Summer is always about having fun outside away from noisy city life and immersing oneself in nature. Summer camps are the best solution for these getaways. At camp, young people learn to be closer to nature and find themselves in such situations which they have to cope with on their own. Generally, attending camps during childhood is beneficial for personal growth and making lifelong friendships. It’s a stage that youth should pass in the school of life.
This year in Artsakh, there were a number of summer camps organized for elementary and university students alike. They are all different, but they have one thing in common: to make the younger generation of Artsakh happier and stronger and inspire them with new ideas for their futures.
Catmandoo is a tourist camp established in the village of Patara in the region of Askeran in 2014.
“The main goal of this camp is to raise a generation which knows its country, its nature and history and to teach them the art of surviving and orienting in the wild and in nature with great ease,” says founder and camp director Albert Andryan.
Over one-thousand young people from different parts of Artsakh and the world have attended this camp over the last eight years.
David Arzumanyan of Stepanakert has been attending Catmandoo since he was six years old. “I love the tranquility and happiness at this place. I made new friends, and I am also known as ‘David Photographer.’ I like taking photos and making these happy moments live forever.”
This year, there were more than 200 students who applied to participate in summer camp. Because of the demand, organizers decided to make two groups: one attended the camp from July 5 to 14. The other group would attend from July 15 to 24. Organizers did their best to accommodate as many students as possible, including children of displaced families and the sons and daughters of martyred soldiers during the 2020 Artsakh War. Participants from Aghavno were also excited to be at camp and interact with their friends from different parts of Artsakh.
There are a range of activities offered at the camp: hiking, excursions, art of survival, lectures on Artsakh history and geography, volleyball, table tennis, soccer, intellectual games, dancing, acting classes, singing and of course, engaging conversations around the campfire.
Former campers and current organizers Tamar Grigoryan (24) and Lusine Abrahamyan (23) arranged what they called Camp Quest. Campers had five hours to finish their assigned tasks to win one of the most desired prizes: a huge biscuit cake. Grigoryan and Abrahamyan mentioned that they wanted to make something good for the camp, because the camp gave them the best memories and friends over the years.
“This is how we wanted to express our gratitude to Catmandoo,” said Grigoryan. “The Quest will help participants develop creative and analytical thinking. They will have no choice but to work together as a team and spend quality time together.”
Camp is divided into five groups; each group has its own name and motto and they all compete with each other over the course of 10 days.
This summer marked Nare Harutyunyan’s second time at Catmandoo camp. “I like spending my summer here with new, talented and amazing people,” said the 15 year old from Stepanakert. “There is something magical in this place which keeps us charmed and makes us come back again and again.”
Besides all the activities, the location of the camp itself is favorable as it is in one of the most beautiful forests of Artsakh, near the river where children can swim and have fun after lunch. Everything about this camp qualifies it as a piece of heaven on earth.
Emilia Khachaturyan is an 11 year old from Moscow who visits Artsakh during the summer. “When I learned about Catmandoo camp, I decided to participate in it. That was the best decision, as I made new friends here. I had an amazing time. I liked the friendly atmosphere and delicious food. I will definitely come back next year.”
The closing ceremony for Catmandoo Summer Camp 2022 took place on July 23. It was a celebratory event with traditional khorovats (Armenian barbecue), an award ceremony and dances until the morning. Both the organizers and the campers have already begun counting down the days for the next camp session and will work hard to make it even more unforgettable in 2023.
What an incredibly uplifting program. Are the organizers from
Artsakh, Armenia or the diaspora?
The organizers are all from Artsakh, mostly from Stepanakert.