Camps Airy and Louise, two historically Jewish summer camps in the area, announced on May 27 that they will not open this summer due to the pandemic.

“It is with heavy hearts that we write you today with the decision to not host our 2020 summer camp sessions at Camps Airy & Louise,” read a statement issued by the camps’ professional and lay leadership. “Although we were planning on announcing this decision on Sunday [May 31], Governor [Larry] Hogan’s announcement this afternoon preventing overnight camps from opening has caused us to make the formal announcement today.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, one that was made after two months weighing all options and considering all of the professional input and guidance from trusted resources (including the American Camp Association, CDC [the Centers for Disease Control], Maryland and local health departments, our own medical team and many others),” the statement read. “Ultimately, this prudent decision ensures both the safety and well-being of our camp community and our ability to deliver the camp experience our families and staff have come to expect.”

The letter was signed by Lee Coplan, board president of Airy & Louise; Jonathan Gerstl, executive director of Airy & Louise; Alicia Berlin, director of Louise; Marty Rochlin, director of Airy; Neil Berlin, director of operations at Airy & Louise; and Lauren Perlin, director of development for Airy and Louise.

The statement came nearly two weeks after Harford County’s Habonim Dror Camp Moshava announced it will close this summer for the first time in its 85-year history.

Founded in 1922 by Aaron and Lillie Straus, Camps Airy and Louise are located in Western Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain area and have been cherished summer havens for generations of Jewish campers from Baltimore and across the region.

“The Straus Foundation has remained an integral part of our story and our community for nearly 100 years and will continue to partner to ensure Camp’s success for the future,” read the statement. “The Tomorrow Fund was created to support the operations of Camps Airy & Louise in times of emergency. We hope that you will consider making a one-time donation to The Tomorrow Fund, today.”

In addition, the statement said the camps will hold a community Zoom gathering on June 3 at 7 p.m. for alumni and supporters to examine the long-term impact of the decision to close this summer. To register for the Zoom meeting, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAqdeqvpzMsHdRzAix0YMq4YECXqCa4YMOb

The letter also said decisions about “Family Camp” and fall activities held at camp, including Circle and Leaf Reunions, as well as off-season programming, will be forthcoming.