Noam goes the (social) distance for summer camp

Masorti youth movement rises to the challenge of organising a face-to-face event


Masorti’s youth movement Noam is one of the small number to be running a face-to-face summer camp this year.

It started on Monday and will run until August 7, initially split across three London sites — two in Mill Hill and one in Southgate — to keep the numbers below government guidelines. A fourth site, the Sternberg Centre in Finchley, will be used from next week to accommodate an extra age group.

The 200 participants, plus the 50 youth volunteers, are divided into “bubbles” of 12-13, distanced by at least three metres from any others.

Noam director Lucy Cohen said the necessary adjustments had been “very well incorporated” without detriment to the programmes.

For example, for a mock courtroom debate, arguments were developed in socially distanced groups before the “trial”, with the courtroom set-up keeping participants naturally apart.

Similarly, relay races are being held but runners do not touch one another or pass a baton.

Noam had been determined to stage a physical summer camp, though its format was constantly revised as government advice changed.

Ms Cohen said that at one point there were plans for mini camps of six people in back gardens. But then larger gatherings were permitted.

Masorti chief executive Matt Plen was “proud” that Noam had managed to make things work.

“We were always adamant that cancelling would be the last resort.”

When younger children join the camp next week, Ms Cohen believes that keeping to the guidelines will be “manageable. We’ve got a lot of signage and all the parents know that we’re socially distancing”.

To fund the camp, Noam has raised £25,000 through various campaigns, including more than £12,000 from Noam staff and supporters collectively walking, cycling or swimming the distance of the Shvil Yisrael — Israel’s national hiking trail.

Noam also raised funds by inviting members old and new to post a photo of themselves in a Noam T-shirt on social media, donate £5 and tag five friends, asking them to do the same.

Ms Cohen said it had been “lovely” to see former members posting images from their days in the movement. She herself had dug out one from when she was a 14-year-old at camp.

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