First run of the Volunteers Camp

In Autumn 2015 The National Institute of Heritage initiated a competition for financing the volunteer activities for the historic heritage. We wrote the application entry, gathered the vital documentation – we applied to the competition in December 2015. We had to wait till Spring to learn about the positive results, yet it was no sooner than in June when we signed the financing agreement. Full of concerns about possible success or failure of the project, we started preparing the main part of it, namely – the Volunteers Camp. Due to the lack of full-time employees we had to split the event into weekend camps. We started the enrollment and impatiently waited for the first applications.


To our great surprise, there were more applications than we expected. Therefore, despite we offered an overnight stay, some of the participants had to commute each day to the Shed and some were accommodated outside the facility. 14 daredevils from different parts of Poland (sometimes as distant as Szczecin) took part in the first part of the camp, which lasted from 5th to 8th August. All participants arrived in Skierniewice on Friday afternoon.


First day was devoted to show the volunteers around and make them familiar with the collection and rolling stock placed in the Shed. We also devoted some time for a general Health and Safety training with strong emphasis on fire hazards and firefighting. The practical part of the training consisted of actual fire extinguishing with different types of extinguishers. We guess that such form of training will provide the participants much more vital experience than dull theoretical lectures. The evening was spend on common dinner and long talks.

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During the first camp we wanted the participants to “taste” the different activities which are performed in such a large facility like historical engine shed. Therefore, we encouraged them to take part in each type of work, even if it does not seem to be the most attractive.

One of the most important aspects of existence of the facility like our Shed is the education and promotion of railway history. Open days were a perfect opportunity for the volunteers to try the work of a tour guide and help in the preparation of the event. Participants of the Camp also took part in the upkeep of the area surrounding the shed e.g. care for the green areas. Those eager to “exercise” in the fresh air could help clean up the remains after the building renovation works.

Large number of volunteers brought the life back to the Shed, so for the external observer it seem that the facility is working as during its best times.


Yet, the most popular of works was the renovation of the class Ol49 steam engine standing in front of the roundhouse. Volunteers helped in cleaning the vehicle from the old paint and preparation of the cleaned surfaces for painting. They also helped in tracing and cutting the sheet metal for boiler covers, and regenerated the multiple small parts and fittings which will find their place on the engine after the final painting.



The organization of the first Camp was a very interesting challenge that, with only minor shortcomings, we managed to accomplish. The work completed by the participants will undoubtedly speed up many activities in the Shed, especially those related with renovation of class Ol49-4. For the volunteers it was a unique experience, opportunity to meet new people and effectively spend a free time. And are the participants satisfied with the stay? It seems yes – many already declared they want to help us more, even during the next camp. As there is nothing more exciting like evening walk through the sleepless roundhouse or late-night fight with stubborn lever frame.

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