The 20th century began with Armenians expressing a great enthusiasm towards sports and scouting.
The political and cultural reawakening Armenians had lived throughout the 19th century along with the establishment of the Ottoman Constitution of 1908 presented the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire with a great opportunity to expand their activities. A new generation of Armenians, well-educated young professionals from European universities, had just returned to Constantinople to find a more favorable environment for spreading new ideas. They were dedicated to the education and development of Armenian generations to come. In Europe, they had been interested in the newly-established international scouting movement and were eager to introduce it to Armenian communities.
Shavarsh Krissian, Hovhannes Hintlian, Krikor Hagopian, and Vahan Cheraz were among the prominent representatives of that generation.
Throughout the first decade of the 20th century, dozens of Armenian sports movements and clubs were being formed in Constantinople and its districts. Later, “Marmnamarz” (”Sports”), a monthly published by Shavarsh Krissian and dedicated to sports and sports games would come to nurture the development of this movement.
A publication is created, a nation is slaughtered, and an organization is created “rising from the dark tombs”. These are the events that make the second decade of the 20th century a historically decisive era for Homenetmen.
At the onset of the decade, in February 1911, Shavarsh Krissian, a well-known athlete and sports trainer, established the first ever Armenian sports magazine, “Marmnamarz” (“Sports”). He developed the monthly publication into a platform advocating for the fulfillment of his dream of uniting all Armenian sports clubs and teams under one common flag and organizing the Armenian Olympics Games.
The first-ever Armenian Olympics were held on May 1, 1911. They became an annual tradition and were organized in 1912 and 1913. The third games were presided by Komitas, the father of Armenian music. The fourth games were halted in 1914, at the wake of the First World War.
With the outbreak of the Armenian Genocide, Shavarsh Krissian was arrested on the night of April 24, 1915. He did not live long enough to see the fulfillment of his dream. He was exiled into the desert and then martyred.
From the horrors of the Genocide a new organization was brought to life, baptized with the martyrs’ blood and given the name of Homenetmen. Its mission was to serve the Armenian people.
The Armenian General Union for Physical Education and Scouts – Homenetmen was officially founded in November 1918, with the mission of providing the next generation of Armenians with a solid physical and moral education. This new generation, having survived the Genocide, would be the one to resurrect the nation and make it stronger than ever.
Homenetmen played a pivotal role during the independence of Armenia. The organization supported Armenian Genocide survivors – orphans and displaced individuals facing starvation – as well as contributed to the national fundraising efforts and assisted the Armenian Army. In 1919, Homenetmen became a member of the National Relief Committee founded in Constantinople.
In 1919, the Homenetmen Olympics were revived in Constantinople. Now called Navasartian Games, they took place on August 31, 1919, under the auspices of Patriarch Zaven Der Yeghiaian, Head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey.
On April 18, 1920, Homenetmen celebrated the first-ever Armenian Scouts Day in the First Republic of Armenia.
On September 5, 1920, the first Pan-Armenian Olympics were organized. They were presided over by B. Tahtajian, the representative of the newly independent Republic of Armenia. The second and third Navasartian Games took place on October 2, 1921 and August 27, 1922.
In the summer of 1912, Shavarsh Krissian had endorsed the founding of a new Armenian sports club. Far away from Constantinople and Yerevan, Gamk Armenian Sports Association was established in Alexandria, Egypt. After Homenetmen developed into a worldwide Armenian organization, Gamk became a separate unit of Homenetmen. Ararad Sports Club, now called Homenetmen Ararat, was founded in Cairo in 1914.
Homenetmen is dissolved in Turkey and is reestablished in the Armenian Diaspora.
Between 1918 and 1921, Homenetmen continued its operations from Constantinople and the provinces of the Ottoman Empire. On September 16, 1922, taking into consideration the political situation of the time, Homenetmen had to officially dissolve its operations in Turkey. Yet, the organization continued to flourish elsewhere.
The decade spanning from 1920 to 1930 witnessed the remarkable progress and expansion of the ideology and operation of Homenetmen all over the world, from the Middle East to Europe to the Americas.
Homenetmen continued to expand from one Armenian community to the next. Within just a few years, the organization opened over fifty new chapters. Some were short-lived, but most are thriving to this day.
