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ARTICLE: Polish Scouting in the UK - My Route into the Outdoors

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Karolina Haluszczak writes about her family's displacement following the 1939 invasion of Poland, how World War II shaped the history of the Polish Scouting Association in the UK, and how the organisation fostered her passion for the outdoors...

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 TobyA 03 May 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Fantastic! Fascinating. I don't think I realised how many Poles ended up in India. I wonder if Karolina knows if any stayed in India after independence? And did people leave by choice or if the were required to?

 djwilse 03 May 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I was expecting to read an article on climbing on overly popular limestone crags! Still interesting though.

 Marek 03 May 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Ah yes, happy times (the scouting, not the war). We're obviously a generation apart since it was my Mum who had the Siberian Experience courtesy of the NKVD. She got here with Gen. Anders via the Middle East (Wojtek the bear and all that) and Italy. I hadn't realised that the Poles went to/via India too.

 coldfell 03 May 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

What an interesting tale, I went to Catholic school in Bradford in the 60/70's with many Polish descent children, whose parents had been refugees of war. Out of interest, how did the Russians select the unfortunate Poles for transportation to Siberia? was it political, ethnic background or random. My current Polish friends told me that Russian was compulsory at school there, as a second language - which makes their acquisition of English even more impressive.

 Marek 03 May 2021
In reply to coldfell:

> What an interesting tale, I went to Catholic school in Bradford in the 60/70's with many Polish descent children, whose parents had been refugees of war. Out of interest, how did the Russians select the unfortunate Poles for transportation to Siberia? was it political, ethnic background or random...

Basically it was anyone from a family that was land-owning, 'intellectual', or professional (doctors, teachers, administrators ...) or related to the military (although those generally never made it further than mass graves of Katyn). That added up to a significant part of the population in Eastern Poland.

Post edited at 16:27
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Great story. Thank you for writing this. I was in Polish scouts in Poland in 1980s. The camp you describe is exactly what I remember. Same tents, beds, toilets. Obviously, my experience was also affected by history - it was communist Poland where I grew up. I remember camp food - orange cheese, supposedly send as an aid by Polish community in US and duly nicknamed "uncle Reagan" cheese. Due to miracles of communist economy we had food ratios. I remember wrestling in my conscience with the prospect of having to swear an oath of allegiance to the Party, when I was awarded Scouting Cross. It was such a relief when in the very last minute I learnt that my troop was going to defy the Party and use original, pre-war oath. 

History aside, I had a lot of fun and learnt how to use compass.

 Doug 04 May 2021

Was there much contact between the Polish Scout troops & the (British) Boy Scouts ?

'Sleeping in a canvas tent for two weeks, building beds out of wood and ropes (no luxurious feather duvets here!), doing night raids on other camps, going on long hikes with heavy backpacks, singing and chanting Polish songs around a campfire, washing our hair in rivers and even digging our own toilet!'

Apart from singing in English rather than Polish this doesn't sound much different from my memories of Scout camps in the late 60s.

 Marek 04 May 2021
In reply to Doug:

> Was there much contact between the Polish Scout troops & the (British) Boy Scouts ?

Not that I recall (from 40-50 years back).

In reply to Doug:

> Was there much contact between the Polish Scout troops & the (British) Boy Scouts ?

Not really. It would not be much use for me anyway, I did not speak any English back then. However, we did learn that Scout movement originated in Britain and we did learn about Baden-Powell, all positive without any mention of currently discussed controversies.

In reply to Marek:

Hello, this is Karolina! Yes that's a similar journey to my family too! They did I have books about the Polish people in India, with poems and imagery it's very interesting and beautiful!

In reply to Doug:

Sometimes there was yes. Polish scouts for me was very different to Girl Guides for me. I think with Polish Scouts there were people from similar backgrounds to me which was really amazing and comforting I feel to share that. We learnt about what our families went through in the War and the also about the history of Poland which we don't get taught schools in the UK. I was really greatful to be apart of it  


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