Girls and Boys in California and Armenia Develop their Leadership Skills
Summer 2014 proved to be an eventful season for AGBU Scouts from California to Armenia, where over 300 young Armenians learned valuable skills that will serve them well as they grow.
Glendale-Pasadena Scouting Program
For a full week, more than 100 AGBU scouts ages 6 to 17 took part in the Glendale-Pasadena Scouting Program. Together they enjoyed hiking, swimming, learning about their Armenian heritage, and putting to use the leadership and scouting skills they had developed throughout the year.
Twenty energetic former scouts and scout leaders were present not just as supervisors, but as mentors prepared to pass down the scouting traditions that shaped their childhoods. With a new total of 26 leaders, the program set a new record for itself. The advancement ceremony took place during the troop’s annual camping trip at Camp Nawakawa in Angelus Oaks, California.
Each and every scout received badges and ranks for reaching their scouting goals. Katrina Gumushian,17, received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor in girl scouting. During the rest of the year, the Glendale-Pasadena Scouts includes 150 youth and meets weekly at the local AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Center where they organize various community service, educational and pioneering excursions.
AYA San Fernando Valley Scouts
Further north in California, the AYA San Fernando Valley Scouts was also holding a program designed to instill pride in Armenian youth. This year, a Boy Scouts Court of Honor promoted six young men to Eagle rank—the highest Boy Scout recognition: Shant Andrikian, Jojo Armani, Shahe Cooper, Andrew Isagulyan, Aren Rostamian and Eric Vartanian. More than 150 attendees attended the ceremony, including representatives from the local Boy Scouts of America council.
The troop also held its annual camping trip with the participation of 50 youth ages 7 to 23 from all scouting ranks. The scouts participated in hiking, swimming and handcraft activities as well as wilderness survival.
During the highlight of the trip—the bonfire night—over 120 parents and supporters enjoyed creative skits performed by the campers, and witnessed the awarding of merit badges and ranks to scouts who worked hard all year long. The evening’s special guest was Western District Committee chair Krekor Karaguezian, himself a former AGBU scout; he was bestowed with the title of honorary leader within the AYA San Fernando Valley Scouts. Established in 1985, the troop currently includes 70 boy and girl scouts ranging in age from five to 23.
Antranik Scout Camp
In Armenia’s Lori region, a similar scouting fun was had at Antranik Scout Camp, where over 220 AGBU boy and girl scouts from every rank gathered this year for the seventh consecutive year. Youth from AGBU chapters in Lebanon, Syria (Aleppo, Damascus and Kamishli, as well as Syrian Armenians currently seeking refuge in Armenia) and the United Arab Emirates joined their peers from Yerevan. Also participating was the AGBU-associated scouting group, Hayartoun Youth Organization from Tbilisi.
The scouts engaged in a host of activities: morning exercises, hiking, skill-building, competitions, sightseeing and more, all of which created strong ties among AGBU scouts everywhere. But just being on Armenian soil was particularly special to many of the scouts. This was true for Avedis-Nareg Dakessian, a 16-year-old boy scout from Beirut: “When we arrived at the campsite, I was overcome with happiness and pride. The power of the land had such a great effect on me. The experience of being on a campsite in Armenia is different, especially on the beautiful fields in Lori. Those fourteen wonderful days went by so quickly and made an indelible impression on my heart and soul. They gave me a reason to come back to Armenia again and again!”
As always, the culmination of each session was the traditional bonfire, which attracted 450 family members and supporters. Audiences applauded heartily during the scouting skits and cultural songs and dances prepared by all the scouts. The campgrounds are not only open for the annual camp; the Yerevan scouts often organize retreats and special weekends to take advantage of the picturesque location and reinforce every scout’s passion for adventure.
For more information on AGBU Scouts, please visit www.agbu.org/program/scouts
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org