Camp Haiastan elects new board members

Published: Tuesday December 08, 2009

Franklin, Mass. - On Saturday, September 19, less than a month after the highly successful completion of the 2009 season at A.Y.F. Camp Haiastan, Head Counselors Alison Amorello and Adam Boyajian travelled to Franklin from their colleges in Boston and Connecticut to share their summer camp season report with the board and executive director. They presented a keen evaluation of the summer's programs and activities along with their recommendations for the next season.

On Saturday, October 17, the Board of Directors reviewed season reports, evaluations, and recommendations from the camp's administration team of Executive Director Roy Callan, Day Camp Director Nevart Mikaelian, Teen Session Camp Director Peter Jelalian, and Sessions 1, 2 and 3 Camp Director Sharon Dardarian.

Nearly entire meetings are devoted to the serious task of reviewing and evaluating each and every function and aspect of Camp Haiastan's 2009 operation from the time that staff report for Staff Training and Orientation in mid-June, through the one week Day Camp in late June, through the four two-week overnight camp sessions that concluded on August 23.

Assuring the health, safety, and welfare of over 360 campers and some 60 staff that come through the gates each summer is no small task and is taken seriously by the board. The fact that Camp Haiastan's enrollments have grown by 30 percent since the 2004 season is a testament to the excellent stewardship provided through dedicated efforts of the board and staff.

A.Y.F. Camp Haiastan opened its doors to the first group of Armenian youngsters in 1951 as the first overnight Armenian cultural children's camp in the United States. The consistent growth of Camp Haiastan as a national and international summer destination for Armenian youngsters seeking to experience a camping program dedicated to the inspiration of pride in their Armenian heritage along with the establishment of lifelong bonds of friendship, the work of the Board of Directors is a year-round commitment.

In October the board nominated and elected its officers for 2010 at the annual meeting of the Camp Haiastan Corporation. Four of the nine Board of Director seats were open for nomination.

The completion of the 2009 season marked the mandated end of six outstanding years of leadership from retiring board members Mark Alashaian of Emerson, N.J., and Richard Krikorian of Old Tappan, N.J. Mark is lauded for his outstanding leadership as board chairperson for four of his six years on the board (2005–2008), while Richard set a new standard for financial stewardship and fiscal responsibility for Camp Haiastan as board treasurer for all six of his years of service to the board.

Incumbents Melissa Simonian and Levon Attarian were reelected along with new members Muriel Parseghian and Michael Gostanian.

Members of the Camp Haiastan Board of Directors by necessity, and sometimes by accident, wear many hats in their service to the camp. It is in this capacity that the 2010 "class" of board members shines most brightly as they are a highly talented, experienced and dedicated group of leaders who thankfully come to the camp as respected members of their Armenian communities as well as accomplished professionals.

"We are proud to profile our 2010 board to give our camp family and friends a thumbnail sketch of the outstanding qualities of each of our board members," a news release from the board read:

Michael Guzelian, chairperson, Needham, Mass. An electrical engineer with General Dynamics Corporation for the past 25 years. Michael is vice president and director of Secure Voice and Data Products Assurance Division. Michael and his wife Susan have two daughters, Taline and Adrineh.

Michael attended Camp Haiastan for many years as a youngster, he was also a counselor for several seasons. Now in his third two-year term as a board member, Michael is beginning his second year as board chairperson, a post that he was unanimously reelected for by his fellow board members. Michael's A.Y.F. membership of many years included a stint on the Central Executive. Michael has served on the Board of the Armenian Youth Foundation since 1992 and has been a member of St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church of Watertown, Mass., his entire life.

Michael Shamlian, vice chairperson, Radnor, Pa. Michael and Karine Shamlian are one of many a couple that found one another while attending Camp Haiastan! When their children Haig and Nishan start their camp careers they will be third-generation campers, Karine's father Haig Alemian was a charter member of the first camper group when Camp Haiastan opened its doors in July 1951.

