Over 150 AYF Juniors and Seniors Gather for Annual Winter Getaway

Campers, counselors, and directors at this year's AYF Juniors Getaway at AYF Camp.
Campers, counselors, and directors at this year's AYF Juniors Getaway at AYF Camp.

Campers, counselors, and directors at this year’s AYF Juniors Getaway at AYF Camp.

WRIGHTWOOD – AYF Camp was at full capacity over the President’s Day long weekend as more than 120 members of the Armenian Youth Federation Juniors gathered for their Annual Winter Getaway.

Joined by some thirty AYF Seniors, who volunteered as counselors, the Juniors enjoyed classic AYF camp activities such as Wacky Olympics, butt volleyball, Armenian dancing, song competitions and hiking.

“I am grateful that more than 150 AYF Juniors and Seniors united this weekend to learn together, have fun together and be together,” shared Raffi Hamparian, a parent whose three daughters attended the AYF Juniors Winter Getaway. “I am grateful that my daughters are learning about their heritage, culture and common cause – in a wonderful, clean and safe environment,” added Hamparian. “This was the vision of Karekin Njdeh in 1933 and the reason why I am so proud of the AYF Juniors for continuing the proud legacy of the AYF.”

Participants listened to a presentation by Lena Bozoyan of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund and the upcoming telethon, for which AYF Juniors chapters across the region have been organizing fundraising events.

“My main goal for this weekend was for each Junior to enjoy one another and learn from each other,” explained Tro Krikorian, the co-director for the weekend and a recent AYF alumnus. “My message to them was to take what they learned back to their chapters and communities, to be proud of themselves and proud of the work they will do in this beautiful organization.”

Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s Chairperson Rebecca Berberian presented her experience as she joined ANCA Western Region Chairperson Nora Hovsepian on a recent trip to Western Armenia for the filming of “Journey to the Homeland.” Juniors watched the documentary, which was edited by AYF Juniors Central Council member Hovig Kazandjian, and had an opportunity to ask questions.

“Hopeful is the only word I can use to describe my feelings after this incredible weekend,” said Koko Abounayan a counselor from the AYF Seniors “Sardarabad” chapter. “The strength and intelligence of our youth was evident through each activity and will continue to be for many years to come.”

Campers, counselors, and directors Flash Peace in support of Armenians in Syria.

Campers, counselors, and directors Flash Peace in support of Armenians in Syria.

The campers also learned about the history and purpose of the AYF through a presentation by Razmig Sarkissian, an AYF Central Executive member and Director of the AYF Juniors chapter in Montebello.

“I was extremely excited to spend the weekend with our AYF Juniors. I wanted to make each member/camper feel as if they had value and to help mentor them in our organization.” said Arlene Tutunjian camp co-director and an AYF alumnus. “I walked away feeling I benefitted from the weekend more than any other person. This group gave me purpose to invest more time and energy in our youth. They gave me hope that the future of our organization will be bright and successful” added Tutunjian. “We had an amazing group of juniors attend the AYF Juniors Getaway. They spoke about topics and issues that the average youth would not know about or even think of. I am humbled and appreciate this opportunity that I was given. I will treasure every moment and look forward to seeing each of the campers as they take the next step of transferring to AYF Seniors where they take initiative and work on the suggestions they made.”

The campers were also quite surprised, some starstruck, when Sunday evening Karnig Sarkissian made the Trek to camp, spoke with the campers and joined them in singing Revolutionary songs.

“This weekend made me feel very proud to be an AYF Junior,” said Hagop Khayalian an AYF Junior from the Pasadena Nigol Touman chapter. “We had great educationals, fun games, hiking, dancing, singing and made new friends. I had the best time! AYF Juniors and camp are the best combination.”

“On behalf of the Juniors Central Council I would like to extend our gratitude to the AYF Camp management board as well as all the counselors, directors, presenters, guests and parents who each played an important role in providing our juniors with a fun, educational, engaging and empowering experience this weekend,” said AYF Juniors Central Council Chairman Saro Shirinian.

The AYF Juniors is a community organization for youth specifically from the ages of 8 to 16 years old. As an extension of the AYF and its core values, the AYF Juniors connect youth with their Armenian heritage, and politically and socially engages them with critical issues facing Armenians. For more information or to join follow AYF Juniors Western Region on Facebook, e-mail ayfjuniors@ayfwest.org or call (818) 500-8883.

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