Rebuilding a Vision: Camp Armen

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 NIV. 

With this Bible verse, His Beatitude Archbishop Sahag II Mashalian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, addressed the attendees with his congratulatory remarks and prayers during a consecration ceremony of the rebuilding of Camp Armen, located in the Tuzla district of Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Many guests participated in the ceremony including Rev. Krikor Ağabaloğlu, pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, the Apostolic administrator of the Armenian Archeparchy of Istanbul and the students of Hrant Dink School. 

In 1962, Hrant Guzelian had a vision to save and educate orphaned Armenian children. The most well-known among them was Hrant Dink and his spouse Rakel Dink, who were forced to live in a foreign society and follow a different faith. Today, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) strives to revitalize this vision by helping to restore and rebuild Camp Armen and to remember Dink’s legacy and the impact he had on children who he helped save. 

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Guzelian, a fearless hero who searched for and rescued hundreds of Armenian children left without family, identity, church or schools in the decades following the Armenian Genocide in 1915, first opened the Youth Home and later built Camp Armen of Istanbul to provide these children with shelter and love and to teach them how to honor and keep their Christian faith and Armenian heritage. 

In the late 1970s, Camp Armen was confiscated by the local authorities, and many attempts to take it back were rejected. In May 2015, resistance began when attempts were made to demolish the Camp. Nor Zartonk and Kamp Armen Solidarity guarded the camp for 180 days and prevented its destruction. As a result of a negotiation process, which included representatives of the Armenian community and politicians, and within the framework of reforms made for minorities, the property rights to “Camp Armen” were returned to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Evangelical Church on October 27, 2015. Since then, consistent efforts have been made within the Turkish-Armenian national-ecclesiastical life to rebuild the camp. Camp Armen will now be rebuilt to suit the current needs of the new generation. This initiative is carried out by a joint Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic and Armenian Evangelical program. 

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The goal is to raise $2.5 million so that the new Camp Armen will be the first and only camp in Turkey to function as a development center serving the Armenian Evangelical, Catholic and Apostolic communities every day throughout the year with much-needed social, cultural and religious development activities for the youth and help from trained volunteers.

The AMAA encourages everyone who believes in the vision of Hrant Guzelian to participate and become a part of this unique time of rebuilding Camp Armen. Camp Armen will be rebuilt to once again embrace Armenian children living in Turkey, connect them to their heritage and faith and  inspire them to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, the Youth Home/Camp Armen and Guzelian’s work have been generously supported by the AMAA.

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Please partner with the AMAA to help create a small home for Armenian children living in Turkey, perpetuate their cultural and spiritual identity and keep the torch burning. You may visit to learn more about Camp ARMEN or mail your donation earmarked for Camp ARMEN to Armenian Missionary Association of America, 31 West Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652.

Armenian Missionary Association of America
The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded in 1918, in Worcester, MA, and incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1920 in the State of New York. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our purpose is to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere, both at home and overseas. To fulfill this worldwide mission, we maintain a range of educational, evangelistic, relief, social service, church and child care ministries in 24 countries around the world.

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