Reformed Pionýr children’s movement marks 25th anniversary

Photo: archive of Pionýr

After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, everybody thought that the country’s biggest children’s organizations, Pionýr, would fall into oblivion, being replaced by the more respected Scouts. But Pionýr has bounced back and this year celebrates 25 years since it was reinvented. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Pionýr’s Jakub Kořínek and first asked him if the organisation had any ties to its communist predecessor.

Photo: archive of Pionýr
“We don’t have any ties to any ideology, political or religious. We are just an organisation for children. We do leisure time activities, summer camps, trips. We have groups and open clubs for non-members.”

So the organisation has nothing to do with the Communist Party or with the former Pionýr.

“Pionýr was not tied that much to the Communist Party. It wasn’t a part of the Communist Party. I can’t say that there were no ties, but it was always mainly about activities for children: summer camps, winter camps and so on. That has not changed. Pionýr today still works for children. In these aspects it is the same. We just don’t have any ties to any ideology. That’s the only change.”

What about the Scouts? Do you regard them as competition?

Photo: archive of Pionýr
“I can’t say that we are in any strict competition. The target group is similar, of course. Some of the activities are also similar as well. But there are also some significant differences. We have no ties to any ideology, while boy scouts have ties to Christianity.

“Also our activities are co-educated while boys’ scouts, as the title suggests, have their activities separated, in principle. So that’s also a big difference.”

How big is the organisation today? How many people are there currently in Pionýr?

“There are currently about 15 thousand members. But as I sad, we have open clubs, which are open, so anyone can come and join the activities. Our summer and winter camps are also open and about one-third to one half of their participants are non-members.”

What about the attributes of Pionýr, such as the blue shirts and red scarves? Have you kept any of these?

“We don’t have blue shirts any more. We have a new logo, but there is no dress code. We do have some common things, which you can wear but you are not required to. Like many things in Pionýr today, it is optional.”

Photo: archive of Pionýr
Finally, what is the significance of the 25th anniversary?

“Well the significance is big, of course, because it’s the first time any of the Pionýr organisations that were here in the past reached 25 years of interrupted activity. I think it says that we are not just surviving, but we are capable of doing what we want. And the fact that we are doing it for 25 years shows that we are not doing it badly.”