AYF Camp Haiastan Founder’s Day

2024 AYF Camp Haiastan Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day at AYF Camp Haiastan is very important to me. Not only is it a time when we are able to reflect on our past but also to build on our future. This year for Founder’s Day, past Ungers, Ungerouhis, Barons, Digins and board members spoke to us about the ways in which camp left a positive impact on their lives, as well as the camp’s rich history.

Baron Pete Jelalian, Unger Peter Alemian, Unger Michael Guzelian, Unger Mike Bahtiarian and Baron Harry Kushigian took us through a journey on what, when, how and why this camp is what it is today, while also digging deeper into a personalized conversation about our families. This is now the fourth generation of families attending Camp Haiastan, and that will grow for years to come. 

Baron Harry Kushigian, 2024 Summer Director Erik Avagyan, Baron Pete Jelalian and Unger Michael Guzelian on Founder’s Day

The presenters shared photographs of the founders of Camp Haiastan building the camp, which now has years of history and tradition. The pictures showed people cutting down trees and constructing the buildings (both seen and not seen today). There were also photographs depicting deep friendships and a great workplace. Seeing these pictures made me appreciate camp. Without the hard work of these incredible individuals, there wouldn’t be a Camp Haiastan. Being able to connect with the community at one Armenian summer camp is incredible. It is astonishing, yet not surprising, how many lifelong connections and friendships have been made and are still being made. With such a tight-knit community, anything is possible. 

One thing that touched my heart was hearing Baron Peter speak of his time as a camper, as it was eerily similar to my experience. He touched on his experience with homesickness as a first-time camper barely knowing anyone. My first year, I was a camper with current staff members Unger Haig and Unger Levon. As soon as my parents left, I drowned in my own tears. 

Baron Peter went on to tell his story of all the lifelong friendships he made as a camper. This is my 11th year at camp and my fourth on staff. I have made friendships with people I never thought I would make friendships with. He continued to share how he has been involved with camp for many years since being a camper. That is my goal: to leave a long-lasting, positive impact on the camp. 

It’s crazy to see that 73 years of Camp Haiastan have come and gone, with the 74th year of camp currently ongoing. With this crew, we can make it the most memorable summer.  

Alex Vartanian

Alex Vartanian

Alex Vartanian is a junior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in financial technology with a focus in Artificial Intelligence. This is his 11th year at camp and his fourth year on staff. He lives in Oradell, New Jersey, and is a member of the AYF NJ "Arsen" chapter. He is the chair of his AYF Hai Tahd Committee, as well as a member of the AYF Central Athletic Committee.
Alex Vartanian

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