Job: Program director at the Stroum Jewish Community Center
His vision: To have 1,000 campers and operate on a $1 million budget for the Stroum JCC’s camps program.
What does the program director do? A whole lot more than you’d assume from the simple title. The position was created about two years ago when the Stroum JCC’s CEO Judy Neuman decided to umbrella several programs under one title. The position was not created specifically for Duitch, but Neuman certainly had him in mind as a leader at the JCC to incorporate many of the successful programs he was already overseeing. After working at the center for seven years and transitioning from leading the youth programs to becoming the camp director, he’s now in charge of youth and recreation, sports, fitness, aquatics, and wellness, and of course, summer camp.
Duitch feels the growth of the summer camp program at the JCC is the most important aspect of his role.
“I’ve really focused on the growth of our summer camp programs,” he says. “We’ve expanded to Seattle — we’ll have close to 80 kids a session in Seattle.”
That camp launched last summer on the Seattle Jewish Community School campus and has expanded to two sessions for this summer.
Looking back to when he first started with the camps program at the JCC, Duitch has been responsible for growing the program nearly 200 percent.
“We’re probably going to hit close to 800 individual kids this summer,” he says.
Having grown up going to overnight camp, Duitch really loved and connected strongly to that experience. So he’s trying to put it into a day camp context.
The camp program is designed to engage kids and encourage them to latch onto what piques their interests.
“Kids can really hook on to what they’re interested in and really grow within those programs,” Duitch says. “They’re taking projects home, they’re really developing something unique and special.”
What is Duitch’s vision for the future as program director at the Stroum JCC?
Branching out, which is what they’ve started doing in the last two years. The summer camp programs are now offered in North Seattle, which is a big change, and now they’re looking in other directions.
“We’re still evaluating and seeing where we can go next. South? East?” he says. “[We’re] looking at different pockets and seeing where we can serve them and see where we can make it easy for kids to participate in Jewish day camp.”
His accomplishments at the Stroum JCC are easy to track: Growing the summer camp program from 300 participants to 800 is proof in numbers. But Duitch also prides himself in growing and developing a more robust aquatics program for the JCC, as well as leading the way for a major remodel in the fitness center and continuing to grow and promote community events. Most importantly, Duitch sees his role in the larger Seattle Jewish community as centralized in what the JCC can do for the greater population.
“We’re trying to cut down barriers and make sure people know we’re available and accessible,” says Duitch. “We’re a members’ facility; we want the community to utilize us for many things. If it’s to lose weight, attend camp, come to a Hanukkah event and learn the blessings — really just making sure we’re available and have services that they can attend. That’s what it’s about, really making sure we’re there for everyone.”