Camp Ararat’s full return was hosted in beautiful Muskoka from August 20-26, under the auspices of His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Canada. This new campsite was a true blessing able to accommodate our growing number and offering our campers a more extensive camp experience with beautiful amenities, activities, and nutrition.

Once again, the Camp Ararat grew to welcome 250 participants with campers joining their Armenian friends from across Canada from as far as Vancouver, Regina, Laval, Ottawa, St Catherine’s and as close as Orillia.

This nineteenth year of camp was again elevated by a dedicated leadership team that ensured that the camp experience is a balance of Armenian cultural discovery as well as fun, friendship, and nature. Our heritage program included discussions around our faith and presentations prepared by our dedicated counsellors on topics such as Georgetown Boys, Armenian Architecture, Armenian Youth Programs to comparisons of Indigenous and Armenians history.

Rev Father Hrant Manukyan, of Saint Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church of Hamilton, returned as our dedicated camp Clergy, guiding us in our faith, relationship with God, family, and respect for self and one another.

Each year of camp we see a bigger blend of newly arrived Armenians, and second or third generation Armenian-Canadians coming together. It is a true pleasure to witness these youth compare their pride of identity and culture while discovering their small differences in dialect and expressions. In this welcoming environment our youth skillfully embrace and combine those differences only to strengthen their purpose in maintaining their Armenian culture further.

This year camper groups were named after historical Armenian monasteries which they explored as a group. Further, campers had the opportunity to realize the importance of Armenian jewelry and fashioned their own bracelets as a keepsake. Each year more and more campers come with a rich repertoire of schoorch bar skills and are given several opportunities to share that talent with those who might just be discovering that aspect of their heritage. Younger campers, Pokr Masis, Medz Masis and Arakadz also had the opportunity to grapple with our language and alphabet in a sense of cooperation and in helping one another. On the other hand, our oldest campers, Artzagh, enjoyed in their unique Challenge games and activities one of which was delighting us in creating their own designed and delectable Gata.

Our days began with morning exercises beginning promptly at 7:15 am, to warm us up for a packed day of discovery and physical activity, with us winding down at the beachfront and finally cabins between 9:30 and 11 pm depending on the age group. The impressive waterfront at Camp Tamarack was overseen closely with 14 Lifeguards on the docks watching and following canoers and paddlers. On the first day at the water each guest had to pass a two-step swim test to be allowed in the water without a lifejacket which was not an issue since some chose to stay dry playing tennis, pickleball, basketball, soccer or simply build sand sculptures. After some free time and dinner, the entire camp gathered once again for all encompassing activities such as, Armenian Jeopardy, Scavenger hunt, CIT Olympics and ending our days with campfire discussions when possible. Camps’ finale on Friday closed with a showcase of Armenian Talent that shook the hall and later led us to a moonlit outdoor dance under the stars with Armenian and local music for all tastes.

This years’ CIT program was overwhelmed with applicants, and through the grace of many we were able to cut down the size to double what it was in the past with 42 participants divided into two groups CIT1 and returning CIT2. They work with experienced staff who train them on how to be a great leader in their communities and a great counsellor at Camp Ararat. Team building, cooperation and role-playing activities are well incorporated into the program. CIT2 also had the opportunity to develop their wilderness and survival skills with close supervision.

Every year, Camp Ararat is blessed with a great team of carefully selected counsellors from across Canada. Each year, there are several returning counsellors along with more who want to be part of the Camp Ararat family for the first time. After a thorough application process all counsellors accepting a position are expected to attend three training sessions along with a CPR/First Aid certifications session covered by Camp.

We are proud that the Armenian Youth have an opportunity to gather in an environment such as the Camp Ararat Summer Youth mission run by the Armenian Diocese of Canada as they represent our best and glorious future.