The chapters established during this decade are listed below, based on their geographic dispersion:
Lebanon – Beirut (1924), Zahle (1927), Tripoli (1929), and Baalback (1930)
Syria – Aleppo (1925), Damascus (1925), Lataquia (1926), and Homs (1930)
Cyprus – Larnaca (1927)
Greece – Fix-Singru, Kokkinia, Liazma (1924), Midili and Dede Agaj (1927), Thessaloniki (1928), Cavalle (1929)
Bulgaria – Plovdiv and Rusjuk (1921), Sofia (1922), Sliven (1923)
Tatar Bazarjik, Stara Zagora, and Burgas (1924), Shumen and Khaskovo (1925), Aytos (1930)
Romania – Bucharest, Silistra, Bazarjik (now Dobrich) and Constanze (1922), Galaz Strunga, Gherla, and Kishinev (1925)
Central Europe – Paris (1920), Lyon, Marseille and adjacent regions (1924), Valance, Brussels, and Vienna (1925)
Americas – New York (1921), Philadelphia and Boston (1922), Providence (1923), Mexico (1925), Buenos Aires and Montevideo (1927)
By this decade, it had become equally important to spread the mission and ideology of Homenetmen. Several scouting magazines and publications were being published regularly: “Hye Scout” (“Armenian Scout”) and “Hye Ari” (“Armenian Scout”), both published in France, “Ari” (“Scout”), published in Bucharest, “Marzig” (“Sportsman”) and “Hye Scout” (“Armenian Scout”), published in Sofia, “Nor Serount” (“New Generation”) published in Greece, and “Gaydzag” (“Lightning”) published in Egypt.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the “Iron Curtain”, Minas Cheraz was shot to death in 1927. He was a scouting pioneer and a devoted founder of Homenetmen.
Regression throughout the Americas, progression in the Middle East
During the 1930s, the Great Depression of the United States took its toll on Homenetmen Chapters both in the States and throughout the American continent, weakening them dramatically. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, two Homenetmen Regional Assemblies were organized in 1929 and 1931 respectively in Syria and Lebanon. This triggered a new wave of organizational growth throughout the Middle East.
The enthusiasm generated by Homenetmen chapters in Beirut, Zahle, Aleppo, and Damascus was galvanizing. Soon, Armenian communities from other cities in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine were demanding that new chapters be opened in their cities as well.
This appeal from a youth deprived of their fatherland, yet committed to the preservation of their national identity, was soon rewarded. Eleven new Homenetmen chapters were opened in Syria alone, while several others were opened in Palestine and Jordan.
The geographic expansion of Homenetmen during this decade is as follows:
Syria – Qamishli (1931), Tell Abyad (1932), Hasiche, Jarablus, and A’zaz (1934), Arab Bunar (1935), Derbessiye (1936), Ayn Diwar, Deir ez-Zor, and Ras al-Ayn (1937), Derik (1938)
Lebanon – Burj Hamoud and Rayak (1935)
Palestine – Jerusalem (1935), Hayfa and Yafa (1937)
Jordan – Amman (1937)
Greece – Amarus, Tamboura, and Heraklion (1931).
The highlight of the decade was the inter-chapter Easter games and the parades organized annually in Aleppo. They were impressive and memorable for anyone who attended them. First organized in 1927 with only a few hundred spectators, the games soon developed into sports festivals attended by over forty thousand Armenians, including prominent national figures such as Hagop Oshagan, Shavarsh Missakian, Simon Vratsian, and Tro.
The excitement generated by these grand events spread well beyond Homenetmen in the Middle East to reach Homenetmen in Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, and Persia. Future events hosted football and basketball teams from Homenetmen chapters from these countries, adding to the glory of the games.
35 Homenetmen Games were organized over Easter weekends throughout a period of 45 years. The Games were held in Aleppo (28 times), Beirut (six times), and once, in both cities at the same time.
The 35th (and the last) Games were held in 1972, in Beirut. The event was sponsored by Sleyman Frenjieh, the President of the Republic of Lebanon, and were attended by the Lebanese political elite.
Meanwhile in Greece, Homenetmen athlete Yeghpayr Aram Arakelian carried the 1936 Berlin Olympic torch. As the only Armenian ever to carry the Olympic torch, Aram Arakelian received the honor in appreciation for his dedicated service to the Greek sports.
A sad and solemn decade
World War II shattered Homenetmen chapters across Europe and the United States. In Eastern Europe, the spread of communism was a blow to Homenetmen, while the movement of repatriation from the Armenian Diaspora to the Armenian homeland depleted the organization’s ranks in the Middle East.
During the war years, the organization reached its 25th anniversary milestone. Homenetmen chapters in Western Europe and the United States received a terrible blow from the awful political and economic circumstances.
During the Communist era, a serious attack was unleashed on all non-communist movements and organizations throughout Eastern Europe, especially in Romania and Bulgaria. Prominent Armenian leaders, including members of Homenetmen, were arrested and sent into exile. In these two countries, all Homenetmen chapters were shut down and the organization was banned.
