Camp JCC—Meet the team

by | May 6, 2021 | Trending News

Dave, Sarah, Sierra, Lavette, Elyssa, Kate-Lynn, Chris, and Michelle look forward to seeing campers this summer

Excited to be back in person this summer, Camp JCC’s leadership staff has both new and familiar faces. The extensive experience among these individuals, along with their collective synergy, differentiates and highlights the quality of Camp JCC. Meet the team:

Dave Flagler is director of Camp and Teen Engagement at United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC. He has been a camp director or assistant director for 10 summers and has spent many more as a camper, CIT, counselor, specialist, and program leader. Flagler enjoys dressing in costume, the car pick-up line, making anything into a song or cheer, and generally just being loud. Flagler’s favorite parts of camp are the silly organic moments, the planned and spontaneous activities alike that campers talk about all year, and seeing the tremendous growth of campers and their families day to day, week to week to week, and summer to summer.

When not at Camp JCC, Flagler enjoys playing guitar, singing karaoke, and cheering on the Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, and Florida Gators.

Sarah Cooper is the Camp JCC administrator, in addition to her other UJFT/Simon Family JCC roles. She has been with the Simon Family JCC for more than three years and previously served as an educator in public schools. Cooper is especially excited for camp this year because camp is a special place for children to learn and practice social skills. She loves how this learning takes place with so much excitement and energy that it does not feel like learning. Cooper also loves to see the friendships that form as campers get to know each other throughout the summer.

When not at camp, Cooper enjoys playing volleyball, going on road trips, and spending time with friends and family.





Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation at UJFT, has been an informal and formal Jewish educator for more than a decade.

This will be Lautman’s third summer working with a JCC summer camp. Lautman discovered the magic of camp as a second grade unit head, and loves seeing that magic reflected in her own children’s eyes.

When she is not at camp, you can find her doing yoga, or having fun with her husband and two children at the beach or on a road trip to Pittsburgh to visit their extended family.






Lavette Ricks is the new Head of Camp Katan and serves as a lead toddler teacher and sundown program coordinator for grades 1–4 at Strelitz International Academy. This will be Ricks’ third summer as a part of Camp JCC. She particularly enjoys the morning’s Boker Tov and arts and crafts. She is also very excited for the resuming pool activities and is looking forward to swim lessons and campers’ time in the pool. Ricks has also appeared twice on the local news and does not have a favorite color. When not at Camp JCC, Ricks enjoys traveling and has been to 12 different countries.







Elyssa Brinn, the incoming director of the Strelitz Early Years Program, has previously served as director of Lower Camp and will serve this year in a consulting capacity. When her promotion was announced, Brinn said that, even though Lavette Ricks is an amazing camp director, she could allow herself to not be a part of camp. Brinn has been involved with Camp JCC for 10 years and she enjoys the spirit and is excited for people to simply be together.

When not at Camp JCC, Brinn enjoys boxing, reading, the beach, and cooking new things.






Kate-Lynn Cipolla, a special education teacher’s assistant at Sheldon Park Elementary School and an ODU student, will take over as the head of Camp Gadol. Cipolla has been a part of Camp JCC and JCC Kids Connection for five years. Her favorite part about camp is the campers and struggled with how “weird” it was for us not to be together at camp last summer.

When not at Camp JCC, Cipolla can be found on the beach or cooking for family and friends.







Chris Fenley, a teacher at Grandy High School in Norfolk, resumes his role as specialist coordinator this summer. Fenley has been a part of Camp JCC for more than 20 years and even met his wife at camp. Aside from being able to teach his passions and hobbies, he loves how everything is in motion at camp. This past summer he missed the sense of camaraderie and is looking forward to that again, especially at Shabbat. At camp, he can be found teaching art, fishing, and occasionally, surfing.

While not at camp, Fenley also enjoys kayak fishing.

Michelle Fenley, a licensed clinical social worker at Jewish Family Service, serves as Yachad Inclusion Program coordinator. Fenley has been with Camp JCC for more than 20 years and even met her husband at camp. Fenley enjoys the songs, the excitement, and especially the ruach and energy that happens every day at summer camp. Camp JCC brings out the individuality and creativity in every child and she loves seeing friendships form and rekindle each summer. At camp, in addition to supporting all of the campers, Fenley might be found at the pool or spontaneously teaching yoga.

When she is not at camp, Fenley enjoys running, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and being in the great outdoors.

For more information about Camp JCC or to register, visit or contact Dave Flagler at dflagler or 757-452-3182.