BY SAREEN OHANNESSIAN
Since the age of seven, I have looked forward to summer break every year like most kids. However, while most my age enjoy the freedom of no school, I look forward to attending AYF Summer Camp. Every summer I have attended since my first year has been filled with new knowledge and memorable experiences. AYF Camp has connected me with some of the smartest Armenians of my generation and has given me the opportunity to learn and share some of my unforgettable experiences. Campers’ ages range between eight and seventeen, which means you can learn a lot from everyone and everyone can learn from you. This summer I got to enjoy my last year as a camper and it was one of the most amazing and unforgettable weeks of AYF Camp I have ever attended. I made new lifelong friends, learned more in depth about our rich Armenian heritage, and went out of my comfort zone to try new activities that I haven’t before. These activities included learning how to dance the Tamzara, finally reaching the top of the rock climbing wall, stealing the bacon, and singing a duet during the ever so important song competition Saturday night.
All the activities at camp created wonderful opportunities to learn and learning often took its shape in leadership. Specifically, one of my favorite moments was when I ran for AYF Camp president during the ANCA mock election and had to debate with the other candidates in front of the entire camp. Although I lost the election, I gained experience in being a leader and was influential towards the younger campers who will soon be running for AYF Camp president themselves. With my color team on my side, we all learned the importance of teamwork and support. I especially felt their support when they chanted my name during the voting and results process.
I only named a few of the unforgettable, life-changing experiences that bring me back to AYF Camp every year. Camp gave me more than what I can learn at school; skills I will incorporate throughout my daily life wherever I go. I plan to bring all I’ve learned back to AYF Camp with me as a counselor to be able to give a new set of campers the same opportunity and experiences.
AYF Summer Camp offers a wide variety of activities which include but are not limited to field games, competition games, and outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, swimming and rock climbing, while AYF Day camp offers younger campers a bridge to the summer camp experience getting them acquainted with Armenian culture, arts & crafts, Armenian history, daily exercises and much more.