By Nooneh Gasparian
Sunday–August 25–2001. Just another Sunday? Perhaps for most of Glendale–but not for Ararat scouts. Yellow school buses–dust creepy crawlers and camping gear galore…it was that time of year again. The week ahead would be a trying one–as 254 scouts would make Mataguay Boy Scouts Reservation their home for one week. Months of planning and hours of dedication have been put into this camp. A seed had been planted with one week to grow. Did Ararat have what it takes?
The days went by sooner than one would think. The scouts maintained the cleanliness of their home with the enforcement of "barad" each day–where each troop–tent–and campground would be inspected and points awarded for the best overall troop. Troops also competed against one another all day–during sport competitions such as water polo–volleyball–and konce. Such healthy competition encouraged each scout to present their best each day and led way for teamwork to shine. Many troops also showed their spirit by displaying their team colors with creativity using–their troop’s colored cup’s–T-shirts–sweaters–visors–bags–hats–and even personalized "dog tags."
Not all was fun and games. Each scout sat through a daily dose of knowledge as different lectures and presentations were given by present and former leaders. Topics covered varied from the current political and economic structure of Armenia–to the organizational structure of Homenetmen. Scouts were also educated on anatomy–dance–and geography. The lectures were not limited to the scouts. Patrol leaders and scout masters discussed topics concerning building and improving relationships with parents to brainstorming on how to improve the quality of scout’s activities.
So much to do–so little time? True–it was often the worry of the scoutmaster in charge–but a strong commitment to the camp’s goals and the willingness and cooperation of everyone involved–made each day somewhat a smooth flight–despite the occasional turbulence. Free time was hard to find for those in charge of an activity or group–but there was plenty to keep each young scout busy. Activities included canoeing–rifle shooting–archery–swimming or visiting the trading post for a relaxing cool soda and treat. And if one felt too exhausted to bother with any of these–they could use the two hours to catch up on lost sleep–or scrub the dirt off by a nice lukewarm shower (if you were lucky)! The days were filled with song provided for by our very own beloved DJ–who brightened the day with music by Armenian talents such as Harout and Tata. He also put a smile on a few lucky faces with dedications–and gave away prizes for those who were quick to solve the daily riddles.
Nevertheless–what is camp without a rally? Hours of preparation were put into the event by the leaders and the result was a fun day of competition amongst the troops. To become the rally champion–each troop had to accomplish a task at one of eleven stations and answer a packet of questions. The station required teamwork–spirit–skill–and varied in areas of expertise. The activities ranged from mountain biking–solving riddles–putting up a tent in silence as fast as one could–and transferring water with a container full of holes–just to name a few.
Scouts were also given the opportunity to earn merit badges.
Classes were offered and the scouts signed up for various subjects–including–canoeing–pioneering–cooking–and first aid. Scouts were presented with the information in the morning and then tested on these skills. Each scout was then rewarded the corresponding badge as redemption of their hard work. This was a good opportunity for those engaged in badge collecting to add one more to their uniform–as well as help those who did not have any get an encouraging start.
All this hard work called for celebration. The annual dance on Thursday night was a big success with shoorjbars–and bits and pieces of trance and Latin beats. This gave everyone a hive for dancing and pure entertainment for those who chose to view from the sidelines.
Camp was also a place to strengthen our weakness–and accomplish that which we did not think possible. One "Geragouyn" member recalled never having done an arts and crafts project as an Ari. At camp–he was not only given the responsibility of not only planning a project but also carrying it out. Some troops were able to overcome previous obstacles and bond with others–forming new friendships that may not have occurred during a normal scouting Sunday. On a larger scale–one of the biggest accomplishmen’s was how well our campfires went. Many nights were spent–practicing the various national–cultural–scouting–and camping songs and cheers. The result was a wonderful campfire–in which everyone was overwhelmed by how well the songs sounded and the enthusiasm of all the scouts singing. Former scout–Ari–remembered for his dedication–and especially for his accordion–made a return one night–and accompanied the songs with melody–encouraging the scouting spirit to shine.
Upon the end of the week–it would be ambiguous to say that this had been like other years.
The scout that had step foot at Mataguay on Sunday would be one that had grown as a person during the last week–and now carried a bundle of unforgettable experiences and memories.
During the span of one week–obstacles were overcome–lessons learned–competitions won and lost–friendships formed–and a team of leaders united. Individuals shined–bonds were strengthened–troops spirited–and leaders emerged. The seed planted a week ago–had indeed blossomed.
"Bartzratseer–Bartzratseer," is the Homenetmen motto–and Ararat scouts will continue to do so–shining all along.