The Wiktor Krawczyk Warka branch of the Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society
The founding meeting of the Wiktor Krawczyk Warka branch of the Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze, PTK) was held on September 2, 1947, and gathered twenty-four representatives from among the town authorities, business entities, and all political fractions.
Warka pastor Canon Józef Szeronos, Fr. Stanisław Hermanowicz, founder of Warka high school Stanisław Marciniak, and other people who wielded social authority soon joined the organization. The board of directors included: pharmacist Ryszard Skoryna (chairman), Warka mayor Stefan Oreziak (deputy chairman), Martyna Maria Türke (secretary), Gwidon Wojakowski (treasurer), and Wiktor Krawczyk (board member). The board formulated a work plan during their first meeting. One of the aims was to promote the town of Warka as a tourist destination by training guides, creating overnight accommodations, purchasing vacation cabins and installing them in the Winiary lower park, creating a tourist information office, and opening a kayak rental.
The organization and tourist information office were located at a pharmacy on Warszawska Street, close to the market square (where it still operates).
However, the organization’s main goal was to “create a basis for a museum, and find a place for it,” as stipulated in the minutes. From that time, the main concern of Chairman Ryszard Skoryna and the entire board was to gather exhibits for the future regional museum. The organization’s members dedicated a lot of time and efforts to achieving their goals, and the branch was considered one of the best in the country. Its delegations participated in many general meetings. During a general meeting in Olsztyn on February 16, 1949, the main board of directors decided to loan Warka funds to create a regional museum and build a hostel to accommodate the so-called “qualified tourists” (individuals who engage in various forms of tourism in a sustainable, conscientious manner and have the necessary skills and knowledge). Several branches, including the one in Warka, were spun-off from the main organization’s big city subsidiaries. On March 5, 1949, the branch’s general meeting chose a new board of directors: Ryszard Skoryna (chairman), Wiktor Krawczyk (deputy chairman), Martyna Maria Türke (secretary), Gwidon Wojakowski (treasurer), Aleksander Gajewski, Alicja Kornacka, Eugenia Ledóchowska, Lucyna Rutkowska, and Jakub Sieradzan.
To further promote Warka among tourists, a book “Warka. A small guide” (“Warka. Mały przewodnik”) by Wiktor Krawczyk was published by the organization’s main board of directors in a series “Sightseeing Book Collection” (“Biblioteczka Krajoznawcza”). Local volunteers ran the tourist information office. The branch trained twelve guide candidates, and six of them were certified by the organization.
On December 17, 1950, during a joint general meeting of PTT (Polish Tatra Mountains Society, Polskie Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie) and PTK, the organizations merged and created the Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Turystyczno-Krajoznawcze, PTTK). The Warka branch delegated Wiktor Krawczyk, Kazimierz Langiewicz, Ryszard Skoryna, and Jakub Sieradzan to participate in the meeting.
In May 1951, during the PTTK’s first general meeting, Ryszard Skoryna turned the office of chairman over to Wiktor Krawczyk, and became a deputy chairman. After Krawczyk died in 1951, Skoryna returned as chairman, and Gajewski became deputy. In the late 1950s/early 1960s, the board accepted new members who had been trained by Krawczyk, Marciniak, and Zawadzki.
The organization’s branch in Warka remains active in developing tourism in the Town. It manages hiking, cycling, and water sports teams. During the 19th General Meeting of the PTTK Warka branch on February 23, 1997, the organization decided to include Wiktor Krawczyk in its name. On the 50th anniversary on March 3, 2001, Warka’s mayor awarded the organization a new banner with its namesake. Warka Town Council used this opportunity to name one of the town’s streets “PTTK Avenue” (“Aleja PTTK”).
On September 8, 2007, the branch celebrated its 60th anniversary at the Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka. The ceremony involved opening of an exhibition “100 years of PTK and 60 years of the Warka branch of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society,” a jubilee photo shoot, and a concert. Chairman Andrzej Jasiński delivered a talk on the branch’s activities. Many deserving members were awarded medals and commemorative certificates. Remigiusz Matyjas, PhD presented a monograph on the branch’s history entitled “60 years of the Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society in Warka” (“60 lat Polskiego Towarzystwa Turystyczno-Krajoznawczego w Warce”). The exhibition featured documents and mementos connected with the branch’s founders, its line of chairmen, and prominent organization members.
The Warka branch is a vibrant organization and plays a vital role in the social life of the Town. It is considered one of the best operating branches in the Warsaw region. Its members paved the way for an outstanding Museum, which has become a tourist jewel of southern Mazovia.
Composition of the Warka branch, as of 2021:
Chairman Marzena Jankowska
Deputy Chairman Jarosław Górski
Deputy Chairwoman Mariola Bienias
Secretary Jolanta Sikorowska
Treasurer Marianna Nadolna
Board Members: Mirosław Bienias, Andrzej Kulik, Janusz Waldemar Gwara, Adrian Iwanowski, Małgorzata Malec, Barbara Kozłowska, Iwona Sokołowska.
Since 1965, the branch has been organizing St. Andrew’s Night celebrations (a night of feasting and games), which offers an opportunity to sum up the season. In 1966, St. Andrew’s Night was held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society’s Club at the Mechanical Equipment Factory in Warka, and the celebrations were splendid. Władysław Gwardys headed the organizational committee.
Since 1966, the branch has engaged in promoting historic sites as tourist destinations by organizing the South-Mazovian Night Trek Rally. The first rally took place in 1966 and ended in the historic village of Czersk.
Since 1977, the branch has been issuing commemorative medals. Volunteer Włodzimierz Majdewicz of Warsaw is the originator of most designs. Others have been designed by the branch’s members, including Władysław Gwardys. The first medal was issued in 1977 (edition of 300) to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society’s Main Board’s Hiking & Sightseeing Committee. Medals have been issued in connection with important anniversaries encompassing the whole organization, Warka, the region, and country.
The Branch has always been focused on working with the youth. Each year, thousands of young people take part in Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society’s events (rallies, meetings, kayaking trips), whose main goal is to teach them about the history and nature of tourist destinations.