The Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, under the auspices of the Primate, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, is pleased to report that, on April 27, 2017, the Fresno County Department of Public Works and Planning Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the development of significant improvements to the Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian Camp facilities in Dunlap, California. The first phase of improvements includes a Chapel and Retreat Center which includes an Armenian-style dome over the altar; a 2,186-square foot multi-purpose assembly area; a clergy office/vestment storage area; a Camp Office with ancillary improvements (e.g. restrooms and storage space); and almost 1000 square feet of exterior deck. The Chapel altar will be dedicated in memory of the late Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian.
In planning since 2013, Archbishop Derderian, in collaboration with the Camp Chapel Committee consisting of community members, clergy, and representatives of the Western Diocese Camp Board with input from the Camp Program Committee, have been working with Robert Simonian of Sobin-Harte Architects, Inc. The Chapel committee has focused on designing the Chapel and attached Retreat Center to best serve the needs of the Diocese’s Hye Camp summer program and year-round Diocesan guests. The multi-purpose room of the Chapel complex will allow campers to assemble for Badarak (Divine Liturgy) and will offer opportunities to teach classes with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment for more interactive learning. As part of the planning process, the Committee updated the camp’s 30-year-old siteplan, originally designed by architect Ara Movesian, paving the way for many long-term upgrade projects.
Additional projects on the horizon are improvements to the clergy residence (“Srpazan’s Cabin”) and two existing staff houses; the replacement of two duplexes with a new multi-room staff building, and the addition of two new camper cabins. With the addition of two new camper cabins, the Hye Camp program can expand capacity by over 100 campers annually. His Beatitude the late Patriarch Manoogian initiated the first camp program in 1964, when 32 participants participated. Today, the Western Diocese Hye Camp program serves nearly 650 participants annually, from throughout the western United States, during summer for four weeks.
It is one of the strongest youth programs offered by the Diocese. The year 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the purchase of the Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian Camp. The Diocese is reaching out to the entire Armenian community throughout the Western United States to help make the renovation and upgrade plans a reality. The estimated cost of the entire 5-year renovation plan is $2.5 million; Phase 1, which includes the Chapel/Retreat Center and 2 cabins, are estimated to cost approximately $1.3 million. Phase 1 is scheduled to break ground in spring 2018.
To kick off the start of this exciting phase of the future of the camp facility, the Western Diocese, under the auspices of His Eminence, is announcing the E.P.I.C. (Exciting Possibilities Improving Camp) fundraising campaign, and the E.P.I.C. event on September 30, 2017. This will be a three-location event, held simultaneously at St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church of Van Nuys, St. Paul Armenian Apostolic Church of Fresno, and St. John Armenian Apostolic Church of San Francisco. The event locations will have food, drinks, entertainment, auction of camp items, and special guests.
The hundreds of camp alumnae along with the public at large are invited to come and support this “EPIC” event. More information on how to register for the event and to donate to this important project can be found at https://www.hyecamp.com/epic, by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling (626) 888-EPIC.