The AYF Youth Corps program provides a unique opportunity for Armenian youth in the Diaspora to establish and strengthen ties with the homeland.
The program began in 1994 after a cease-fire agreement was signed, ending the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Between 1994-2007 the AYF sent Youth Corps volunteers to Nagorno-Karabakh to help rebuild many of the war-torn villages in our newly liberated Arstakh.
In 2008, the AYF Youth Corps program shifted from rebuilding shattered buildings to operating a summer day camp for underprivileged youth in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. With the establishment of the camp, Youth Corps volunteers were able to provide hundreds of children with an unforgettable and productive summer. Since 2011, the program expanded from one location Gyumri to multiple other campsites across Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
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, visiting historic sites and enjoying the excitement of Yerevan. The following 5 weeks are spent working as counselors at day camps for underprivileged youth in multiple towns across Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
From its inception, Youth Corps has been empowering young Diasporans to take a hands-on approach in the nation-building process of 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 and on the lives of Armenia’s most impoverished children and families.
Through this summer camp experience, campers learn basic English, patriotic songs, arts and crafts, as well as learning about the diversity of the Diaspora and tolerance for our differences; all of which are critical in helping them grow to become members of a healthy civil society. 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.
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 Lake Sevan, 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