The unfortunate events of the Armenian communities in the Middle East added to the panic and calamity. During the second half of 1940s, Armenian communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Greece were drained by the repatriation. This caused severe internal political issues within the communities. Homenetmen chapters in the Middle East were also affected. However, they soon regained their vigor and energy.
This decade also marks the supremacy of Homenetmen Football Clubs in Syria and Lebanon. In both countries, Homenetmen clubs repeatedly won the national championships. In 1947 in Aleppo, the famous Navasartian Stadium of Homenetmen was officially opened, with Tro, the national hero, attending the opening ceremonies.
Meanwhile, Homenetmen had several new chapters opened especially throughout the Middle East.
The geographic expansion of Homenetmen chapters during this decade is as follows:
Syria – Tell Brak (1945), Ain al-Arous (1947), Kessab (1948), Raqqa (1950)
Lebanon – Chtaura (1941), Anjar (1948), Hadath (1949), Jounieh (1950)
Iraq – Baghdad (1949)
Greece – Nea Smyrni, Athens, and Carea Kaisariani (1950)
The world turns a leaf on World War II and Homenetmen starts a new, brighter page in its history.
This was an active decade for Homenetmen in terms of restructuring and regenerations from the Middle East to South America, USA, Canada, and France. In the Middle East, the Regional Committee of Homenetmen led its chapters in Syria and Lebanon into an especially productive period.
The fifties were the golden decade for Homenetmen Beirut Chapter within Lebanese sports. During this period, the chapter football team conquered the National Championship twice (1951 and 1955), as well as the Championship Cup (1955). In 1950, the chapter’s men’s basketball team won the National Championship, while the women’s basketball team was unbeatable for six consecutive years: they won all national championships from 1951 to 1956. Chapter cycling and table tennis teams also achieved their best results. Brothers Nalchayian and Dzadourian won the Lebanese Cycling Championship in 1950, 1955, and 1958. In the same years, Vahakn Mesrobian and Nazig Hovhannessian became national champions in table tennis.
Meanwhile, in the United States significant efforts were invested towards rejuvenating Homenetmen chapters. In 1951, Kerop Arakelian formed the Armenian Sports Association with the goal of promoting Homenetmen in Armenian communities throughout the States. In 1955, the Association contributed 2,000 USD towards purchasing the building and the sports field of the Homenetmen Beirut Chapter.
The newly-formed Armenian community in Canada was also enthusiastic about being a part of Homenetmen. In 1958, the first-ever Homenetmen chapter in Canada was opened in Montreal.
During the same period, attempts were made to restore the dozens of chapters that were operating in pre-war France. Unfortunately, only a small number of those chapters resumed their activities, with some chapters changing their names and demonstrating an almost non-distant connection with the center.
This decade also brought an end to the Homenetmen chapters in Persia (Tehran, Tavriz, and Rashed) in 1950. This was the result of a decision by the Persian Ministry of Education not to renew the organization’s permit. Later, a permit was granted to the Armenian Cultural Ararat Organization. For decades, Ararat maintained a close affiliation with the Regional Committee of Homenetmen in the Middle East. The Ararat sports team took part in the pan-Homenetmen Games, while Ararat scouts attended pan-Homenetmen camping trips and conferences.
Homenetmen prospers and thrives in Australia, the United States, and Canada.
The political events of Arab countries in the 1960s caused a large number of Armenians to relocate from the Middle East to the United States, Canada, and Australia. New Homenetmen chapters were founded in new regions.
In 1965, forty Homenetmen members, who had recently moved from the Middle East, established the Homenetmen Sidney Chapter. A year later, another chapter opened its doors in Melbourne. In 1968, both chapters organized the Navasartian Games of Homenetmen in Australia. Ever since, the games have been an annual event organized every December.
Following Australia’s lead, Homenetmen chapters in the United States that had been inactive since the 1930s resumed their activities, due to the efforts of the Armenians who had recently relocated from the Middle East. In 1968, a new chapter of Homenetmen – the first in post-war USA – was opened in Los Angeles.
In Canada, where Homenetmen had been operating since 1958, two new chapters had opened in Hamilton and Toronto. On the other hand, the Homenetmen Montreal Chapter had united with the local Gamk Armenian Sports Association and was renamed as Homenetmen-Gamk.
Besides structural achievements, this decade was also important for the development of the sports life in the Armenian community in Lebanon. Following three inter-school sports tournaments organized in 1958, 1961, and 1962, Homenetmen launched LEVAM Games (Students Tournaments for Armenian High Schools in Lebanon) in 1966. LEVAM brought together all the high schoolers from Armenian schools throughout Lebanon for sports games and a little healthy competition. Since 1969, LEVAM has been organized by the Regional Committee of Homenetmen in Lebanon.