Michael is a civil engineer and is project manager for real estate development projects for Hill International, Inc., in the Philadelphia area. Michael was a camper for seven seasons and a counselor for three seasons. Prior to joining the board in an advisory capacity in 2007, Michael and Karine dutifully served Camp Haiastan as Philadelphia community liaison for fundraising and camper and staff recruitment.

Along with his expertise in the area of camp facility management, Michael has supercharged Volunteer Work Day events that bring camp alumni and friends together to work on facility and grounds betterment projects for the camp annually. Michael's Philadelphia area Armenian community involvement includes service to A.Y.F. chapter and Olympic Committee, St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Sisters Academy, and Land and Culture Organization summer construction volunteer in Armenia.

Melissa Simonian, clerk/secretary, North Providence, R.I. Melissa is a speech and language pathologist and has worked for many years with Rhode Island youngsters suffering from speech, hearing and language afflictions.

Melissa's involvement in Camp Haiastan goes back to her membership in A.Y.F. Juniors and Seniors in Providence, which provided the spark for her to attend camp and serve on the staff as a counselor for many seasons. Her A.Y.F. membership inspired Melissa to serve in several leadership capacities in her home Providence Varantian A.Y. F. Chapter for many years. As well as her leadership role on the board, Melissa is an active member of the Providence A.R.S. Ani Chapter and has served on the Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, Providence, Sunday School Staff for many years.

Levon Attarian, treasurer, Pawtucket, R.I. For Levon, service to the Armenian community is what consumes his non-working hours. Camp Haiastan, A.Y.F., Homenetmen, and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, Providence, R.I., are all grateful recipients of Levon's volunteerism, hard work and leadership.

Over the last two years Levon has ably assisted outgoing treasurer Richard Krikorian as assistant treasurer. During Levon's term of service to the A.Y.F. Central Executive in 2006, Levon also served the camp as the A.Y.F. C.E. liaison to the camp Board successfully implementing an era of effective coordination between the A.Y.F. Central Executive and Camp Haiastan.

Joshua Tevekelian, Watertown, Mass. Josh is no newcomer to Camp Haiastan by any stretch of the imagination. He has been a six-year camper, a two-year staff member, a four-year Board member (before returning to the Board for the second time in 2007) at which time he served as Board chairperson for two years. Counting correctly, that's well over a dozen years of involvement with Camp Haiastan.

Speaking of counting, Josh is a senior accountant at Colony Realty Partners of Boston when he is not serving his Armenian community. Along with service to Camp Haiastan, Josh has been an active member and leader of Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston, A.Y.F. chapters in Framingham and Watertown, A.R.F., A.N.C.A., Homenetmen and St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church of Watertown, and Big Brothers of Boston for many years. Josh's leadership involvement with organizations serving Armenian youth has proved invaluable to Camp Haiastan.

Nevart Mikaelian, Stoughton, Mass. Nevart and husband Hratch are most proud of their membership in the "I met my spouse at camp" club. Nearly two years ago Nevart and Hratch welcomed baby Zareh Mikaelian into the world of Camp Haiastan as Nevart and Hrach proclaimed baby Zareh at birth destined for camp just like mom and dad!

Nevart is a veteran elementary special education teacher with the Natick, Mass., school system. The Day Camp has been Nevart's main project as a board member and she has done a superb job as the Day Camp director for the past four successful seasons. Nevart's experience doesn't stop at Day Camp as she has served on past camp staffs prior to serving on the board, most notably as camp director and "Oriyort" in 2000 and 2001.

Simoné Topouzian, West Bloomfield, Mich. Simoné has been active in Armenian community service for many years in Detroit along with husband Daron. Both were campers as youngsters, and Simoné later served as a counselor as well.

Simoné and Daron's children, Meliné, Knar, Ani, and Teny have all attended camp. Meliné has followed in Mom's footsteps as a member of the 2008 and 2009 camp staffs. The Topouzians are active members and contributors to their church community at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Dearborn, Mich.

Mimi Parseghian, Lowell, Mass. We are proud to announce that Mimi is one of our two newest elected board members, and the board member with the most years of association with Camp Haiastan. Going back to her childhood, Mimi attended camp many seasons. Mimi was camp director in 1989 and subsequently has served Camp Haiastan as an A.R.S. Liaison to the board numerous times, most recently for the 2008–2009 seasons.

