I have had hundreds of days of jampar (camp) in my life, but today was unlike any any other. New country, new people, new jampar. Going into this experience, I lacked expectations, except for those guided by ungerouhi Sanan’s non-stop praise of Camp Javakhk and everything that comes with it. Even with that, I was overwhelmingly nervous going into this experience, especially because of the language barrier. Every other jampar I had been to had been filled with familiarity and bursting with faces that have been constant throughout my childhood. This was different.
My heart pounding with anxiety and full of excitement, I walked into my first day of Javakhk Jampar. Our path into the agoump (clubhouse) was lined with a crowd of beaming smiles and my heart instantly lit up. An inkling in my soul gave me the feeling these two weeks would change my life forever. Throughout the day’s ups and downs, a smile seldom left my face. The laughs and smiles of the day easily overcame my weak Armenian language skills and frequent miscommunication. A deep gratitude and a cultural connection with my ungers (comrades) compensated for the day’s chaos. I am ecstatic to see what the next two weeks will bring.
My biggest hope for my Javakhk experience is that it be full of open hearts and open minds. With an open heart and an open mind, there is room for the love of my Armenian brothers and sisters I have yet to meet.
Gasia Oknayan is a senior member of the AYF Detroit Kopernik Tandourjian Chapter. She just graduated from High School and will be attending the University of Michigan in the fall. She has been a counselor at Camp Haiastan and this is her first year as a counselor at Camp Javakhk.