From then on, every year hundreds of high schoolers from Armenian schools throughout Lebanon compete in the annual LEVAM Games. Later, sports talents represent Homenetmen in national and international games and tournaments.
Homenetmen reaches a historical cornerstone and is structured into a world-wide Armenian organization governed by a Central Committee.
Homenetmen’s organizational restructuring is followed by an operational one. Two General Assemblies and two pan-Homenetmen camping trips were organized, regions were furnished with Regional Committees, and Homenetmen published the initial issue of its official publication, “Marzig” Magazine (“Sportsman”).
In February 1973, the 20th Regional Assembly of Homenetmen in the Middle East was the last one to be organized in that format. The main agenda discussed by a group of 60 delegates was the formation of a central governing body: the Homenetmen Central Committee.
After a reporting on the completed term, the Assembly accepted the Regional Committee’s suggestion to form a Central Committee and created a sub-committee of three members to facilitate its formation. For the last time, a new Regional Committee of the Middle East was elected with the main goal of organizing the first Homenetmen General Assembly. The latter was to elect the Homenetmen Central Committee.
A year later, in December 1974, the first Homenetmen General Assembly was held in Beirut. Representatives from 28 Homenetmen chapters were in attendance. A new era had begun.
Five years later, the second Homenetmen General Assembly took place in Nicosia. It was attended by representatives from 46 chapters.
The first two Central Committees organized two pan-Homenetmen camping trips – the first was in August 1978 in Kalamos, Greece, while the second was in 1980, in Clamart, France. Respectively 226 and 291 campers from twelve Homenetmen regions took part in the camping trips.
In 1980, “Marzig” (“Sportsman”), Homenetmen’s official monthly magazine, was published in Beirut.
Homenetmen’s progress in the Armenian communities throughout the world continued to gain momentum. During this decade, 21 new chapters were created, fourteen of which were in the United States. The rapid increase in the number of chapters lead to the restructuring of the regions. The following four Regional Committees were formed: Australia (1973), Western United States (1974), Canada (1975), and Eastern United States (1977).
Moreover, two important initiatives took off during the second half of 1970s. The first was the organization of the Navasartian Games in Los Angeles (1975), and the second was the May Festival and Parade in Lebanon (1978). Both were expressions of Homenetmen’s unending vigor and spirit.
New Homenetmen chapters that were established during this decade show the following geographic dispersion:
Western United States – San Francisco (1970), Fresno (1973), Montebello (1974), Pasadena (1977), Orange County and San Fernando Valley (1979).
Eastern United States – Washington DC (1971), Boston (1973), New York, New Jersey, and Chicago (1975), Detroit (1976), and Philadelphia (1978)
Australia – Western Sydney (1973)
Canada – Cambridge (1977)
Argentina – Cordoba (1979)
England – London (1979)
Kuwait – Kuwait (1978)
Lebanon- Antelias (1970), Jdeideh (1974).
Also, the Homenetmen Paris Chapter was revived in 1977. In 1974, the Homenetmen-Gamk in Alexandria and Homenetmen Ararad in Cairo joined the Homenetmen’s organizational structure.
A Homenetmen member at the Moscow Olympics, four Homenetmen chapters in Soviet Armenia. Two significant events mark the beginning and the end of a decade that was rich with dynamic initiatives.
This remarkable decade opened with a Homenetmen member taking part in the world’s biggest international sports event. Aysar Salloum, a cyclist and a member of Homenetmen, represented Lebanon at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
After that, the participation of Homenetmen members in the Olympics became a recurring event. Homenetmen members and cyclists Serop Aslanian, Hrach Dzadourian, George Hneyin, Vetche Dzadourian, and Armen Aslanian represented Lebanon in the Los Angeles (1984,) Seoul (1988), and Barcelona (1992) Olympics.
Meanwhile, the organization was implementing a dynamic agenda worldwide – two General Assemblies, two pan-Homenetmen camping trips, three pan-Homenetmen games, and two pan-Homenetmen chief scouts’ conferences, to name a few. Ten new chapters were opened and many more restored their activities throughout the American continent and in Europe.
The number of delegates attending Homenetmen General Assemblies attested to the organization’s growth and development. In 1983, representatives from 55 chapters attended the third General Assembly, while representatives from 57 chapters attended the fourth General Assembly in 1987. Both were organized in Athens.
The increase in the number of participants in the pan-Homenetmen camping trips was another proof. 269 campers from eleven regions attended the third general camping trip organized in England, while 484 campers from fourteen regions attended the fourth one in Greece, in 1990.
Two pan-Homenetmen conferences organized for chief scouts: one in Athens in 1982 and the other in California in 1988 – accelerated the scouting activities.
