FRANKLIN, Mass.—Camp Haiastan celebrated another milestone in its celebrated history on Sunday.
Three buildings underwent significant transformations during the off season in preparation for the 2019 camping season. After completing the new shower bathroom building two years ago thanks to the generosity of Dikran and Maro Megeurditchian, the old shower building and the old bathrooms sat idly. Never to rest on his laurels, Executive Director David Hamparian began to fundraise and solidify plans to renovate and repurpose these buildings. With the assistance of the newly-formed infrastructure committee, it was decided to make one building a new arts and crafts facility and the other a staff lounge combined with a new laundry facility.
Previous benefactors Nancy Guzelian and Arthur Bedrosian agreed to fund the projects donating $100,000 and $64,000 respectively. The new laundry expanded capacity to 10 new high efficiency washers and dryers. The staff lounge is separated from the laundry by a locking door allowing parents to do laundry on Sundays. The staff lounge allows space for the staff to rest, have late night snacks or chat with family and friends in a private atmosphere—a great improvement over the couch in the back of the mess hall. Both facilities have been heavily utilized this summer adding value to the staff, camper and parent experience.
The “upper shed” was formerly the bathroom building utilized by families renting the summer cabins surrounding the conference room at the top of the hill near the entrance. The facility had most recently been used to house the camp’s utility vehicles and building materials. In danger of collapsing, Anita Babikian was contacted and asked what we needed. No stranger to significant donations to Camp Haiastan, she agreed to save the building with her generosity.
The building was fortified; desperate for additional storage space for camp records, the attic was supported to double as a secure storage area avoiding the expense of a new building. Babikian was impressed with the camp’s creativity and resourcefulness and agreed to add to her donation to complete the renovation.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, accompanied by six members of the clergy, blessed the buildings during the ceremony conducted by former Board of Directors member and master of ceremonies Michael Bahtiarian. His powerful prayers and inspiring words set the tone for the day.
Board of Directors Chairman Michael Guzelian spoke to the history of aunt Nancy Guzelian’s lifelong commitment to Camp Haiastan and many other Armenian organizations. The building was dedicated to her mother Makrouhi Guzelian. The Guzelian family has been among the camp’s staunchest supporters in all facets for three generations.
Longtime Board of Directors member and current treasurer Steve Mesrobian spoke on behalf of the ARF and the impact of these donations.
Outgoing Armenian Relief Society (ARS) representative MaryAnne Bonjuklian reflected on the strong relationship with Camp Haiastan and the organization’s current pledge to make the Armenian school program stronger by adding air conditioning to the stifling hot Fermanian Recreation Hall where classes and lectures are held. This upgrade is scheduled to be completed before the start of the 2020 camping season.
Arthur Bedrosian told the entertaining story of how he had not enjoyed his camper experience but recognized the powerful impact Camp Haiastan has had on his cousin Rita Simonian and the Simonian, Bahtiarian and Bedrosian families. His donation was made in her honor. She in turn dedicated the building to Genocide survivor Hayganush Bahtiarian.
Outgoing Executive Director David Hamparian reflected on all the assistance he has received over the years, identifying the day’s true heroes, Nancy Guzelian, Arthur Bedrosian and Anita Babikian. He challenged all those in attendance to value all the friendships made, all the obstacles overcome, all lessons learned and to be respectful to each other. He asked the campers and staff in attendance to strive to be the people we were honoring today, that maybe someday we will be honoring their commitment to Camp Haiastan.