Camp Javakhk: The best decision I’ve ever made

Pascale Baghdisar at Camp Javakhk 2022

I decided to sign up with Birthright Armenia in December. A few emails and some paperwork later, I arrived in Armenia on April 30. I volunteered in Yerevan for one month and two months in Gyumri. While I was still volunteering in Gyumri, I heard about Camp Javakhk through other Birthright Armenia participants. I signed up as soon as I heard about it, not knowing much about Camp Javakhk other than the FAQ posted on their website. Was this an impulsive decision? Definitely. But, it was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. 

I returned to Yerevan to meet the other camp counselors and embark on this crazy and unexpected journey with them. One night out and a long bus ride later, we finally reached Tbilisi. I still had no idea of the journey I was embarking on, but I knew I was in good company. Another bus ride later, we finally made it to Akhalkalak, our last destination. 

Pascale Baghdisar leading the youth of Camp Javakhk 2022

I have nothing but positive things to say about Akhalkalak. I think the people here are incredibly warm and inviting. People greet us in the streets and offer us their help all the time. I think Akhalkalak is a very welcoming city, unlike Montreal, where I am from. It is also common to see kids playing in the streets at all hours of the day and even at night. 

I have been a scouts leader for five years now, and I have volunteered in a day camp in Gyumri for a month; but honestly nothing could have prepared me for Camp Javakhk. There is just something special about the kids here. They are genuinely happy to be there and even happier that they get to meet us. I loved playing, singing and dancing with them. I have so many fond memories of them: a very intense dodgeball game, a second Vartavar and a soccer match where the kids told me I should not play with them because I was “worth at least two players.” 

Pascale Baghdisar, Carrie Minassian, Isabel Hagobian and Ani Khachatourian

I was in Akhalkalak for only a week, but it is a week I will always remember fondly. I think that Camp Javakhk is all about what energy you put into it, and the kids always reciprocate it. I hope I left as much of an impact on these kids as they had on me. This is not a goodbye; this is a see you again, Camp Javakhk! 

Camp Javakhk staff 2022
Pascale Baghdisar

Pascale Baghdisar

Pascale Baghdisar is an LL.M student at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. She completed an LL.B in the University of Montreal. She has a passion for journalism and photography.
Pascale Baghdisar

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