Two pan-Homenetmen conferences were organized for chief scouts: one in Athens in 1982, and the other in California in 1988. These events played a major role in the further progress and acceleration of the scouting activities.
During this decade, sports life was also very active. Three pan-Homenetmen tournaments were organized in 1981 (Canada), 1985 (Los Angeles), and 1990 (Valance), and top football, basketball, and volleyball teams took part in them.
On a more regional level, in 1984 the Regional Committee of Homenetmen in Western USA initiated CAHAM (California Armenian Students Sports Tournaments), as well as the pan-Armenian Games in 1988. Sports teams from other Armenian youth and sports organizations, such as AGBU and HMM, also took part in the pan-Armenian Games.
Following to the excitement generated in the Western United States, Homenetmen in the Eastern United States also launched an inter-chapter sports tournament. In the following years, Homenetmen chapters in the region took turns hosting the much-anticipated event.
The overall excitement died out in January 1986, when Yeghpayr Vartkes Der Garabedian, the chairperson of several consecutive Homenetmen Central Committees, together with Levon Berberian and Nerses Khudaverdian, was killed by the enemies of the Armenian people.
Towards the end of the decade, Homenetmen’s worldwide family was affected by the Karabagh Movement and the Artsakh Liberation War, as well as the devastating earthquake that hit Armenia in December 1988. Homenetmen chapters from all over the world organized disaster relief and came to the rescue of their fellow Armenians.
In Armenia, Homenetmen demonstrated its true character, dedication, and genuine servitude towards the nation and the people. In the last days of the Soviet Regime, Armenia embraced Homenetmen. Holding the Armenian flag high, Homenetmen entered Armenia and opened its first chapter in Yerevan, on December 2, 1989. Later on, three new chapters were opened in Charentsavan, Abovyan, and Sisian.
The new chapters established during this decade have the following geographic dispersion:
Eastern United States – Providence and Florida (1981), Albany (1986)
Western United States – San Diego (1983)
Canada – St. Catharines (1986)
Italy – Milan (1983, dissoleved)
Austria – Vienna (1985)
Australia – Eastern Sydney (1981), Ararad (1989)
Lebanon – Batroun (1987, dissolved)
Armenia – Yerevan (1989), Charentsavan, Abovyan, Sisian (1990)
Also, the Homenetmen Valance and Montevideo chapters restored their activities respectively in 1983 and 1987.
Homenetmen in the newly independent Republic of Armenia. Homenetmen-HASK becomes a member of World Organization of the Scout Movement.
The last decade of the 20th century was definitely the most decisive one for Homenetmen. The dream of the Homenetmen founders and several generations of dedicated members was realized with the return of the organization to Armenia in 1990s and its membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Homenetmen celebrated its 80th anniversary with a magnificent event organized in Yerevan.
In Armenia, Homenetmen was already functioning with ten chapters. In December 1991, Homenetmen had its first loss to the war between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Homenetmen member Yeghpayr Vardan Bakhshyan, member to the Homenetmen Central Committee, was killed during the battle of Hasanapat.
In 1995, following a decision adopted by the 6th General Assembly, Homenetmen Scouting in Armenia was renamed Armenian National Scouting Movement (HASK, as it is called in Armenian). The following year, the Hye Ariner (Armenian Scouts) Movement in France presented HASK with the honor of representing the Armenian Scouting Movement. Thus, on April 17, 1997, HASK became an official member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Shortly afterwards, in April 1998, the organization became one of the founders for the World Scout Movement’s Eurasia Department, with HASK chairperson serving as the department president.
Meanwhile in the Diaspora, this decade brought a series of new initiatives and achievements. Seventeen new chapters were opened, seven of which were in Western United States. Homenetmen in Bulgaria restored its activities with six new chapters and over five hundred members.
Several pan-Homenetmen events brought together the ever-growing family of Homenetmen. During this decade, two Pan-Homenetmen Games were organized with the same boundless enthusiasm. The first was held in Canada (1993) and the second in the Eastern United States (1997). The third Pan-Homenetmen Scouting Conference was organized in Sydney, in 1996.
There was a significant increase in both the number of Homenetmen chapters and their members. The best indicator of this is the sheer quantity of the subsequent General Assemblies and Pan-Homenetmen camping trips.
Representatives from 65 chapters attended the 5th General Assembly (1991). The number of chapters represented at the 6th General Assembly (1995) had increased to 83. Only four years later, 87 chapters were represented at the 7th General Assembly.
Similar encouraging figures are mirrored at the Pan-Homenetmen Camping trips. 432 campers from 14 regions attended the 5th Pan-Homenetmen Camping in 1994 in Byurakan. In 1998, 740 campers from 18 regions took part in the 6th Pan-Homenetmen Camping.
