The camp was for 3 weeks and Janusz was their counselor and the 10 year boys were apprehensive and somewhat fearful, far from an ideal picture of youth , and his ideals of child behavior were quickly tested and then he had to administer discipline to the reality they created.
"There for the first time I came in touch with a community of children and learned the alphabet of educational practice. " The camp was 80 miles from Warsaw and funded by an assimilated Jewish philanthropist.Polish was the stipulated language spoken and heard on the gramophone,the culture the Russians were trying to obliterate. Korczak,the bungling Gulliver in the world of Lilliputians, his portrayal in his humorous and moving book, depicted himself unprepared for the raucous and wild behavior of the boys. Having complete freedom to create his own program of games, swimming, excursions, and storytelling, he had blithely concentrated on locating a gramophone, a magic lantern, fireworks, checkers, and dominoes.(QUOTE) He was searching for warm memories from the hungry,disabused and disinherited. There was a menacing mob to keep under control. It was then he learned that keeping order depends entirely upon the ability to anticipate -"having foreseen, it is possible to prevent." (QUOTE)
He was tested by their noises in the semi dark dormitory at night to test his reactions.Korczak rose to the challenge and grabbed a bold whistler and pulled his ears in punishing his act.
Summer CampsThey start to laugh with a different laugh than the one they had in
the city.-Moshki, Joski, and Srule
One summer day in 1907, Janusz
Korczak, dressed in sports clothes, stood in the large courtyard of the Summer
Camps Society and watched as one hundred and fifty poor Jewish boys arrived for
what would be their first trip to the country. He noted the boys who came with
families and those who straggled in alone, the ones who were clean and those who
were neglected; he noted their apprehensiveness as they said final goodbyes for
three weeks, and their fearfulness and shyness as they lined up in pairs. He
knew they were wondering what kind of counselor he´d be -one who was strict or
one they could hoodwink.
Having volunteered his services to the camp society
while in medical school, he valued the opportunity it offered to work with
children outside of a hospital environment. The camp to which he was assigned,
about eighty miles from Warsaw, had been funded by an assimilated Jewish
philanthropist, with the stipulation that only Polish be spoken. Forbidden
Polish music and patriotic songs were played on the gramophone as a way of
exposing the children to the Polish national culture and history that the
Russians were still trying to obliterate. in the humorous and moving book he
wrote about his experiences with those ten-year-old boys, Moshki, Joski, and
Srule (diminutives of typical Jewish names), Korczak portrayed himself as a
bungling Gulliver in the land of streetwise Lilliputians who taught him
everything he knew about the young: "There for the first time I came in touch
with a community of children and learned the alphabet of educational practice.
Rich in illusions, lacking in experience, sentimental, and young, I believed
that the mere fact that i wanted to achieve something with children was enough."
The thirty children assigned to him had seemed a reasonable number because he
did not as yet understand the skill he would need to keep the "menacing mob"
under control. Having complete freedom to create his own program of games,
swimming, excursions, and storytelling, he had blithely concentrated on locating
a gramophone, a magic lantern, fireworks, checkers, and dominoes.
was, like someone wearing kid gloves and a carnation in bis buttonhole, setting
out in search of enchanting impressions and warm memories to be got from the
hungry, abused, and disinherited," he wrote. "I wanted to discharge my duties at
the cost of little more than a few smiles and cheap fireworks . . . I expected
their friendliness and was unprepared for their shortcomings bred in the dark
alleys of city life."
When the boys made a wild dash from the train to the
horse-drawn carts waiting to take them to the camp, the new counselor had his
first moment of panic. The most aggressive ones claimed the best seats, the most
awkward lost their bags, prayer books, and toothbrushes, and there was
pandemonium before everyone was finally accounted for. It was then he learned
that keeping order depends entirely upon the ability to anticipate -"having
foreseen, it is possible to prevent." His nerves were on edge that first night.
One of the boys who was unaccustomed to sleeping alone on a narrow bed slid with
a thud off his freshly filled hay mattress onto the floor. Others moaned or
talked in their sleep. The next day was no better. When the boys weren´t
squabbling over seating at the tables or who slept where, or attacking each
other with belt buckles, they were baiting him with noises in the semidark
dormitory to see what he would do. Flustered by his inability to maintain either
discipline or order, he announced he would punish the next one who made a noise.
Grabbing "the bold whistler" who took up the challenge, Korczak pulled his ears,
and even threatened to lock him out on the veranda, where a fierce watchdog was