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AGBU SCOUT CAMP "ANTRANIK" Goodbye Lermontovo…

Goodbye Lermontovo…

The tents fixed a day before in the beautiful and woody nature of Lermontovo, 130km north from Yerevan, in the picturesque region of Gugark, 1700 meters above sea level, were a surprise for the scouts that arrived to Armenia from Aleppo, Damascus, Kamishli and Tehran on July 21, 22. Among the participants of the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s “Antranig” camp were the Union’s Tehran, Damascus, Aleppo, Kamishli, Baghdad, and Lebanon (Antranig Antilias, Antranig Sevan, and Antranig Zahle) branches with correspondingly 48, 20, 55, 18, 20, 25, 22 and 5 scouts, as well as the newly established group of 15 scouts from Armenia. For months the planning and organization of the camp was coordinated by AGBU Central Board member Vasken Yacoubian. Kevork Santourian, Head of the Lebanon AYA, was assigned as General Responsible for the scout camp, who was greatly supported by Coordinator of AGBU’s Diaspora Youth Programs in Armenia Hermine Duzian. Works connected with the establishment and construction of the camp, as well as coordination of the project with the local authorities was carried out by the whole staff of the AGBU Armenian Representation under the direction of Ashot Ghazarian, Director of the AGBU Armenian Representation. The newly established AGBU scout group of Armenia also voluntarily and with great devotion participated in the organization of the campsite. During AGBU President Berge Setrakian’s visit to Armenia in the fall of 2007 it was decided to organize joint scout camps in Armenia. The site, which was a rough and uneven area in May 2008 without any conveniences, was changed in a very short period to become a beautiful campsite. Land leveling, water pipes, sewage and electricity installation, and all the works connected with the construction of substructures were under everyday control of the AGBU Armenian Representation. The bathrooms, the kitchen, the administrative office and the small security cabins were transported to the campsite from Aleppo. Specialists and workers of Syrian “Attar” company worked day and night for a whole month to install these constructions. Double-layer tents donated by AGBU Central Board member Vasken Yacoubian reached Lermontovo from China, making the campsite even more beautiful. Pallets used for transportation of goods were used to raise the tents from the sodden earth. AYA Lebanon Central Board had made a 70,000 USD donation for the successful accomplishment of the camp. Everything was ready to welcome the scouts arriving to Armenia. Thus, July 24 was a historical day for the AGBU-AYA scout movement’s chronicles. General responsible of the scout camp Kevork Santourian’s excitement had no boundaries. The atmosphere was truly unprecedented and full of enthusiasm and excitement. This was the first scout camp organized on Mother Land, since the establishment of the Union’s scout movement back in 1940’s. The flags of the Republic of Armenia, the AGBU-AYA and the countries represented in the camp were erected in the center of the campsite. Truly, how many generations and scout-leaders had dreamt of fixing tents, tying up masts, raising flags, screaming and parading on the land of their ancestors. The souls of Hintlian, Minas and Vahan Cheraz, Krisian, founders of the Armenian scout movement, and other late patriotic AGBU-AYA scout leaders like Apkarian, Daredeymezian, Demirdjian, and Krkasharian, were truly very happy and excited that day. The opening ceremony of the camp that took place on July 24 was attended by Lori Governor Aram Kocharian, Primate of the Gugark Diocese Bishop Sepouh Chuldjian, Grand Sacristan of the Holy See of St. Etchmiadzin Bishop Ararat Galtakchian, Chairman of the RA Government’s Humanitarian Aid Committee Simon Ter-Simonian, Director of the RA Social Investments Fund Ashot Kirakossian, AGBU Armenian Representation Director Ashot Ghazarian, local officials from Lori and media representatives. The opening ceremony started with the marching of the scouts and the raising of the flag, after which an opening speech was made by Head of AYA Lebanon Kevork Santourian. After describing the first scout camp on the Mother land as historical, he thanked AGBU President Berge Setrakian, the AGBU Central Board, the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the Holy See of St. Etchmiadzin, and all those who contributed to the success of the camp. The lasting foggy weather, the occasional rains and cloudy sky did not destroy the warm atmosphere of the camp. The useful conversations, scout games, hikings, sightseeing trips to the historical-cultural places and monuments of Armenia provided great opportunities to learn a lot about homeland. For Nairi Batouzian from Lebanon the camp was also an opportunity to visit the historical churches and monasteries of Armenia, as she believed that “The Armenian Church has helped us to survive in the difficult times of our history”. For Lernik Isayan from Tehran the camp was pleasant because as she said, “It gave a chance to scouts from different countries to get acquainted and build strong ties with each other”. All the scouts express their gratitude to AGBU for organizing the camp in Armenia. Friendly evenings with famous singers Shushan Petrossian and Arsen Grikorian, who presented their patriotic folk songs, gave unforgettable moments to the scouts that lasted until late at night. The camp was also a chance for the scouts from different branches to get acquainted with each other. The scouts at AGBU Camp Antranig were visited by AGBU Nork Children’s Center, graduates of the AGBU Marie Manoogian School of Argentina, young Diasporan boys and girls from different countries of the world, who were in Armenia in that period with the framework of Discover Armenia AGBU project, who spent a beautiful evening of communication at the camp on August 20. The endless row of music and dance ended with the following song: Who can sail a vessel Without a wind? Who can leave a friend Without a tear? I can sail a vessel Without a wind, But I can’t leave a friend Without a tear. The two fire ceremonies that took place on August 3 and August 20 were a perfect occasion to demonstrate scout skills and artistic talents. Hranush Hagopian, Chairman of the RA MFA Diaspora Relations State Committee, and Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Central Board member, were given the honor of lighting the fire during the first fire ceremony. Many guests from Yerevan and different communities of Diaspora were present at the fire ceremony. Thos present gave a lasting applause to the scouts for their games, songs, dances, recitals, and the video screening of a short film presenting the everyday life of the camp. During the second fire ceremony the fire was lighted by Bishop Sepouh Chuldjian, Primate of the Gugark Diocese. This ceremony also passed in a very warm and friendly atmosphere with a beautiful program prepared and presented by the scouts. The first camp of AGBU in homeland is already a history. The camp also gave a boost to the talks about the newly-born scout movement in Armenia raising the interest towards both the scout movement and the AGBU activities in Armenia. The uniforms of our scouts were a pleasant surprise for the bypassers in the streets of Yerevan and Vanadzor. The campsite, which is the private property of AGBU, will be the destination for the next generations year after year, whose scout spirit of nobility, devotion and eagerness to serve will be raised by the magnetism of their homeland. Hovig Eordekian