The AYF’s Youth Corps program provides memorable, productive and exciting means for Armenian youth to establish and strengthen ties with the homeland.
The program began in 1994 after a cease-fire was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In its early years the AYF sent Youth Corps volunteers to Nagorno-Karabakh to help rebuild many of the newly independent republic’s war-torn villages.
In 2008, the AYF opened a summer youth camp in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. With the establishment of the camp, the program changed its focus from rebuilding shattered buildings to connecting Armenians in the Diaspora with Armenians in the homeland. Since 2011, Youth Corps has expanded to multiple locations across Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
From its inception, Youth Corps has been empowering young Diasporans to take on a more direct role in the nation-building process in Armenia. The summer camps continue the program’s long tradition of giving young Armenians from the United States a chance to make a direct impact in the homeland.
The Youth Corps program is 6 weeks long, with 5 weeks of volunteer work and 1 week of touring.
During the first week of the program, Youth Corps participants spend time traveling throughout Armenia and Karabakh, visiting historic sites and connecting with the local natives. The following 5 weeks are spent operating a summer camp for underprivileged youth in multiple towns across Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
This program gives young Armenians from the United States a chance to make a direct impact on the lives of some of Armenia’s most impoverished children and families. The camps accept hundreds of children every summer and provide a safe and fun environment for them to build new friendships and acquire new skills.
Through this summer camp experience, the children learn about respect, trust, tolerance, diversity and responsibility; all of which are critical in helping them grow to become members of a healthy civil society. The camp program is just as special for its counselors, who plan the curriculum, teach the classes, and spend six months ahead of their trip doing grassroots fundraising in their local communities to raise the money needed to run the day camp and live in Armenia.
In addition to volunteering with kids, Youth Corps participants travel throughout Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Javakhk, experiencing historic, exciting and off the beaten path adventures. Participants can expect to visit such traditional sites as Matenadaran, Echmiadzin, Dzidzernagapert, and Sardarabad, as well as unique destinations like the ancient Monastery at Tatev, Karahunj and sites throughout Nagorno-Karabakh and Javakhk. This combination of touring and volunteer work is perfect for both first time visitors and frequent travelers to Armenia.
Before you apply, see our FAQs.
For questions or more information, contact the AYF Office at (818) 507-1933 or AYF@AYFwest.org