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Camp to go on, without company

Camp Keystone will revive its traditional summer camp program after Rebound Sports decides to stick with its sports camp concept.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 23, 2000


KEYSTONE -- Rebound Sports has pulled out of Camp Keystone leaving owners Earl and Janice Rodda just that, on the rebound.

"We've had two groups say they may purchase the camp but there's no money down and we're not holding our breath," Earl Rodda said.

It was just a year ago that officials with Rebound Sports, a for-profit company, leased Camp Keystone and touted their plans to teach children how to play sports but develop positive attitudes during day camps there.

Verne Reich, chief operating officer for Rebound Sports, said their attention at that time was focused on vacation camp, but "we changed that philosophy about a year ago for cash flow purposes."

Consequently, Rebound decided to go back to what it does best, teaching youth how to play baseball and basketball.

"We have baseball in three locations in Tampa," Reich said. "We have basketball all over the area."

Earl Rodda said Rebound "told us in January they were not going to exercise their option for a second year." He and his wife decided to try to revive their traditional summer camp programs.

"We've got all our counselors hired, the cabins rescreened, cleaned up and ready to go," Earl Rodda said. "We did it all in about three weeks."

This is not the first time the Roddas have had to take back the helm of Camp Keystone.

Three years ago, the camp and Old McMickey's Farm, a children's petting zoo, were managed by Brian Collar, then director of the Florida Boychoir. Collar was evicted from the property after seeking protection in bankruptcy court.

The nearly half-century-old summer complex on 48 acres of wilderness west of Gunn Highway on Crescent Road has long been a local treasure, one the Roddas plan to keep in the family.

"We've had two or three developers approach us but selling has never entered our mind," Rodda said. "We want to preserve the land and make sure it stays a summer camp for kids."

Camp Keystone will run four weeks of day camp, starting July 3; and two-week overnight camp, starting July 16. Day camp runs weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information call (813) 926-6440.

Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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