A Little Different Than AYF Summer Camp
Before Youth Corps started, I thought about what it might be like doing a program for six weeks in my homeland. My friends who had participated in previous years had told me about their amazing experiences and I couldn’t wait to have my own. I was extremely nervous at first, but the past three weeks have been incredible.
I’ve been going to AYF Camp near Los Angeles for the past twelve years. Joining Youth Corps and coming to Armenia, I thought the camps we were going to organize here were going to be like AYF Camp. After going through three weeks of camp, two in Artsakh and one in Broshian, I think it’s safe to say that I was both right and wrong. I was right in the sense that the Jampars we do here are like the camp I’ve grown to love. We play games like steal the bacon, butt volleyball, and dodgeball, we give the kids educationals about the ARF, and we teach them heghapokhagan songs in preparation for a song competition at the end of the week. A typical week at these Jampars consist of these activities, along with many more, and i’ve loved every minute of the last three weeks.
But there is one main difference between AYF Camp and the Jampars in Armenia. As I was sitting in Broshian with two girls who were going to sing the duet for the red group, I thought to myself, “These two girls are singing Garodee Hishadageen. But not only are they singing that song, they’re also Garod’s nieces.” At that moment, I realized how honored I was to be a part of this program. Who can say that they drove by the Mamik and Babik monument every morning to go to Jampar in Artsakh? Or that they woke up to a view of the majestic Mount Ararat in Broshian? How may people can say that they listened to a duet during song competition, sung by the nieces of Armenian hero Garod Mgrdchian, or that they got to meet his father? How many people could say that they saw where Bedo lived before he went off to the Kharapagh war? How many people could say that they became a part of the lives of hundreds of children in our homeland?
Thanks to Youth Corps, I can say yes to all of the above. That’s what Youth Corps is all about: being with the people, living with the people, and experiencing what they do in their daily lives. And I’m so happy to be a part of every minute of it. Two more weeks left… Gyumri here I come!
– Vana Andonian