Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Camp Cristina in Riverview gets $750,000 face-lift


Campers eagerly awaiting the chance to spend hot, summer days blasting each other with paintballs can finally take aim.

Mixed in with traditional recreation fare at the YMCA's Camp Cristina, a new paintball course is the piece de resistance in a massive renovation project at the 55-acre site.

A $750,000 donation made by the late Ramon Campo, a developer and philanthropist, paid for the paintball course, a disc golf range, a pavilion with picnic tables, and new fencing and signs throughout the campgrounds. The gift also helped cover the clean-up of old camp shelters and a new surface for the basketball court.

Camp officials unveiled the facility's new look last week when about 100 members of the community, including Campo's adult children, attended a ribbon cutting in the shade of the new pavilion.

Diana Ekonomou, Campo's daughter, said she and her brother helped finalize the donation just weeks before their father died in 2006. Campo, whose name also adorns the YMCA in Valrico, donated the Camp Cristina site to the YMCA in the 1980s. He gave the property in honor of his granddaughter, Cristina, who died of complications from a severe heart defect in 1982 at age 3.

The family's latest gift to Camp Cristina is critical at a time when the recession is taking its toll on many local households, Ekonomou said.

"In today's society, (the improvements are) extremely important because some of these kids don't have enough," she said. "Parents are working, they're struggling to pay a mortgage. Kids need a place that they can get away from all that."

Most of the renovations were finished at the start of weekly camps in early June. The upgrades have helped increase the camp's appeal, said program director Darren Dannelly, noting that enrollment has doubled since last summer.

Many kids still attend the traditional day camp, but extreme camps, including paintball for children ages 12 to 15, are gaining popularity, Dannelly said.

Brandon Mojica, a former camper turned counselor, runs the paintball course. Some days he teaches kids and other counselors how to shoot. On other days, he's just one of the targets.

"All the kids love it," said Mojica, 19. "All the little kids are mad because they're not old enough to play yet."

Kevin Smetana can be reached at or (813) 661-2439.

If you go

New and improved

Camp Cristina is at 9840 Balm Riverview Road, Riverview. The facility holds weekly summer camps through Aug. 21 for kids ages 6 to 15 as well as after-school programs and private parties. For rates or registration information, call (813) 677-8400 or go to

Camp Cristina in Riverview gets $750,000 face-lift 07/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senator: American student arrested in China has been freed


    BILLINGS, Mont. — Chinese authorities have dropped charges against an American college student who was arrested and detained in the a week ago after reportedly injuring a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother in a fare dispute, a U.S. lawmaker said Sunday.

    Guthrie McLean was detained for reportedly injuring a taxi driver after the driver physically attacked McLean’s mother.
  2. Tampa-based makeup artist disqualified from contest over pro-Trump post


    WICHITA, Kan. — A makeup artist who splits her time between Tampa and Kansas says she won a national contest sponsored by Kat Von D Beauty but was later disqualified because of an Instagram post supporting Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.

    Gypsy Freeman won the contest with this image posted to Instagram. [@facesofgypsy on Instagram]
  3. Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills Florida man who thought he just had blisters from a hike


    Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire - a 10-mile round trip - and blisters were no surprise.

    Wayne Atkins thought his blisters were from hiking, but the flesh eating bacteria nearly killed him. [YouTube]
  4. Yes, again: Rays blow late two-run lead, get swept by Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As weekends go, this was a bad one for the Rays. In a word: brutal.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger, foreground, reacts after giving up a home run to Texas Rangers' Carlos Gomez during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) FLMC116
  5. White House offers muddled message on Russia sanctions legislation


    WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the Trump administration supports new legislation to punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its aggression toward Ukraine.

    President Donald Trump at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford  at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, July 22, 2017. [New York Times]