Poland – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1923
Membership Status: Related
Brief YMCA History
The American YMCA came to Poland with General Haller`s Army during the First World War. The main aim of the YMCA was to serve soldiers and prisoners of war. After the war YMCA carried also about students, children and poor people. Polish people use the YMCA’s activities. And, with the help of the American YMCA, Poles started to build their own YMCA, which was founded formally in 1923.Before Second World War the YMCA worked in many cities in Poland. Three camp-sites and four buildings (in Cracow, Lodz, Warsaw and Gdynia) were built with the help of the American YMCA. The YMCA houses had rooms for residents, common rooms, gyms and swimming pools. Sport and camping played a main role in its programme. Young people from many European countries, and even from the USA, participated in Polish YMCA camps. Very important part of the YMCA’s programme was education, development of patriotism and participation of young people. Most of the programmes for youngsters were led by young leaders.
During Second World War the Polish YMCA was closed by the Nazis, but the Polish movement continued to work in France, England, Romania and even in Africa with the Polish Army of General Anders. This time was founded the branch of the Polish YMCA in London, which still exists today.
Immediately after the Second World War the YMCA restarted its activity. But after four years, in 1949 the YMCA of Poland was once more closed, this time by the communists. All its possessions were taken over by the government.
YMCA started its activity again in 1990, with the help of people who were members of the YMCA 40 years earlier. They revived the organisation and involved new members in its activities. YMCA got back its houses in Gdynia, Lodz and Cracow and the camp „Pilica’ near Lodz. Today the YMCA of Poland has 18 branches and continues to develop its programmes. And the most importantly, more and more young people are joining YMCA movement in Poland.
To Serve Poland through Character, Health and Knowledge
Summer and Winter Camps are offered by almost every branch of the YMCA of Poland. There are mostly overnight camps, but also day camps. They take place largely in Poland, but some are also held abroad. There are every year approx. 1000 children/youngsters participate in the YMCA camps.
The YMCA of Poland offers many possibilities for international contacts. Some of them for our staff, leaders, some for volunteers, but most of them are for young members. There are camps, meetings, seminars, training events. Some branches have many partners all over the world.
The YMCA offers many ways to develop leadership skills and learn about working with people. Training is provided for YMCA leaders on a local and a national level. YMCA leaders also participate in training offered by other organisations both in Poland and abroad. Young leaders are supported to develop their ideas by YMCA staff and volunteers.
Sport has always been a main feature of the Polish YMCA. The most important programmes are: basketball, volleyball, swimming, karate, table tennis, orienteering, cycling, bridge, and chess. Some of the members of the YMCA take part just in the sport programmes.