On a more regional level, exciting initiatives were taken in Egypt and in South America.
In 1994, Basketball Tournaments for the Armenian community in Egypt were organized with the active participation of Homenetmen-Gamk in Alexandria and Homenetmen-Ararad in Cairo. The Navasartian Games resumed their activities in 1996 and have since become an annual event.
The decade and the century ended with a new Homenetmen initiative: the first-ever Pan-Armenian Games. This started a new era of unity in sports both in Armenia and in the Diaspora.
Following a full participation in the organization of the games for over two years, Homenetmen attended the Games with 250 athletes. The Games took place in Yerevan from August 28 to September 5, 1999. 1,141 Armenian athletes from 62 cities competed in the Games.
The geographic dispersion of new Homenetmen chapters in this decade is the following:
Armenia – Hrazdan, Etchmiatsin, Vardan Bakhshyan, Ararat-Vedi, Akhtala, and Lori (1991)
Artsakh – Ararat (1998, dissolved)
Sweden – Stockholm (1991)
Netherlands – Almelo (1996)
Western United States – Santa Clara and Salt Lake City (1991), South Bay (1992), Crescenta Valley (1993), Burbank (1995), Las Vegas (1996), Phoenix (1998), and Walnut Creek (1999)
Lebanon – Bawshrieh (1998)
Alongside the newly opened chapters, several others resumed their activities – Kessab, Syria (1994), Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse (1991), Shumen (1997), Burgas and Dobrich (1999) in Bulgaria.
Homenetmen enters the 21st century with an impressive 26,000 members dispersed over 100 chapters worldwide.
The successful journey of Homenetmen is the result of its organizational expansion and the emphasis on regional initiatives and events. However, the organization also faced some global challenges, with the symptoms of a society that was becoming more and more globalized: outrageous materialism, high-speed development, detachment from national values, loss of identity, to name a few.
But Homenetmen did not succumb to the challenge and continued to open new chapters in Javakhk (Georgia), Hungary, and Moscow. The chapter in Sweden resumed its activities, along with four other chapters that had been detached from the organization due to unfavorable circumstances in Baghdad, Mosul, Nicosia, and Marseille.
During the first decade of the 21st century, Homenetmen opened the following new chapters:
Javakhk – Akhalkalak (2001), Akhaltskha (2002)
Armenia – Aramus (2002)
Western United States – Colorado (2002)
Hungary – Budapest (2005, dissolved)
Russia – Moscow (2008)
Meanwhile, the Stockholm chapter, which had been dissolved for ten years, was reactivated. Homenetmen chapters in Baghdad, Mosul, Nicosia (all in 2003) and Homenetmen-Ardziv in Marseille (2007) reunite to Homenetmen’s organizational structure.
Three Pan-Homenetmen Games were organized in 2001 (Lebanon), 2005 (Greece), and 2009 (Armenia). They were followed by two organizational meetings held in Beirut and in Athens. The most important Pan-Homenetmen events begun to be organized in Armenia: two Pan-Homenetmen Camping trips in Byurakan (2002 and 2006), and two Conferences for Chief Scouts in Taghkadzor (2004 and 2008). Armenia also hosted the 8th and 9th Homenetmen General Assemblies, which were attended by representatives from 90 and 99 chapters, respectively.
During this decade, Homenetmen chapters continued to take new initiatives. In Europe, Homenetmen in France developed its annual sports games into the games of Homenetmen chapters in Europe. The London Chapter organized a general camping trip for Homenetmen chapters throughout Europe. Similar successful initiatives were taken by Homenetmen Regional Committees in the Eastern and Western United States, as well as in Canada.
In the Middle East, Homenetmen Central Committee organized three significant events: the organizational meeting of Homenetmen chapters in the Middle East (September 2006, Amman), chapter football and basketball tournaments (April 2007, Nicosia), and the first meeting for Chief Scouts (November 2007, Beirut).
The subsequent opening of new Homenetmen centers played an important role in the overall strengthening of the organization. Thus, the Homenetmen Antranig Chapter in Sydney acquired a new activity space. The Homenetmen Sweden Chapter opened its second club in Sodertalje, while the Ararad Chapter in Glendale acquired its second building.
Meanwhile, new camping sites and sports grounds were being purchased and constructed. They were to serve as centers for preserving the Armenian national identity.
In the summer of 2000, the Government of Armenia allocated Homenetmen a plot of land in Byurakan, where the Pan-Homenetmen Camping Site is now constructed. In 2008, Homenetmen in the Western US procured its own camping site in Takoya. In 2000, Homenetmen acquired a new football field and a basketball court in Lebanon, respectively named Boghos Aris and Adom and Sella Tnjougian. In 2004, Homenetmen opened the doors of Yervant and Nayiree Shahinian Sports Complex in Toronto. In 2007, Homenetmen in Syria started the construction of a modern sports complex.
