Newly elected ARF Bureau member Aram Kaloustian speaks with campers about Armenian spirit and identity.
WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. – More than 150 AYF Juniors and 50 AYF Seniors made their way up to AYF Camp over the course of two long weekends in January and February for the AYF Juniors’ Annual Winter Getaway. The Martin Luther King long weekend was allocated to campers between the ages of 12 and 16, while Presidents’ Day long weekend was allocated to those between the ages of 8 and 11.
“This year we decided to split the Annual Winter Getaway into two sessions to accommodate the growing number of AYF Juniors,” said Arlene Tutunjian, a member of the AYF Juniors Central Council. “Furthermore, the split by age range gave us the ability choose more age appropriate activities as well educational presentations that are more engaging for the campers.”
Directed by AYF Alumni Sanan Shirinian and Tro Krikorian, the first session’s theme was the role of technology in shaping Armenia. Educational presentations were given by Marietta Pashayan about the IT sector in Armenia, Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian, about the evolution of journalism and news as a result advancement in technology, and Rafi Orphali, about the “Tech Boom” in Armenia and how technology and genetic research have made it possible to trace the lineage of the Armenian people.
“I really enjoyed the Winter Getaway because everyone was more comfortable interacting with Juniors who are closer in age,” said Hagop Khayalian, a member of the AYF Juniors Pasadena Chapter and a regular at the Annual Winter Getaway.
To keep campers engaged and energized, both sessions featured classic AYF Camp activities, games and patriotic songs. During each session, campers were treated to the exciting musical accompaniment of Arick Gevorkian, who volunteers his time and talents to the AYF Juniors on a regular basis.
“Spending the weekend at AYF Camp with the AYF and AYF Juniors was a humbling experience,” said Co-Director Tro Krikorian. “The goal is that they take what they learn at camp back to their local chapters and continue being active members there.”
Directed by AYF Alumni Arpa Hatzbanian and Arek Santikian, the second session’s theme was about Armenian spirit and identity. In addition to an engaging discussion with newly elected ARF Bureau member Aram Kaloustian, presentations were given by Stepan Altounian who spoke about the identity crisis of Armenian-Americans, Saro Shirinian who ran an article writing workshop, and Claudia Mehranbod who spoke about Armenian hero Shavarsh Karapetyan and what it means to be a hero.
“The AYF Juniors Winter Getaway brings young Armenians from all chapters together in a family-oriented environment,” said Taleen Chahmelikian, parent of two AYF Juniors. “Through education and bonding, the Juniors get to create everlasting friendships and timeless memories.”
Campers were also treated with snowfall on Sunday night, a first experience for many AYF Juniors.
“On behalf of the AYF JCC we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the AYF members who served as counselors, the AYF Camp Management Board, our four directors, our volunteer EMTs Nayiri Alexander and Shant Barmaksyan, all educational presenters, all our parents for their trust, our chapter directors, our donors, and ungers Aram Kaloustian and Arick Gevorkian,” said Sylva Khayalian a member of the AYF JCC and lead organizer of the Annual Winter Getaway.
The AYF Juniors strives to nourish its members with experiences, information and resources to become ambitious and successful in their pursuit of civic, academic and career excellence, so they are best equipped to serve our communities, nation and cause. We serve our mission through active participation in our communities and during weekly gatherings held at all ten of our chapters in the Western United States.