BY KEVORK MADENLIAN
WRIGHTWOOD—On November 6th, over 40 AYF, AYF Juniors and ARF members waited anxiously at the Orange County Armenian center for their bus to arrive to venture off to AYF Camp for their ARF-AYF annual getaway weekend. As the air gets colder with every mile up the mountain, so does the anticipation with what the weekend will have in store. Singing songs and playing games, the bus full of members arrived at camp ready for the weekend. Having members that were experiencing this getaway trip for the first time, Friday night was spent settling in, getting familiar with AYF Camp and laughing over ice breakers and board games. The weekend directors, Seto Cherchian and Tro Tutunjian divided the camp into their respective cabins combined with members from AYF, AYF Juniors and ARF.
Saturday morning began with wake up, washing up and morning exercises. The weekend was officially opened with the raising of the ARF and Armenian flags as members sang “Mshag Panvor.” Following breakfast, Ungerouhi Hrache Novruzyan from the AYF gave members a “How To” educational on planning events and running meetings. It is very essential to make sure members know how to properly plan and execute meetings and events to make the transition from AYF Juniors into AYF Seniors as smooth as possible. Soon after the educational, the eager members had a friendly game of dodgeball. Both teams were made of AYF, AYF Juniors and AYF members to create a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
Unger Steve Dadaian and Unger Ara Meguerditchian were both invited to speak to our members about the current situation at the borders in Armenia along with membership motivation. Unger Steve spoke about the cause of Turkey joining NATO and the many treaties that drew the borders of Armenia we have today. This was a topic that several Ashod Yergat members had been very interested in and had been asking for over the last few months. NATO is a topic that isn’t discussed as often as it should be in the AYF and to get a background on it from Unger Steve was very beneficial to the members.
Following lunch, Unger Ara Mgrdichian gave a lecture about how Armenians should think about how they can help Armenia with whatever career path they choose. He spoke about the reality of everyone’s busy schedules and how members should regularly remind themselves why they joined this organization to keep themselves motivated.
All three of the educationals for the weekend really had members thinking about what it means to be an AYF/ ARF member. Looking around the room, there was a sense of belonging as it became obvious to the members that they were all more than just friends, they have created a second family for themselves within our community. The evening ended with a krakhjank (party). Members taught one another traditional Armenian dances and sang songs until the late evening hours.
During the Sunday morning debrief, the members were given the opportunity to express their thoughts about the weekend. “This is a weekend that our ARF, AYF and AYF Juniors look forward to all year round. It’s an incredible way to start off the year knowing that we work together as one unit” said Chairperson of AYF “Ashod Yergat.” 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.