Renovation will feature flexible, hotel-style accommodations, expanded indoor activity center
GLENDALE—For the past 43 years, Camp AREV has been the place where thousands of Armenian youth have found refuge up in the mountains of Frazier Park, Calif. They have had the opportunity to spend time in a safe Christian environment, getting to know the Lord and seek his face for guidance, comfort, self-worth, encouragement, and strength as they meet the daily challenges growing up as a Christian youth.
The Lord has blessed this great ministry of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America. God has been faithful and has answered the prayers of many unselfish and generous spiritual and financial supporters. In the last decade, Camp AREV has expanded to meet the needs of this great ministry through many remodeling projects and construction of additional facilities. Two new dorm style cabins were built in 1999 and were completely remodeled in 2018. Additionally, a new dining hall with indoor and outdoor seating, a worship center and an infirmary were completed in 2010.
The Lord has seen the fruits of this camping ministry, and has answered the many Jabez-like prayers – “oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory” (1 Chronicles 4:10). During the last few years, the Camp committee, under the leadership of Executive Director Rev. Razmig Minassian and Camp AREV Committee Chair George Phillips Jr., have undertaken a major project to further expand and upgrade the camp facilities to meet the ever growing demands of its ministry. With the generous gift from an anonymous donor, a major construction project has begun.
“There is no doubt that God’s presence is felt in a unique and profound way when you are on the mountain top. There is something special when you are at 4500ft elevation. You can sense God’s call, you can feel his presence and enjoy his beautiful creation. I’ve experienced this since I was 15 years old. The formation of the Armenian Christian community through the ministry of Camp AREV has a ripple effect that will impact the next generation of Armenian youth across California and the United States,” says Rev. Razmig Minassian.
Detailed plans had long been in the works, benefactors had committed to support much of the cost, permits and contractors were ready, and volunteers helped with demolition of much of the existing building. As construction work began in July, a ministry team filmed and produced a virtual summer camp program so that returning and first-time campers would not miss out.
The Lodge was used in its original layout for over 40 years. It was the main building on the property when the retreat center was purchased in 1992 by the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America. During the past few years, Camp AREV programs have attracted more Armenian youth than ever before. In 2019, the camp added an extra week of programming to accommodate demand. Camp programs and even the retreat center’s guest group programs increased in popularity while the useful life of the Lodge furnishings and systems were reached, and layout and configuration became outdated.
As part of the camp master plan, the existing Lodge is being completely renovated and almost doubled in size, with 14 separate suites/rooms with their own bathrooms able to accommodate 68 people, while still embedding in the center a gathering space for worship and teaching. An adjoining fellowship center with covered patios measuring almost 2000 sq ft also being constructed will allow guests to enjoy recreational activities with exterior entrances and outdoor casual spaces. The activity room will provide a much-needed, enclosed space for campers and guests to have fellowship, play games, meet in small groups, and create lasting and meaningful relationships.
The new Lodge has been designed for flexibility to offer either dorm-style or hotel-style accommodations, providing an upscale alternative to the current housing. New housing will increase the camp’s occupancy from 150 to 170 beds, which will be ready for guests to enjoy in Spring 2021. The camp is also constructing a 2,100 sq ft, 6 bedroom, 4 bathroom home on site to comfortably accommodate staff during its programming. This will make life much more pleasant for paid and volunteer staff who work so hard to make Camp AREV’s programming the best it can be.
Camp AREV Committee Chair George Phillips, Jr., adds “Many hours have been spent designing the new Lodge and activity spaces and we are very excited about the project and the additional programming opportunities it opens. We have assembled an amazing design and construction team, who love the Lord and the camp. We know that God touches people’s lives during their time at Camp AREV, and are excited to see how God will use these this project for His glory.”
Due to the pandemic, even Camp AREV’s Lower Cabins were closed this summer, but Rev. Minassian reports that the switch to a virtual camp was very well received. Juniors week (3rd-5th graders) had more than 40 registrations, and the combined Junior High / High School week had more than 80. A team of counselors held “break-out” sessions in Zoom rooms, and three Camp AREV alumni were interviewed for a segment called “Victory Circle: Share Your Story.” The virtual format allowed some campers to register from the East Coast as well.
The Camp AREV Lodge renovation and surrounding improvements are progressing on an accelerated schedule. We are excited for what God has planned for this ministry. We as that our community would continue to pray for this unique and effective Armenian Christian ministry. In addition, the Camp AREV Committee is reaching out to donors. If you are interested in making a lead gift, recognition is available. Please contact Camp AREV Committee Chair George Phillips, Jr. for information. No gift is too small. Please support this campaign to improve Camp AREV’s facility for its pan-Armenian ministry, sharing the good news of the gospel and offering week-long and weekend mountain retreat programs for Armenian youth.