Our community is a family. It is a group of people always fighting, questioning one another, laughing, working together and making the impossible happen at the Orange County Armenian Center. For decades, families have put in everything they had to make sure that my generation followed by the next will always be able to call the agoump our home. What none of us seem to realize is that in this family, the ARF are our parents. They teach us, they watch us grow and hope that one day we can fill their shoes and pass their knowledge to the following generations. Our local OC AYF, ARF and Badanees spent this last weekend up at AYF Camp. Thirteen ARF members, eighteen AYF members and 30 badanees all participated in what we all seem to agree was one of the greatest weekends any of us had had with our community. It was a weekend full of games, educationals and discussions. It was a chance to slow down our busy lives and really get to know the faces we see every day at the agoump yet just never seem to have the time to hear their stories.
As the camp woke up early Saturday morning, we started off our day with Mshag Panvor. We had breakfast and started our first educational for the day. Unger Aram Madenlian and unger Garo Agopian talked to us about how the Orange County Armenian community had become what it is today. From Orange Trees and Armenian classes at random locations, our community was finaly able to build our center. From timelines and stories to the pictures and jokes, every single AYF member and Badanee sat there listening to ARF members childhood stories. Following the educational was probably one of the most intense game of Butt Volleyball I had ever played. With AYF and ARF combined against our Badanees, we were still not able to beat them which of course is probably because our badanees are the most competitive group of kids we know thanks to their vareech, Ungerouhi Nairy Cherchian. After a quick lunch, we were all ready to start our Mock ARF Convention. As the resolutions committee quickly jotted down notes, the convention delegates discussed two main topics regarding our cause; the Tebi Yergir Movement and How to get the Youth more involved. After two long hours of debates and discussion the resolutions committee was able to come up with a resolution for our community and our organization as a whole.
Whereas the ARF was founded by the youth, whereas the youth is the lifeline of our organization, whereas our nation’s future is in the hands of our youth, be it resolved the ARF around the world, proactively encourages the youth to be active participants in all issues concerning our nation. Be it further resolved the ARF builds bridges to fill the generations gaps that exist in order for our youth to continue our work towards a free, independent and united Armenia.
Joining the ranks has been an issue for ARF for some time now and not only is this an issue for Orange County but it is something that the entire organization is currently concerned about. Because of the structure of our community and agoump, we thankfully see most of our gomideh every single Friday night, however, that isnt always enough. As close as our older AYF members are with our Gomideh members, the large number of badanee transfers do not have the same connection. It is an even larger age gap for the transfers and it isnt as comfortable to speak to them. I speak for myself and for every other AYF member that was present this weekend when I say that this weekend was a start to something special. We have been in AYF for a few years now and the faces we see around the agoump and at meetings were seen differently this weekend. Our Gomideh has put together a Youth Committee this year to work closely with Orange Countys Exec to plan events to make sure that those bridges are built. This year we started off with an AYF/ARF bonding weekend at AYF camp. Just the weekend itself has opened the eyes for many about what the ARF really does and about actually joining the ranks in the future. We want to be involved in ARF as much as we can to better educate ourselves and to ask as many questions as we can to feel more comfortable about the idea of joining ARF. After the discussions, the games, the laughter and tears we looked around to see the faces we see almost every day and felt something different this time. Its not just a hobby or an organization. The AYF, the ARF is a family.