FRANKLIN, Mass.—The Board of Directors of AYF Camp Haiastan has announced that Seran Tcholakian and Ani Changelian will return as directors of the 2020 camping season. Last year the two led an enthusiastic staff and together assured a safe, fun and healthy summer experience for the hundreds of children in attendance.
Tcholakian was a camper for many years. Originally from New York, she now lives in Farmington, Michigan with her husband Rafi and their five children, who have attended Camp and served on staff. She is a graduate of Hunter College and a longtime teacher at the Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Dearborn.
Changelian also has an extensive history with the Camp. She started out as a camper and then served many years as Day Camp Director. She received her masters in education from the New York Institute of Technology, Downing College. Changelian lives in Bedford, Massachusetts with her husband Andrew and their two children, who also have attended Camp and served on staff. She previously worked as a kindergarten teacher at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown.
Located in Franklin, Massachusetts, AYF Camp Haiastan was founded in 1951. The camp overlooks Uncas Pond and is encircled by 100 acres of unspoiled forest land. The residential Camp provides an extensive outdoor experience combined with Armenian cultural and educational activities.
In the past few years, the Camp has undergone major improvements to its facilities and infrastructure. “It was through the great financial generosity of our benefactors, donors and supporters that we were able to undertake this extensive construction effort,” said executive director David Hamparian, adding that the growth in attendance, the conditions of some of the buildings, as well as the need to both upgrade and re-purpose other buildings were the driving factors for the renovations.
“The Board of Directors is very pleased with the physical condition of the Camp,” said chairman Michael Guzelian. The Camp is now set up for growth while not compromising safety and health. Furthermore, the upgrade in facilities have made it easier to be flexible and introduce new and contemporary activities. “We have turned our full attention to improving and revising our programs, both athletic and cultural,” added Guzelian.
Based on their experiences and observations over the past year, the returning summer directors have presented insightful suggestions to the Board, which is in the process of reviewing them, keeping in mind its commitment to providing a safe and fun learning experience for campers as well as staff. “During our two-day meeting in January, the Board discussed at length what new and innovative programs we can introduce,” commented Guzelian.
The addition of air conditioning in the rec hall will certainly provide some comfort while participating in cultural and educational activities, including daily Armenian school. The addition of a building solely dedicated to arts and crafts has presented new options for the program.
This season’s camping schedule begins on Sunday, June 28 with the Teen Session. This two-week period is dedicated to 15- and 16-year-olds. The program is adjusted to meet their unique and particular needs.
The following six weeks, beginning on Sunday, July 12 are grouped into two-week segments and open to children ages eight to fourteen. The Camp also offers a “try-out” one-week session from August 9 to 16 for children who have never attended Camp Haiastan and would like to experience it before attending the standard two-week session.
There is also a one-week day camp for children ages five to seven. That session takes place from Monday, June 29 to July 3.
The Camp also provides young men and women an opportunity to be a mentor, teacher and leader by serving on the staff. There are a number of positions available for qualified individuals to serve as a counselor, lifeguard, Armenian teacher and staff-in-training.
The satisfaction of serving the community and hands-on work experience have been magnetic factors for three generations of Armenian-Americans who have served on Camp Haiastan’s staff. Camp Haiastan offers young adults the opportunity to supervise and have fun with the campers while building lifelong friendships with staff members from near and far. It also allows young people the chance to meet other Armenian-Americans from the eastern region.
The future looks quite promising for Camp Haiastan as it concludes its 70th year of operation. AYF Camp Haiastan is fortunate to have volunteers who have tirelessly devoted their time to its mission. There are also several organizations, led by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) and the Armenian Youth Foundation, which have constantly provided financial assistance for various projects when required.
Please refer to the AYF Camp Haiastan website for detailed information on enrollment and available staff positions.