Poland has one of the strongest Christian traditions in Europe, with over 90% of Poles self-identifying as Christian (predominantly Catholic) as compared to 19% of Czechs (in the neighboring Czech Republic) expressing a belief in God in any form. Poland's connection to its Christian faith has always been particularly strong during times of national crisis or oppression. For example, in 1989 (immediately prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall), over 60% of Poles reported that they attended Christian worship services on a regular basis.
Despite this strong tradition, the connection between Poles and their Christian faith has began to deteriorate in the last 25 years. Although the number of Poles self-identifying as Christian has not declined during this period, the role of faith in the lives of Poles has declined. For example, in 2014 it was reported that only 39% of Poles attend Christian worship services on a regular basis (a decrease of 35% over this 25 year period). Though many factors have been linked to this decline, the predominant factor appears to be the influx of Western influences following the end of Communism as younger Poles opt for sports, recreation and other pursuits on Sundays instead of attending worship services.
As we have learned through our friends in Poland, however, the statistics do not tell the whole story. SInce 2006, we have shared our love for our friends and neighbors in Poland by working each summer with local churches in Poland organizing and hosting English as a Foreign Language/Vacation Bible Day Camps for kids ages 7 to 14. In its work with these churches in organizing and hosting the Day Camps, AIM (through its Poland Day Camp Outreach Team) has the privilege to work with teams of young adults, college students and teenagers who have a strong connection to their faith and a desire to live it on a daily basis. We also have the opportunity to serve hundreds of kids who are excited to learn about God in new and different ways. Finally, we have the opportunity to get to know the families of these kids and join them in their effort to share God's love with their children.
Since 2006, we have worked with the Lutheran parish in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland, under the leadership of Pastor Jan Raszyk, to help organize and host a Day Camp in his parish each summer. Since 2015, we have worked with the Lutheran parish in Stare Bielsko, Poland, under the leadership of Pastor Piotr Szarek, to help organize and host a Day Camp in his parish each summer. Since 2016, we have worked with the Lutheran parishes in Cieszyn, Poland and Katowice, Poland to help organize and host Day Camps in each parish each summer. In 2019, we will begin working with the Lutheran parish in Pszczyna, Poland to help organize and host their first-ever Day Camp. Through these Day Camps, kids ages 6 to 14 have the opportunity to practice their conversational English with native speakers and to learn about God through a variety of songs, skits, crafts, games, sports and other activities. In addition, the teenagers, college students and young adults in each church/parish who help organize and host the Day Camps have an opportunity to meet, work with and share their faith with like-minded young people.
In the summer of 2019, AIM plans to work with the Lutheran parishes in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Stare Bielsko, Cieszyn, Katowice and Pszczyna to help organize and host a Day Camp in each parish. AIM is also in discussion with other churches in Poland about starting a Day Camp at their churches.
As in the past, AIM will be looking for people, churches, schools and other organizations who are interested in becoming a part of its Poland Day Camp Outreach Team, including assisting us by helping us organize and host one of the Day Camps in Poland. Any person age 14 or older is eligible to work with our Poland Day Camp Outreach Team in organizing and hosting a Day Camp, provided that persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
If you, your church, your school, or your organization are interested in learning more about becoming a member of AIM's Poland Day Camp Outreach Team, just click the box below.