You Should Know… Erica Milgram

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Erica Milgram. Photo Courtesy.

Erica Milgram may have only graduated from college at Elon University a few years ago, but she’s already found her passion, now working as the assistant director of school-age services at the Pozez JCC since May 2023. She primarily works with the six-week-long summer camp that the Pozez JCC runs every year but is also involved with a wide range of educational programming for youth at the JCC.

What are your responsibilities as assistant director of school-age services?

I’m involved with a lot of stuff … I would say programming is mainly what I do. It includes activities [for different groups in the camp] … like relay races or community building projects. I have also learned to do camp programming for the whole camp all together. I also plan our field trips and I also do some of our ordering with camp supplies.

Can you tell me about the work that the school-age services department does?

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We basically [have] three different parts [of our job]. The biggest piece … is the six-week summer camp that’s held at Gesher Jewish Day School, not at the JCC. We spend the year planning for that. And then another piece is our after-school program – we call it Chai Five. And that is Monday through Friday, from 3-6 p.m., and we’ll do some games for them, art and crafts, and we have a programming coordinator who kind of runs most of that. So, I oversee that as well. And then there are programs here we do occasionally, sometimes when the kids are off from school, when there are teacher conference days and certain holidays, we hold 9 a.m.-5 p.m. programming days for them here. Those are the three pieces of school-age services. I would say I mostly do camp, but we all kind of have our hands on different things for different areas.

Can you tell me about your background and how you got involved with this role?

I grew up involved in Jewish life. I lived in Israel for a while, did NIFTY, which is like a youth group organization. I went to overnight [Jewish] summer camp. I knew that whatever I did in life it would be something Jewish, although I didn’t know what it would be. I knew I had to be something Jewish. And then I studied Human Services and Jewish Studies at Elon University in North Carolina. I moved to [the D.C. area] about a year and a half ago. I was working as a therapist for kids with autism. And I liked it, but that wasn’t for me for my full career path. And then the assistant director position [at Pozez] opened up and I took it and that’s where I am now. I absolutely love it.

You mentioned that you were young for the role, can you tell me more about that?

I graduated from college about two years ago so I’m relatively young … my title of assistant director, it just to me sounds like [it’s more for] somebody years down the road. I just love, love, love this job, and I view it as something not many people my age get the opportunity to do.

What is it about your work that you get so much joy out of doing?

There’s my personal view on it, and [that’s] just how proud of myself I am for being in this role. And I know many other instructors aren’t at my age and level, and I’m just so proud of what I do right now. But then the other part of it is just seeing camp come together and knowing that I had a huge part in that and knowing that the programs would not have happened if I didn’t help run them.

Tell me about yourself and some hobbies that you enjoy.

I do a lot with dogs. I love dogs, I used to foster dogs, but right now, I’m trying to bring an adoption event or therapy dog event to our JCC. I play pickleball a bit, but I travel a lot. Many of my friends or family are not from Virginia, so I’m always driving to see them on weekends.

How does your Jewish identity impact you on a day-to-day basis?

I feel like Judaism plays into my life with everything I do, and I didn’t always have that Jewish community that I have here. And to be able to plan Jewish events with people that understand that as well is really great. [At camp] we do a lot with Jewish themes and values, along with our themes for the summer. It’s important.

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