaw-Mokotów District)
  • Chorągiew Stołeczna ZHP (Warsaw (Capital) Region of ZHP)

Poland Network Scout Fellowship

The Poland Network Scout Fellowship is a British forum for members of The Scout Association with a specific interest in Poland, assisting and forging links with Scouting there.

See also


  1. ^ "Triennal review: Census as at 1 December 2010". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Our World". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2006. 
  3. ^ ZHP pgK (ZHP abroad) consists of Polish Scouts from USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Argentina, France and Sweden
  4. ^ second largest Scouting organization in Poland, 15.000 members
  5. ^ member of the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d'Europe
  6. ^ shortlived attempt to refound pre-war ZHP
  7. ^ History of ZHR
  8. ^ "ASSOCIATIONS MEMBRES - MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS - ASOCIACIONES MIEMBROS" (in French). International Catholic Conference of Guiding. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "The 1st (Constituent) Conference of Desmos". DESMOS-International Link of Orthodox Christian Scouts. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Składki międzynarodowe" (in Polish). ZHP. Retrieved 3 February 2008. 
  11. ^ "Informacje o skautingu" (in Polish). ZHP-Chorągiew Wielkopolska. Retrieved 3 February 2008. 

External links

  • Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, the Polish national Scouting organisation (Polish)
  • Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego pgK (ZHP abroad) (Polish)
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