Camp Javakhk Expands to the Village of Darakyugh
AKHALKALAK, Georgia—Camp Javakhk concluded another successful year of camps in three municipalities in Javakhk (Samtskhe-Javakheti region) and one village in the Tsalka* district of the Kvemo Kartli region, Georgia.
Camp Javakhk hosted camps with the participation of 400-plus campers in Akhalkalak, Akhaltskha, and Ninotsminda (formerly Bogdanovka), and for the first time in the village of Darakyugh (Darakovi in Georgian) in Tsalka.
A total of 26 young Armenian-Americans participated as counselors in this year’s camps throughout the four sessions held over two weeks. The first two weeks were held in Darakyugh and Ninotsminda; the second two were held in Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha.
The camp program included instruction in basic health, Armenian history, and current events; arts and crafts; friendly competitions; as well as song and dance. Special emphasis was placed on the history of the native Javakhk Armenians and the periods of additional migration to Javakhk from Western Armenia and parts of Eastern Armenia.
Having participated in these camps for the past two years, the children of Ninotsminda (named after Georgia’s St. Nino) were no strangers to Camp Javakhk and more than 100 campers impatiently waited for the counselors to arrive. The camp was held at the Armenian Youth and Educational Center of Ninotsminda. The regular attendees of the cultural center were of great assistance to the camp.
Although their days were spent mainly with the campers, the counselors also took time to do some sightseeing in Ninotsminda and its neighboring villages, including the Armenian Genocide monument and historic Armenian churches and sites.
A New Location
Camp Javakhk first branched out into the region of Tsalka of Kvemo Kartli two years ago, when it first held camp in the village of Nardevan. This summer, for the first time, Camp Javakhk expanded to the village of Darakyugh. The people of Darakyugh first heard about these camps when the principal of the local Armenian school attended the closing ceremony of the camp in Nardevan two years ago. After witnessing the results of the camp’s program and the bonds creating between Diasporan Armenians and locals, she was adamant about hosting a camp in her village as well. Two years later, that became a reality.
Among the 100 participating in the Darakyugh camp were children from neighboring Armenian villages, such as Ashkala, Kushikushi, and Nardevan. The camp was held at the local Armenian school.
Counselors hosting camp in Darakyugh were also able to go on local excursions that included the breathtaking waterfalls of Dashbash, the Armenian churches in the region, and a joint outing at Saghamo Lake with counselors who were hosting camp in Ninotsminda.
Where It All Began
For the sixth consecutive year, Camp Javakhk held camps in the two locations where it all began—Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha. Almost 200 campers participated in Akhalkalak, and about 100 participated in Akhaltskha. Both camps were held at the Armenian Educational and Youth Centers of the respective towns.
In both locations, counselors were impressed to see former campers assist throughout the camp’s duration. Clearly, these Camp Javakhk alumni wanted to help continue the work of the counselors they’d met summer after summer.
Counselors visited local sightseeing destinations, including the historic Armenian churches of the region, the Mesrob Mashtots monument, and the Armenian fortress; they also went on a joint excursion to the historic caves of Vardzia.
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Another successful year has concluded that could not have become a reality without the help of all of Camp Javakhk’s sponsors and the support of the Armenian communities abroad. “The Camp Javakhk committee thanks all those who helped out and contributed to this year’s success, and we hope to continue for years to come back with the same tenacity,” read a part of a statement released by the camp’s organizing committee.
Follow Camp Javakhk on social media to view photos of the camps. Those who wish may donate to the program by visiting the Camp Javakhk Facebook page and clicking on the donate button.
* The district of Tsalka, in Kvemo Kartli, although not part of Javakhk, holds a significant Armenian population that has maintained a presence since the 1830s, when under the leadership of Archbishop Karapet Bagratuni Armenians from Erzerum, Ardahan, and Basen settled there. The difference between this region and Javakhk is that Javakhk’s Armenian population was enhanced by the 1830s migration, whereas in Tsalka the Armenian population was just forming. In the early part of the 20th century, following the Armenian Genocide and the consolidation of captured territories by Turkey, many Armenian survivors fled to areas in both Javakhk and Tsalka.