Camp Javakhk: Bachig Battlefield
It didn’t click until our first flag raising at camp in Dzalka, a village on the path most commonly traveled by cows and chickens, that my co-counselors and I were about to be responsible for the happiness and education of more than 100 children. From the moment we realized that many of our campers did not know the Armenian national anthem, let alone to read or write in any language, we knew that our time in Dzalka had to be efficient.
We got straight to it, not only teaching “Mer Hayrenik,” but helping the kids to find pride in its words; helping them understand the value of our famous Javakhtsis; teaching them the importance of basic hygiene like washing hands, covering a cough, and brushing their teeth, and the beginnings of the English language, even if it was as simple as “head, shoulders, knees, and toes [not turs], eyes and ears and mouth [not mouse] and nose.”
Camp Javakhk’s first time in Dzalka was quite the experience, not only for us but the children and local volunteers, that truly that cannot be put in to words. To be a part of a program so rare to the Javakhk community was truly amazing. We were able to give the children an experience that, if it weren’t for the AYF and ARS, they would have never had the opportunity to receive.
By the handfuls, we learned their names and about their families, starting from the most charagigi to the most hamov. We went on hikes, rode their horses, and milked their cows, learned about their grandparents who fought for Artsakh’s liberation, about their fathers who have moved to Russia to earn bread for their families, and most importantly about their aspirations for themselves and their communities.
We didn’t realize how much we would be giving the children of Dzalka—a basic education, braiding with lanyards, and using watercolors all while laughing and hungry for more. But the children of Dzalka gave us so much more in return. The memories of being greeted with hugs and kisses, flowers, and dances every morning by the same kids who had worn us to the bones the day before are priceless. Tiresome and draining, the adventures and laughs of an experience so rare will stay with our group forever. Until next year, Bachig Battlefield, we’ll be back for more.
Camp Javakhk is a program of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Inc. that consists of four day camps in the towns of Akhalkalak, Akhaltskha, Ninotsminda, and Dzalka within the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia. These camps are organized and planned by a committee of Armenian youth from the Eastern Region of the United States.
Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Camp Javakhk: Bachig Battlefield