AYF Camp Haiastan’s Executive Director to visit Toronto on March 24

Kenar Charchaflian present at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto on March 24 and Montreal’s Sourp Hagop Armenian School on March 26

The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Camp Haiastan, the first Armenian camp in the United States, has provided generations of young people with a unique and enriching experience combining education, recreation, and community-building.

To share insights into the camp’s programming, camper registration, logistics, and staffing opportunities ahead of the 2023 summer camp season, Kenar Charchaflian, the camp’s Executive Director, will be visiting Toronto and Montreal to hold information sessions for the Armenian communities. We recently caught up with Charchaflian to learn about the camp’s history and what sets it apart from other summer camps.

“Over the years, AYF Camp Haiastan has grown into a foundational institution within the lives of our Armenian youth,” Charchafliantold Torontohye said in a recent sit-down. Located in Franklin, Massachusetts, AYF Camp Haiastan was established in 1951 as a way for Armenian youth to connect with their culture, history, and heritage in a fun and engaging environment.

The camp strongly focuses on Armenian culture and history, with activities such as dance, music, and language classes, as well as traditional Armenian games and sports. In addition to its cultural focus, AYF Camp Haiastan also offers a wide range of recreational activities, including swimming, boating, hiking, and team sports. The camp’s natural setting provides a beautiful backdrop for these activities.

Charchaflian expressed her excitement to visit the Canadian Armenian communities of Toronto and Montreal. “This visit has been in discussion since my appointment in 2020; however, given the COVID pandemic and international travel and camp restrictions imposed on us, it has taken a few years to make it happen,” she said. “Given that Camp Haiastan was founded when the three North American AYF regions were combined, it was inevitable that the Canadian-Armenian community has been part of our story. I am hopeful that this visit will remind these communities that AYF Camp Haiastan can serve as your summer home, and we have missed the presence of our Canadian neighbors,” she went on.

When asked about campers’ activities at AYF Camp Haiastan, Charchaflian said that Camp Haiastan offers a wide variety of fun and education. “Some examples of our activities are Armenian language, dance, history and culture, and traditional recreational activities, such as swimming, boating, nature walks, arts & crafts, and even have an outdoor low ropes obstacle course,” she explained.

The first session will be held in Toronto on Friday, March 24, at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto (45 Hallcrown Pl, North York, ON M2J 4Y4) at 8 p.m. On Saturday, March 25, Charchaflian will deliver her presentation at the Sourp Hagop Armenian School (3400 Rue Nadon, Montréal, QC H4J 1P6) at 6 p.m.

Regarding her upcoming visit to Toronto, Charchaflian said she is very much looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the community. “I would like to thank the local Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) committee for working with me to make this goal a reality. I can only hope this will be the springboard to ensure our future summers are filled with Canada-hyes!”