St. Vartan Camp was organized as a project of the ACYOA Seniors in 1979. The one week program was held at AGBU Camp Nubar and included 50 campers its first year. The following year, the late Rev. Fr. Paree Metjian was the director, and St. Vartan Camp was held at the Canterbury School in New Mildford, CT. That year the camp had 68 campers, 8 counselors, and 5 athletic coaches. In 1981, Nancy Basmajian joined the St. Vartan Camp family as Program Director, alongside Rev. Fr. Paree Metjian who continued as camp director. The next year, St. Vartan Camp extended to a two week program!
The final season at the Canterbury School was in 1987. Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian came on board as the Camp Coordinator, working with Rev. Fr. Paree Metjian and Nancy Basmajian with 110 campers and 16 staff. The next year, St. Vartan Camp relocated to Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT to continue its two week program. In addition to Fr. Paree, Fr. Vertanes, and Nancy, came Rev. Fr. Yeprem Kelegian as the Teen Program Coordinator in 1989! Nancy also jump started the Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program this year.
The 90’s began a new decade and in 1991, Barbara Hovsepian served as the director as St. Vartan Camp, while Fr. Paree Metjian continued as the Juniors Coordinator and Fr. Yeprem Kelegian as the Teen Coordinator. In 1992, the two week program continues at Loomis Chaffee School, with Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian serving as director and Barbara Hovsepian as Program Director. The camp population included 143 campers and 19 staff. Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian and Barbara Hovsepian served as co directors in 1993, with Rev. Fr. Paree Metjian as Camp Coordinator for over 145 campers.
St. Vartan Camp moved to Camp Nubar in Andes, NY in 1994. The two week program is directed by Sebouh DerSimonian and the late Rev. Fr. Garen Gdanian serving as Camp Chaplain.
The next year, the camp returned for its seventh and last season to Loomis Chaffee School with Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian as director, and Nancy Basmajian as Program Director to serve over 122 campers and 17 staff.
The next big move took St. Vartan Camp to Marvelwood School, in Kent, CT in 1996. The two week program is directed by Rev. Fr. Vasken Kouzouian along with Nancy Basmajian as Program Director. A few years later in 2000, St. Vartan Camp expands to two – two-week sessions (A, and B) with almost 200 campers. Fr. Vasken Kouzouian serves as director, with Yn. Arpi Kouzouian as Program Director. In 2003, St. Vartan Camp is hosted at Marvelwood School for it’s final season with Yn. Arpi Kouzouian as Director and Christina Buchter as Director of Programming.
The last move was in 2004 when St. Vartan Camp moved to its permanent home at the Ararat Center in Greenville, NY! Yn. Arpi Kouzouian serves as director, with Charis Yousefian as Director of Programming. For the first time, the camp is able to offer stipends to its staff! Yn. Arpi continued her leadership as the camp director in 2005 for her final season.
In 2006, Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian took on the role as Camp Director for sessions A, B and C and partnered with Jennifer Morris, the Diocesan Youth Outreach Coordinator. She served as the camp administrator and CIT Coordinator working with Fr. Krikor for the next seven years. During that time several served as the Camp Office Coordinator including Ann Nahabedian Lydia (Kurkjian) Mantis, Yn. Hasmik Ajamian, Christina Yaikian Gazarov, Maran Bagdassarian and Lorie Odabashian.
In 2011, Rev. Fr. Vasken Kouzouian returned as the Session C Camp Director, with Fr. Krikor remaining the camp director for Sessions A and B. Jennifer continued to serve as the camp administrator and CIT coordinator through the years, and sought out extra support during Session C when she headed to our sister camp in the Midwest, Hye Camp from Yn. Arpi Kouzouian, Gregory Dalakian, Arthur Sabounjian, Kathryn Ashbahian, Lorie Odabashian and Arpi Nakashian.
Fr. Krikor retired as the camp director at the end of the 2013 camp season. In September, the newly developed Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries hired Lorie Odabashian to serve as the coordinator, and Jennifer Morris was appointed the director of the department.
In 2014, two new camp directors were appointed by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, to serve St. Vartan Camp. Rev. Fr. Khatchatur Kesablyan served as the camp director during Session A and Rev. Fr. Vart Gyozalyan served as the camp director during Session B, with Fr. Vasken continuing his leadership as the camp director during Session C.
Kathryn Ashbahian joined the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in 2015 and joined Jennifer and Lorie in year-round planning and camping ministry.
After Lorie left the Diocese to take on a new position closer to home, Kathryn and Jennifer continued to work on developing the Diocesan Summer Camp program.
As we embark upon 2019, we look forward to serving our camp population serving more than 300 youth and young adults across the Eastern Diocese and beyond!