Can a ealthy lifestyle and extreme excursions replace the “culture of eating barbecue”?
Recently everyone in Armenia says the youth are passive and the Internet is the only thing on their minds. tried to find out whether this was true or not. What do youth do on their free time besides going on the Internet? What extreme and unusual things do they do to change their ordinary lives a little? It’s no secret that sports, walking and active leisure are the main components for a healthy lifestyle. If we add the beautiful nature and historical and cultural sites of Armenia, we can say the excursions organized every now and then are pleasant and useful at the same time. Today, there are many organizations in Armenia that offer different excursions in Armenia and abroad for the youth, their parents, friends and simply those who wish to participate in excursions. All you need is the desire and some money to have unforgettable moments and memories. “It’s a pleasure for me to see youth who had the dream of seeing Tatev or Shakeh Waterfall have the opportunity to see their wish come true,” Director of Activities for Students at the International Center for Science and Education of the RA National Academy of Sciences David Grigoryan mentions. David, who is a journalist by profession, came up with the idea of organizing excursions in 2005 when he became the head of the “David Hambardzumyan” Student Council. Excursions to sites worth seeing have initially been a unique form of leisure and not a way of earning money. “The weekend after a long week is the best time to relax and get back to work the next week,” David mentions. Director of the Club for Extreme Sports and Tourism in Armenia Gor Hovhannisyan mentions that his club was founded in 2002 and spent several years simply studying Armenia’s opportunities and what can be done. “In the beginning, we gained knowledge, applied that knowledge and then started becoming more active. We treat our excursions very seriously. First, it is a great philosophy and ideology, and secondly, it is an event that is a little dangerous.” People participating in excursions must be ready for anything and must have the accessories, including a sleeping bag, ropes, flashlights and defensive measures. The only thing Armenians pay for is the ticket for transportation. “We take a surplus to spend the night when we have to get food or clothes. Foreigners pay a little more.” In the beginning, there were not too many people participating in the excursions. David Grigoryan mentions that the club members would only see Master’s students from the National Academy of Sciences, but now their friends and relatives also join them. Head of the Extreme Club Gor Hovhannisyan says there were few members in the beginning, but more and more people joined the club through Facebook. Today, out of the club’s 7,000 Facebook members, at least 3,000 join the extreme excursions. “We have a “group of crazy participants” who would gladly travel to any corner of the world. The main group is joined by people who would like to come again,” Gor says. There is no age limit, and it depends on how physically ready person is and whether he or she wants to join. The excursions are open to all participants ranging from the age of 14 to 78. There was a time when a 92-year old famous cave explorer-tourist joined the participants as they went into Mozrov Cave. There are different kinds of excursions, including historical-cognitive, mountain climbing, cave investigations, rock climbing, jumping with parachutes, strike ball and paint ball. There are also courses that last from one week to a month at the camps. “We might go to a place without any food for a week and try to find food like fish or crabs. It depends on where we go,” says Gor Hovhannisyan. “I’m very happy that the youth play other games like lotto or intellectual games besides “Mafia” or debate over different topics. The main members of the club in Yerevan are also busy and don’t miss out on any play, exhibition, concert or any other cultural event,” says David Grigoryan, proudly. It’s no secret that citizens prefer comfort more and aren’t too attracted by extreme excursions. Recently Armenians living in the provinces have become active as well. Unfortunately, most of the youth in the provinces are only interested in eating barbecue, going to parties, having expensive cars and killing time,” says Gor. Groups of tourists often prefer extreme excursions because they are tired of the expensive and ineffective tours. “We’re used to seeing Armenia in a tour bus, but when you step out of the bus and walk at least two kilometers into the forests, that’s when you feel proud to live in this country,” says Gor. Armenians join the tourists, improve their language skills, get acquainted with the foreign cultures and present the Armenian culture to the tourists. “Fortunately, the people who come with us have always kept the honor of Armenians high. Most tourists say the youth in Armenia are better than the youth in their respective countries.” What’s also interesting is the fact that boys have become less interested in excursions, while girls have become more interested. “Unfortunately, the tables have turned. Our experience shows that girls are more flexible and are able to get over their complexes. Of course, it’s not bad to see courageous girls, but Armenia needs stronger and braver defenders,” says the extreme club’s founder. Which places do the youth prefer the most? David Grigoryan mentions that in the spring, the youth prefer Tatev Monastery, the newly built bridge in Khndzoresk, Karahunj, Shakeh Waterfall, Artsakh, Western Armenia and the north of Armenia, including Aparan, Vanadzor, Dsegh, Haghpat and Sanahin. Gor Hovhannisyan adds that active skiing in Tsakhkadzor has turned into a tradition in the winter, while trips to Syunik, Artsakh and Lastiver in the summer are in demand as places for seeing forests, caves and waterfalls. As for the extreme, the youth prefer the Bear Cave and Mount Aragats. The club also takes small groups outside of Armenia. In any case, the excursions abroad aren’t too suitable. “Last fall, we climbed the Himalayas, Nepal, India and Tibet with 20-25 people. This year we’re preparing to head toward Thailand to dive in the waters at the coast of the ocean,” says Gor. Summing up, let us mention that people who forget about their daily problems and spend a lot of time in nature give their advice: “Live each day in a way to make it memorable”. P.S.: The excursions sometimes serve as a “marriage bureau” where hundreds of participants find their soul mates and get married. As they say, in healthy body a healthy spirit. Astghik Melik-Karamyan