Service to the Armenian community is evident in many forms throughout Mimi's life: A.Y.F. member and Alumna, A.R.F. and A.R.S. memberships. She is a past editor of the Armenian Weekly, and currently serves on the A.R.S. Central Executive Board. A graduate of Northeastern University and the Nishan Palandjian Jemaran (Beirut) Armenology Program, Mimi is the vice president of sales and marketing for the Majilite Corporation, Dracut, Mass.

Michael Gostanian, Middle Village, N.Y. Michael is our second of two newly elected board members for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Also a Camp Haiastan camper in his childhood, Michael served on staff in the 90s as a counselor as well. In 2009 Michael and wife Nouneh were blessed with their first child, Vahan who, according to the proud parents, can't wait to head to Camp Haiastan in 2016.

Michael is project manager with International Business Machines in New York and currently serves his Long Island, N.Y., Armenian community as advisor to the N.Y. "Hyortik" A.Y.F. chapter and is deacon at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Douglaston, N.Y.

Perhaps Michael is most known for his varied musical talents especially Armenian music as Michael is a talented vocalist, kanun player, and bassist. He is fluent in various Armenian dialects and performs songs in various languages with striking realism and character.

Michael began studying his first instrument, the bass, in high school building a strong musical foundation. At this point he also began singing with local Middle Eastern bands. In his college years, he took up the kanun and soon began playing beautiful leads and harmonies to accompany his vocals. Today, Mike is recognized as one of the more versatile performers of his generation.

Over past summers, many a lucky Camp Haiastan camper has danced to the sweet traditional melodies that Michael and his band mates have generously played at many Saturday night dances as their gift to the camp.  

In addition to the board, three individuals are appointed to fill important roles as liaisons to the board from three adjunct organizations, Armenian Relief Society Board of Regional Directors Eastern U.S.A., Armenian Revolutionary Federation Eastern Region Central Committee, and Armenian Youth Federation Eastern U.S. Central Executive. Appointed 2010 Liaisons are Carol Jaffarian, A.R.S., Mark Alashaian, A.R.F. and Lauren DaSilva, A.Y.F.

Beginning his seventh season as Camp Haiastan's full-time year around executive director is Roy Callan. With such a talented group of dedicated members and liaison of the 2010 Camp Haiastan Board of Directors, it's easy to see that the governance of Camp Haiastan is in qualified and experienced hands.

Since the end of the 2009 camping season in late August, the Board and Baron Roy have been hard at work planning for the 2010 season, the 60th in the camp's history.

One of the challenges for the coming season includes a search for the next camp director. Longtime director Peter Jelalian concluded his full-summer duties in 2008 after 16 years as Camp Haiastan's Summer Camp director. In 2009 Pete returned part-time to lead the Teen Session and co-direct with  Sharon Dardarian for Session 1.

In spite of less-than-encouraging national economic conditions, A.Y.F. Camp Haiastan posted one its most successful seasons ever in 2009. The Day Camp and two of four overnight sessions were filled to capacity.

The board is expecting to exceed 2009 enrollment numbers in 2010. Since 2004, that would mark the seventh season in a row that the previous season's enrollment has been eclipsed.

The 2010 overnight camping season kicks off on Sunday June 27, with the popular two-week Teen Session for campers in high school (14 years and completed 9th grade, 15 and 16 year olds) followed by three two-week sessions for 8 to 14 year old campers, ending on Sunday, August 22, 2010 (overnight sessions begin and end on Sundays).

First-time overnight campers eight years to ten years of age can give camp a try for one week at the "Try It Out" session from Sunday August 8 to Sunday August 15, 2010 (parents of one-week campers are encouraged to plan for their campers to stay the second week at a substantial discount). The one-week Day Camp will run from Monday June 28 through Friday July 2, 2010 for five, six and seven year olds. Please visit the camp web site for the most up-to-date information and enrollment instructions.

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