RIVERVIEW — A lover of the outdoors who spends her spare time cycling, kayaking and boating, Andrea “Andi” Cook is in her element as the interim executive director of the YMCA’s Camp Cristina.
The 65-acre facility at 9840 Balm-Riverview Road in Riverview, donated to the Y by the late Ray Campo and named in honor of his granddaughter, Cristina, is focused on outdoor activities including horseback riding, fishing, archery, swimming, rock and rope climbing and exploring nature.
“We have so many great programs for residents of all ages,” Cook said. “My job is to bring awareness of all of these great offerings.”
A native of Nashville, Cook’s love affair with the YMCA began more than 15 years ago when she became a Y wellness and business intern while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health and wellness at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
She continued serving in leadership positions at YMCAs in Middle Tennessee and Atlanta, including as director of wellness, membership, teens and branch operations before heading to Tampa to join the Tampa Area Metropolitan YMCA in 2012.
Prior to arriving at Camp Cristina, Cook served as operations executive of the Campo Family Y in Valrico and executive director of the Plant City Y.
“I’m passionate about the mission of the Y movement,” the Riverview resident said. “As a health seeker who has struggled with the challenges of living a balanced, healthy life, I’m focused on how we can impact the community to improve obesity statistics by being active and increasing access to nutritious whole foods for all populations.”
In addition to helping curb obesity in both children and adults, she plans to use her leadership role at Camp Cristina to have an impact on another growing statistic: childhood drowning deaths.
“Hillsborough County has one of the highest rates of childhood drownings in the nation,” she said. “So one of our initiatives at Camp Cristina is to educate residents about water safety and to teach children how to swim.”
With that goal in mind, Camp Cristina is offering a program called Go for Green to all children attending summer camp.
“Throughout the summer, all of our day campers will receive free swim lessons that will give them the skills necessary to obtain a green wrist band that will allow them to swim at any Y facility,” Cook said.
At the beginning of the summer, all campers will take a swim test.
“The campers who are unable to pass the YMCA’s swim test will receive basic instruction from our certified swim instructors, including water safety education and basic water safety skills,” said Cook.
Beyond offering one of the largest day camps in the county, Cook hopes to spread the word about Camp Cristina’s other community services.
“We have so many offerings here the community needs to know about: corporate retreats, birthday parties, company picnics, family events,” she said.
In addition to its Olympic-size swimming pool, Camp Cristina offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing and Wet Willie water-slide fun on Lake Cristina and the area’s only high ropes course, popular for corporate team building and helping youngsters build confidence.
Other activities unique to Camp Cristina include paintball camp and equestrian camp for young horse lovers.
Teens learn to serve the community and gain volunteer hours in Camp Cristina’s EPIC (Encouraging People to Impact the Community) program and build leadership, interpersonal and social skills in Camp Cristina’s LIT (Leadership in Training) program.
For information, visit www.ymcacampcristina .org or call (813) 677-8400.