Camps Butwin & Olami To Close For 2020

After keeping the door of hope for camp this summer open a sliver, the camps of the two Jewish Community Centers in the Twin Cities have closed it.

Allie Greenstein and Ben Savin, the directors of Camp Olami and Camp Butwin, emailed camp families Friday afternoon to break the news.

Greenstein said that they had been continuing to monitor the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if they’d be able to open this summer.

“We continue to ask ourselves, ‘Can we keep our campers and staff safe while offering a meaningful camp experience?’ Through this process, it has become clear that we are not able to run Camp Olami in a way that would meet our, and your, expectations,” Greenstein’s letter to camp families said. “The current risks, both known and unknown, posed by COVID-19 are far too great to operate safely for our campers and staff.”

A month ago, the camps announced that the first session at each camp would be canceled, but had been allowing for the possibility that camp would be able to have some form of a second session. Savin wrote at that time that they “Remain hopeful that with additional planning time and continued social distancing, it will be possible for us to open in-person programming, with modifications that retain the spirit of Camp Butwin.”

Greenstein said that Olami will be offering very limited childcare for people who require it. It will be available from July 13-Aug. 21. Information and registration will be available on June 15.

The announcement means that all of the six major Jewish camps serving the Twin Cities Jewish community – Herzl Camp, OSRUI, Ramah in Wisconsin, and Camp TEKO – will be closing. Many are offering online programming in lieu of camp. The initial program that the JCC offered filled in four hours in late May.