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Announcements, Happening on Summer Street

AYF Camp Haiastan unveils significant updates to facilities

FRANKLIN, Mass.—Over the past year, AYF Camp Haiastan has undergone significant reconstruction and upgrades to its facilities. “While we consistently maintain and recondition the buildings and grounds during each off-season, this past year we accomplished an unprecedented number of renovations,” stated the camp’s Executive Director Kenar Charchaflian. “We are fortunate and grateful that two long-time members of our camp family, John Mangassarian of Rhode Island and Michael Guzelian of Massachusetts, collaborate weekly with our Facilities Manager John Miller to lead this tremendous effort throughout the off-season, including the winter months. Additionally, we have held three successful volunteer work sessions since last year. We appreciate everyone who contributed to maintaining the exceptional quality of our infrastructure.”

AYF Camp Haiastan Health Center

The Health Center, originally built in the late 1970s, underwent a much-needed renovation thanks to a generous donation from the Apelian family of Massachusetts. The refurbishment of the two-story structure included an overhaul of the HVAC system, a complete renewal of the bathroom, exterior and interior painting, siding repairs and upgraded cabinetry.

After the new Shower Building was constructed in 2017, the original building was repurposed as a staff lounge on one side and a laundry room on the other. However, the hot summers and poor ventilation rendered the staff lounge unusable. This off-season, an HVAC unit donated by the Guzelian family of Massachusetts was installed. “The lounge had become a storage space for our staff rather than serving its intended purpose,” commented Charchaflian. The addition of air conditioning has now made the building fully functional.

Cabin Circle at AYF Camp Haiastan

Last summer, the camp honored the memory of Regina Najarian, a beloved camper, staff member and parent, by dedicating the major renovation of the Camp Circle to her. In her memory, her family generously donated funds for the aeration and seeding necessary to prepare the Cabin Circle for the upcoming 2024 camping season. The camp is committed to maintaining improvements from the previous summer’s refurbishment, ensuring the circle’s utility and aesthetic appeal.

Furthermore, volunteers painted the steps of all the cabins in the circle and replaced windows and fans that needed updating. Renovations took place in the pool area, including the construction of a shed to safeguard the filtering system. A new shower tower was installed on the pool decking, made possible by a generous donation from the Toufayan family of New Jersey.

Lifeguard chair at Uncas Pond

Sid, an Eagle Scout from Troop 126 in Franklin, led by our own John Miller, constructed new lifeguard chairs for both the pool and Uncas Pond. His fellow Eagle Scout Caleb implemented erosion-controlled measures at the shower facilities. Over the years, several Eagle Scout candidates from Troop 126 have undertaken Service Projects at AYF Camp Haiastan.

The newly-painted basketball courts

One improvement that campers will appreciate in particular is the seal coating and painting of the basketball courts, which are not only used for basketball but also for various social, athletic and educational activities. We made a decision to paint the courts to give them a vibrant look as you enter camp. “You can’t miss it!” notes Charchaflian.

The railings of the newly-reconstructed Under the Trees bench area received a fresh coat of paint. Brick pads were laid beneath the nearby metallic swings, and the area was reseeded. Additionally, shelves were installed in the Arts & Crafts cabin, and the exterior walls of the Summer Office underwent renovation.

Dickran Tzamhour Hall

The reconstruction and renovation efforts extended beyond the “lower camp.” The floor of the Dickran Tzamhour Hall, a central indoor space utilized for various activities and the primary interior area for the Day Camp, underwent repairs. Furthermore, a new water heater was installed to replace the old one.

The outdoor kitchen area, situated adjacent to the hall, underwent substantial upgrades. This included the installation of a new BBQ pit and water heater. The Providence ARF generously funded the acquisition of new fans for the pit. Additionally, all picnic benches in need of repair were successfully restored. We look forward to welcoming the greater community this summer for our three summer picnics, taking place on June 23, July 7 and July 21.

Upon arrival at the camp, visitors will immediately notice a new fence spanning the length of the property at the entrance of Summer Street. The Upper Office also underwent significant refurbishment, including adding a new skirt, painting trims, sealing cedar shingles, installing new back stairs and repairing the main shed roof.

The Caretaker House, located at the camp entrance, had not seen interior renovations in many years. The bathroom was completely renovated, and the electrical and HVAC systems were upgraded. A new boiler was also installed.

The volunteers and caretakers of the camp may not attend sessions in the summer, but their presence is seen and felt the entire off-season when they come to camp with energy and determination to refresh, improve and prepare the camp for the next season. “We need to look at a hundred and one small things for every major renovation, like the new Under the Trees we did last year. The Camp Board of Directors is extremely thankful to our volunteers and staff for keeping all the small things looking as good as the new things,” noted Michael Bahtiarian, director and infrastructure chair.

This article was original published on The Armenian Weekly.

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