Camp Javakhk: Bachig Battlefield
By U. Carnie Armenian
It didn’t click to me until our first flag raising at camp Dzalka, a village on the path most commonly traveled by cows and chickens, that myself and my co-counselors were about to be responsible for the happiness and education for more than 100 children. From the moment we realized that many of our campers did not know our 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 with not only teaching Mer Hayrenik but helping them find pride in its words, with understanding the value of our famous Javakhtsis, learning the importance of basic hygiene like washing hands, covering a cough, and brushing teeth, 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 surely was quite the experience that cannot be put into 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, but most importantly about their aspirations for themselves and their communities.
We gave the children of Dzalka so much they would have never been exposed to, be it a basic education or braiding with lanyards and using watercolors, but the children of Dzalka gave so much more to us in return. The memories of being greeted with hugs and kisses, flowers and dances every morning by the same kids who just wore us to the bones the day before is 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.