In Syria, following a mandatory cessation of sixteen years, Homenetmen regained an official permit to resume its activities. The scouting movement was officially recognized and a parade was organized. The Homenetmen Women’s Basketball team, the national champion of Syria, was the star of the parade. In 2008, the team placed second in the national championship and the third at the Club Championship of West Asia.
During that same period, female Homenetmen athletes had several consecutive triumphs. The female table tennis group of Homenetmen Beirut Chapter won the Arab Cup for Table Tennis in 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2007. Chess master Knarig Mouradian conquered the Women’s Chess Championship of the Arab World in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2007.
In Armenia, Homenetmen continued to expand its activities in scouting and formed 13 scouting units in 13 towns and cities all over Armenia. Based on a decision by the 7th General Assembly, the practice of sister chapters between Homenetmen chapters in Armenia and the diaspora was established. Scouts of Homenetmen units in Armenia obtained their first educational textbooks titled “Yes gaylik em” (“I’m a cub scout”, 2003) and “Yes scout em” (“I’m a scout,” 2004).
New publications were printed in Beirut, where several scouting textbooks were published – “Miasdgh” (One Star”), “Yergasdgh” (“Two stars”), “Yergrort gark” (“Second Rank”), “Arachin gark” (“First Rank”). Also published were the third and fourth editions of “History of Homenetmen” by Puzant Torigian, followed by the publications of “Homenetmeni tasdiaragchagan oughetsouytse” (“Homenetmen’s educational guidebook”), “Homenetmenagan gentsaghakidoutyan yev protocol hasgatsoghoutyan oughetsouytse” (“Guidebook for etiquette and protocol of Homenetmen”), as well as the second editions of the “Marzig” (“Sportsmen”) editorials.
Other notable initiatives of this decade include the scouting pilgrimage to Deir ez-Zor and Margate dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the creation of the Strategy Committee following a decision by the 9th General Assembly, and, in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the organization, the opening of a lyceum in memory of Shavarsh Krissian, and the organization of a symposium in Yerevan in September 2008.
Homenetmen was firmly established in the homeland, spread in Europe, and boomed in the Middle East.
The second decade of the 21st century was remarkable because of Homenetmen's activities in Armenia. Homenetmen - HASK witnessed an increase in membership and advancement and it received the "Best Youth Organization in Yerevan" award in 2012. In August of the same year, the organization established a four-story center in Yerevan. Thereafter many centers were opened up; “Varoujan and Sona Kazanjian” Center in Apovian (September 12, 2015) and the renovated office “Koko and Armine Palayan” of Vatche Rostomian Chapter in Etchmiadzin (July 3, 2016).
Scout work gained momentum after the start of war in Syria due to which a large number of Syrian-Armenians moved and settled in Armenia. As a result, many Homenetmen members became members of the Homenetmen-HASK. The increase in membership numbers and activities created the need for new campsites. On July 11, 2011 “Hayg Hovsepian” campground was officially opened in Yerevan. This campsite was constructed with the donations of Hovsepian’s relatives for his early death in the Western United States. Soon this campsite became too small to embrace all the scouts who were joining the Homenetmen organization. Four years later, the campsite was expanded and re-decorated. It reopened its doors and welcomed the scouts on September 30, 2015. Meantime, the Homenetmen campsite in Puragan was expanding and improving, and its opening ceremony took place on August 22, 2014. This campsite welcomed the first Homenetmen Kouyr Chapters’ camp (2011), the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Scout Camp (2012), the scouts Araradian Gark, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd courses (2010, 2014, 2018), as well as Pan-Homenetmen 9th, 10th, and 11th camps (2010, 2014, 2018).
Homenetmen-HASK gave more impetus to its activities because on February 12, 2013 an agreement was signed between Homenetmen-HASK and the Ministries of Education, Labor and Social Affairs with the purpose of "organizing and involving vulnerable children in Armenia."
This program was funded by the World Scout Movement. Homenetmen - HASK achieved success on the international frontiers too and in 2016, it hosted the 6th Eurasian Scout Conference and the 3rd Youth Forum.
For a three-year term, Pakrad Yesayan, a member of the Homenetmen Central Committee, was elected as a member of the World Scout Committee. The second phenomenon of this decade was the war in Syria, which had catastrophic consequences for Homenetmen in Syria, but on the other hand, had a favorable impact on European regions, where Syrian-Armenian Homenetmen members set about creating new chapters and expanding their activities. As a result, three new chapters were established in Sweden, two in the Netherlands and one in Germany. The Homenetmen chapters on the European continent became very energetic and undertook many activities such as, the first workshop of Vegayyal Gark of Homenetmen European chapters (2016, Sweden), the first Pan-European youth gathering (2017, Vienna) and the first three meetings of Board Chairmen of Homenetmen European chapters (2016 in Paris, 2017 in Almelo, 2018 in Munich).
