Harford County’s Habonim Dror Camp Moshava — known affectionately by campers, counselors and others in the area simply as “Mosh” – has announced it will not open this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are heartbroken to tell you that we are cancelling all in-person overnight camp activities held at Camp Mosh for summer 2020,” the camp posted May 14 on its website (https://www.campmosh.org/covid-19?fbclid=IwAR2z0Al-UUk6vdpPTe23elp19AvAACLHsNHPpDvWu7WbNyw-z0KYOovmZK0). “This painful decision is made after weeks of searching for ways to create a safe camp community in the midst of this pandemic. We have explored the known and unknown risks, considered potential solutions to the many logistical challenges and consulted experts (such as the CDC, American Camp Association, local health officials in Harford County, our own committee of medical professionals) to determine what procedural changes would be required. …

“We have come to the conclusion that the modifications required and the health threat of COVID-19 are insurmountable at this time. We cannot in good conscience expose campers, staff and their families to the risks that camp would pose in the context of this pandemic illness.”

A coed camp located on 267 acres in the rural community of Street near Bel Air, Mosh has served the Baltimore-Washington corridor for 85 years. The camp was previously located in the Annapolis area. It is one of seven North American camps sponsored by the Habonim Dror International Youth Movement.

In the posting, the camp stated, “Ultimately, the decision was made and founded upon one goal — to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. … Each individual is made stronger by the resilience, creativity and support of the community and each person’s spirit, talents and friendship makes for a resilient and thriving collective.”

Other area camps have not yet announced their plans for this summer. Nationally, nearly all Reform summer camps and at least one Conservative camp recently announced they will close for the 2020 summer.

Habonim Dror camps are affiliated with the Labor Zionist youth movement. The camps teach such values as social justice, coexistence, labor rights and Zionism. The Hebrew language and Israeli folk dancing are hallmarks of the Mosh experience.

In a 2017 interview with Jmore, Jennifer Silber, Mosh’s executive director, described the camp as “based on socialist values of collective living. Every person in the community has something of value to contribute. People are made stronger by being part of the community, and the community is made stronger by the contributions of each individual. In this way, the experience at Mosh feels like a kibbutz in Israel.”

She said nearly 100 percent of the staff grew up as campers at Mosh. “That’s unusual for Jewish camps in North America,” said Silber. “As adults, campers continue to be friends. These are the people they feel most connected to as adults. … Because Mosh is a small community, everyone knows everybody. Connections made at Mosh last a lifetime.”