How did Camp Dainava get its name? Because there was a desire to choose an interesting yet meaningful name for the camp, it was decided to have a competition. The winner was Dainora Juozapavičiutė, a Lithuanian-Canadian. Her entry for the competition was DAINAVA. 

When asked about the competition for choosing the camp name, Dainora reminded me that it was many years ago. “With respect to coming up with the name, my mother would read to me the Vincas Krėve book entitled Stories from the Dainava Region. I really liked those stories. My name Dainora comes from the word ‘daina’ (English = song). Lithuania is the land of singing people. As far as I understand, when people would go to the fields to work or during celebrations, they would sing.  I remember, that my father’s family would often sing while sitting in their garden by their house in Kaunas. Both of my parents have strong voices and liked to sing. So, we would all start singing sometimes. My mom reminded me that there is a region in Lithuania called Dainava. So, putting all this together, I got the idea to submit the name ‘Dainava’.”

As winner of the competition, Dainora was awarded a week at the girls’ camp. She came to Dainava for the first time in 1959. Her first impressions: “The place was very open with lots of space. If I remember, there weren’t many trees at that time. I very much liked the lake and hills. It felt like a nice place. There was a lot of room to run around.”

Dainora Juozapavičiutė was born in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) and grew up in Toronto. She participated in Lithuanian youth organizations. She particularly valued Lithuanian youth camps. “They helped to keep Lithuanian culture alive, provided opportunities to be with other Lithuanian youth, and so to form stronger friendships. Due to those strong friendships, many people later got married. Now camps provide an opportunity for the second generation to meet other Lithuanians. This is also a good opportunity to become familiar with Lithuania, with Lithuanian traditions and customs as well as the country’s challenges. That way youth camps instilled, supported and continue to support the Lithuanian culture.”

It seems that Dainora really liked being at camp, because after her first year she spent many years at Dainava and at Canadian camps. She was also a camp counselor and for several years was in charge of camps in Dainava, Wasaga, and Neringa. For some years, as a camp counselor, she would travel all summer going from one camp to the others.

Thank you Dainora Juozapavičiute for choosing such a fine name for the camp – a name that has travelled across many continents and generations.

This interview was originally written in Lithuanian by Romualdas Kriaučiūnas and was published in Tėviskės Žiburiai in April 2006. The article was translated to English by Aldas Kriaučiūnas.