AYF CAMP HAIASTAN HISTORY
ՀԵԴ «Հայաստան» Ճամբարի Պատմական
AYF, ARF, & ARS Work together to purchase the lands in Franklin, MA
In 1939, the newly elected AYF (Tzeghagrons) Central Executive, composed of Berge Aslanian, Harry Sachaklian, Popken Hachikian, Florence Kasparian, James Tashjian, Arthur Edgarian, and Antranik Bagdasarian, was charged with the unanimous decision passed by the delegates to the AYF Annual Convention of establishing “a youth camp by 1940." A Camp Fund was established and a Camp Fund Campaign was begun.
Two key figures in the purchasing of the lands in which AYF Camp Haiastan rests on is due to the work of Franklin resident, Senekerim Apalakian, and employee of the US Forestry Service, Harry Sachaklian.
With Mr. Apalakian working with the local officials in Franklin and Mr. Sachaklian working with the ARF and AYF members, they were successful in convincing everyone involved that this purchase was in the best interests of the Armenian youth in America, as well as the residents of the town of Franklin.
The AYF Central Executive with help from the ARS Eastern Region purchased the approximately 100-acre plot of land in 1940. Buildings on the property included a number of summer cabins near the entrance to the camp and a caretaker’s building and store, where local ARF and AYF chapters held their meetings. The earliest use of the property was for Sunday picnics by local churches and Armenian organizations.
First Armenian Camp in America welcomes campers in 1951
Weekend work sessions were organized by regional AYF chapters to begin clearing the land for a youth camp. AYF Camp Haiastan was built by its founders (Hal and Marty Avedisian, Peter Eknoian, Zaven Najarian, “Red” Bedrosian, and Roseanne Chebookjian). By 1951 the AYF Camp was ready to host its first campers, directed by K. Merton Bozoian, "Uncle Bozo", with a two-week session for boys followed by a two-week session for girls, becoming the first Armenian youth camp in America!
From then on, camp enrollment continued to grow each year along with many physical improvements. Boys and girls attended separate sessions until the mid-1950s when enrollment growth compelled establishing a coed camping season. What began as a regional Armenian camp now serves campers from throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and the Middle East. Over the years we have hosted campers from 26 states and 13 countries and five continents.
AYF Camp Haiastan continues to grow and serve the Armenian youth
While many new amenities have been added over the years (New Arts & Crafts Building (2019), New Staff Lounge & Laundry Room (2019), New Directors Quarters (2018) & New Summer Office (2018), many things have stayed the same. The cozy “Cabin Circle” promotes our Armenian family atmosphere and our weekly dances with live Armenian music and Sunday picnics are all timeless Armenian traditions.
As the flagship facility for the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), the camp serves as a year-round gathering place for Armenian activities such as educational weekends, church picnics, and athletic tournaments.