Every year, in early September, the scouting division of Homenetmen Glendale Ararat chapter in Los Angeles organizes a three day Family campout at the golden fields of Camp Tecuya in Frazier Park, around one hour north of Glendale, where Ararat chapter and a good majority of its members are located.
In addition to relaunching the camping for the first time in the post covid era, this year the organizers were also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the occasion. As a result, much passion and planning was put through the program and by the end of the final day, it seemed obvious that many participants were delighted to have spent their Labor Day weekend, camping with close to 300 other attendees.
The three day event was packed with different activities such as archery, rock climbing, science experiments, campfire, art and craft and swimming, but for me the most significant part of the event was the emotional presence of Arick Gevorgian with his musical instruments and unbreakable voice, whom I feared not to ever see again perform after the tragedy that hit his family earlier this year. Beside Arik’s heartwarming presence I also enjoyed the teaching and performance of the Ararat Dance Group on the second day, which was not only a session to embrace our folklore, but an opportunity to learn several subtle details about our rich culture and the motives behind the choreographed moves of our graceful dancers. It occurred to me that the passionate participation of many campers encouraged the dance instructor to extend his teachings beyond the regular time, and it surely inspired me to grab my camera and take several shots of this unique experience.
Overall, the occasion was another opportunity for me to appreciate social life in LA despite my constant bickering about the superficiality of life here on certain grounds. The three day intense socializing bootcamp is also a good reminder that spending time in nature with friends and fellow Armenians does good to your children, while as older scouts, we should also feel fortunate, to have a dedicated vast natural space for our children to explore the wilderness and find new friends; Friends whose parents you possibly know and can trust…
In my mind, I once again thanked Hagop Karapents for being a founding father of Ararat back in Tehran, which has eventually led to my children meet other Armenian kids, almost eight decades later in America and I wished that more of my friends would take part in this unique adventure in future.
Beside all the fun in the campground, a little incident stuck with me that I’d like to share here; Each family had a tent tag with their surnames on it, (To perhaps help resident recognition) and so on the second day, a gentleman, probably in his mid 50’s, approached me from the neighboring tent, pointed to the tag on the tent and asked if I had anything to do with the Sarvarian school. I explained that the school belonged to my grandparents and that the principal Leonid is my uncle. The names apparently transformed him into his childhood years, where he was a Sarvarian school student, as he emotionally recounted memories of my family members being instrumental in his cultural growth and Armenian upbringing.
Ever since I’ve known myself, it has been a routine for me to come across random faces asking me about my connection to Sarvarian school and most of these instances usually lead to a heartfelt conversation about the dedicated work and impact of my family members on the approaching person. Over the years, this reoccurring theme, has made me believe, that if one is fully invested at education and truly believes in the positive impact of their work, then their efforts will go far and beyond their life time and will be remembered and appreciated by some of their pupils if not all of them. In the same manner, I feel the people who wholeheartedly dedicated their time and energy to my kids in all educational levels, including this three day camp, have something to feel good about, as this, just as well, is following the footsteps of our previous generations of educators, scouts and teachers, all of whom believed in the powerful impact of education through enriching our children’s lives with art, activities and Armenian culture.
My hope is that this will be a reoccurring habit for the coming generations as well.
And finally below are some photos of our wonderful campout in Tecuya in September of 2022.