In a June 3 post on its website and Facebook page, Beth Tfiloh Camps announced it will not open for the 2020 summer season.
The post was a reversal of an earlier announcement that the camp would be open this summer despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While Governor [Larry] Hogan announced today that Maryland is moving into Phase 2 of recovery, we still feel that it is not possible to provide a safe and meaningful camping experience for your children. Therefore, BT Camps will not open for the 2020 summer season,” wrote Sam Bloom, director of BT Camps. “We know this news is very disappointing. We are saddened as well, and we appreciate your understanding and patience during these trying circumstances.”
The post came in the wake of similar announcements by such local Jewish summer camping outfits as Camps Airy and Louise in Western Maryland, Habonim Dror Camp Moshava in Harford County and Capital Camps in Waynesboro, Pa., that they will not open this summer because of the pandemic.
Nationally, nearly all Reform summer camps and at least one Conservative camp announced they will close for the 2020 summer.
As recently as May 24, Beth Tfiloh Camps posted that it planned to open. “At this point, we are still planning on having camp this summer, as long as it’s safe and legal to do so,” read a post.
In the June 3 post, Bloom wrote, “With close to 80 years of Jewish day camping history, please know that this is not a decision we take lightly. Over the past two months, we have considered numerous scenarios that might allow us to safely open BT Camps this summer. We rigorously monitored recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Camp Association (ACA), as well as Maryland State and Baltimore County government guidelines. Additionally, we consulted with local medical professionals as well as Beth Tfiloh’s Executive Committee.
“Ultimately, we concluded that there are still too many unknowns about the spread of COVID-19 to safely open camp without risking exposure to our entire BT Camps community, and that is a risk we cannot take. Your health and safety come first.”
The post stated that a future email will address refund options for campers’ families.
“We are grateful for the love and support of our BT Camps community,” Bloom wrote. “We cannot wait to tell you all about the great things that are going to be happening in the coming months. … Keep the BT feeling alive — and you will hear from us very soon.”
Founded in 1943, BT Camps is located on 70 acres in the Reisterstown-Owings Mills area with ballfields, a nature center, ropes course, playground, sport courts, theater, art studios, an aquatics center with three pools, a boating lake and a splash pad.
The camp staff includes more than 200 counselors, educators and other professionals, as well as instructional aides from scores of different colleges and high schools. Every summer, the camp serves more than 1,000 campers ranging in age from 2 to 15.
For information, visit http://btcamps.org.