Orange County ARF-AYF Camp Weekend a Huge Success

Orange County ARF, AYF, and Juniors at AYF Camp

Over 50 ARF, AYF, and Juniors from OC converged on AYF Camp for the “Tebi Yergir” themed weekend.

BY LUCY DISHOIAN

SANTA ANA, Calif.—On November 1st, Orange County’s Armenian Center was filled with excited AYF Juniors, Seniors, and ARF members who were all impatiently waiting to venture off to AYF Camp for the annual ARF-AYF getaway weekend. The bus ride up to camp foreshadowed the weekend. There was a sense of camaraderie in the air. Everyone was passionately singing Armenian songs and creating life-long memories.

Campers playing games inside the lodge

The first night at camp was all about getting settled in and reacquainting with one another. Everyone participated in activities where the camp was divided into small groups and each had to accomplish certain comical tasks, creating an environment of mutual cooperation in a social atmosphere. The directors for the weekend, Nora Gourdikian and Lucy Dishoian, divided the camp into their respective cabins where each cabin had ARF, AYF and Juniors. All the participants got settled in then returned to the lodge to continue singing and dancing into the night.

Saturday morning after the wake up, wash up, and exercise, the camp gathered around the flag pole and officially opened the camp with the raising of the ARF flag and the singing of “Mshag Panvor.” The “Tebi Yergir” camp had officially begun!

The competitive daytime activity was “steal the bacon.” At night the entire camp hiked to Ball Flats to watch the sunset, take pictures and socialize. Upon returning to the lodge the entire camp played butt volleyball in what ended up to be an intense series of matches. Shortly after, the much anticipated traditional “Khrakhjank” started with kabob, Armenian music and dancing into the night. At the end of the night everyone sat together and sang our national and revolutionary songs!

The theme for the weekend, “Tebi Yergir,” was presented through a series of formal educationals as well as informal discussions in small groups. Sevan Haneshian-Bedourian gave a powerpoint presentation about Western Armenia with photographs of our historic lands. She enlightened everyone about our rich history and lit a fire inside each of our members, specifically about returning to our roots, “veratartz tebi armadner.”

Morning exercise

Later in the day, Nora Injeyan gave an educational about repatriating to Armenia. She explained to everyone how moving to Armenia is not a fantasy, but a very realistic and achievable task, and that the best way to improve the current situation in Armenia is to take action from within the current Republic. She highlighted a number of organizations that actually promote, encourage, and help Armenians repatriate. This led to an interesting discussion where Juniors, Seniors, and ARF members voiced their opinions and concerns in a free flowing exchange of ideas. Many expressed how they hope one day all of us will be living in a united Armenia.

Sunday morning, the attendees had the opportunity to express their thoughts about the weekend and to discuss how they can contribute to Armenia, Hye Tad, and to the Orange County community. The members left with bittersweet emotions as the weekend came to an end. All were excited to work together to strengthen the community and further the Armenian cause.

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