Inter-chapter annual sports games among Homenetmen Western United States, Eastern United States, and Canada continued with great enthusiasm on the American continent. In Los Angeles, KAHAM (Armenian Student Sports Games in California), leadership training seminars, Saint Mesrob Mashtots Emblem courses, etc. were successfully implemented. The adoption of the Miavor (unit) became a novelty. According to the decision of the Parliamentary General Assembly (2011), many Homenetmen Miavors (units) were established in many cities. Thus, dual Miavors (units) were formed in Eastern United States (Charlotte, Merimec Valley) and Western United States (Sacramento, Santa Clarita). Some units were also established in Armenia, and these units replaced some previously established chapters.
In 2010, many annual mini-marathons took place in Southern America. These events were widely accepted by both Armenian and foreign circles, and were dedicated to the Armenians, Armenia and the Armenian Cause.
In the Middle East, sports life was living its new golden age with the success of Homenetmen Lebanese girls' and boys’ basketball teams. For three consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018), Homenetmen Antelias Chapter girls’ team won the championship, and the boys' representative group won the championship in 2018. The two groups also made a historic achievement during the 100th anniversary of the organization by winning two titles in the Arab World Club championships.
In terms of construction, many accomplishments had been recorded during this decade mainly in Cyprus (opening of a new stadium) and Lebanon (opening of "Boghos Aris" football field and "Adom and Sella Tnchukian" basketball and mini football field). In Aleppo, the Homenetmen garden, which was set on fire due to the war, was renovated and put in use.
Concerning Aleppo, one should never forget Homenetmen's tribute to the war in Syria. In 2011-2018, twenty Homenetmen members fell victims while defending Aleppo's Armenian neighborhoods and the war. In June 2016, Homenetmen Raffi Bchakjian, head of the self-defense of the Armenians of Aleppo, was among those victims. Throughout the war, Homenetmen members provided unwavering support to Aleppo-Armenians. They participated in the cleaning of Armenian-populated neighborhoods, preparing and distributing food, supplying water, and providing 24-hour security.
The Homenetmen Pan-Armenian structure operated with vigor and with the organization’s numerous initiatives, it linked the different regions to one another and to the central committee. At this point two Inter-Tivan conferences were held (in 2013 and 2016, Nicosia), two Pan-Homenetmen Chief Scouts conferences (in 2012, Dzaghgatsor; in 2016, Yerevan), two Central Committee meetings (in 2011, Dzaghgatsor; in 2015, Aghveran), three Pan- Homenetmen camps (in 2010, 2014, and 2018, Pyuragan), and three Pan-Homenetmen sports games (in 2013 and 2017, Yerevan). All these events surpassed their predecessors in number and success of their participants.
Strengthening and expanding Homenetmen’s organizational structure made those who were in charge face the immediate challenges of modernizing the organization. After four years of preparation, Homenetmen’s 10th Central Committee meeting (2011), adopted a strategic plan to develop and advance Homenetmen. In January 2014, after official agreement, Homenetmen started benefiting from the technical services of the world-famous "Google" company. In August of the same year, Homenetmen signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia.
The geographical picture of the establishment of chapters and units of this decade is presented as follows:
• Armenia- Mardouni (2012), Yerevan/Gomidas (2014), Vedi (2014).
• Lebanon- Rawda (2011).
• Western United States – North Hollywood (2011), Sacramento (2016), Santa Clarita (2018).
• Eastern United States- Charlotte (2015), Merrimack Valley (2017).
• Swedn- Vestros (2014), (later on dispersed), Stockholm (2015), Sodertalje (2015).
• Holland-Alkmaar (2014), Arnhem (2015)
• Germany- Munich (2015).
In order to mark the 100th anniversary, the organization launched many activities and events. At the initiative of Homenetmen Central Committee, on July 19-29, 2018, a number of events were organized in Armenia. These events included a conference, an exhibition, and the publication of Homenetmen museum album, anniversary parade, majestic celebration at the Opera House, handing over of torches brought from Istanbul, Beirut and Paris to the eternal fire of Tsitsernakaberd, publication of the 100th anniversary stamp, unveiling of the statue of Vahan Cheraz in Gyumri, etc.
After the glorious celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Armenia, the Homenetemen Organization marked its anniversary with solemn celebrations with its dozens of chapters spread all over the world. On this occasion, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I granted the "St. Mesrob Mashtots” award to the organization.