Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New York Health Officials Refuse To "Legislate Fun"

Today, New York State health officials backed down from a proposed plan that would place new regulations on classic children's games such as tag, Wiffle Ball, Dodgeball, etc. at day camps within the state. Lawmakers stated that such activities "pose a significant risk of injury". The department said it would continue to gather information until May 16th, and would formulate new safety regulations that are much broader.

The New York State Department of Health created a list of risky recreational activities in response to a state law that passed in 2009. The law was supposed to close a loophole that legislators said "allowed too many indoor camp programs to operate with oversight". Under the new regulations, any program that offers two or more organized recreational activities (with at least one of them being on the risky list) is deemed a summer camp and subjected to state regulations. 

The List of Games/Activities on the "Warning" List:
- Capture the Flag
- Crab Soccer
- Dodgeball
- Flag Tag 
- Flag Football
- Ga Ga
- Kickball
- Nuk- em
- Red Rover
- Steal the Bacon
- Tag Game of all varieties

The games are not banned at camps, but do they do pose a "player be warned" attitude. Camps that want campers to play the games will be required to pay a $200 registration fee and have medical staff on hand. There are about 2.300 regulated summer camps in New York that are required to be under permit and be inspected twice a year by the state's Department of Health. The state claims that this has resulted in markedly low levels of serious incidents. State statistics also claim that of more than 640,000 children who attend camps, less than two-tenths of one percent are injured in any manner. 

Isn't it our job to teach children not only skills to use throughout their lifetime but teach them games they can use outside the classroom so they can socialize and have fun? I believe "play" is a crucial part of children's development and if they're taking away time in phys. ed and there's no phys. ed during the summer... where are these kids going to learn about being active and learn new games to play? I remember going away to summer camps and wanting to teach my friends all the cool new games I learned while I was away... children can't learn when supervisors and camp counselors can't teach them games just because they could potentially hurt them. Children can get hurt running down the block! In addition to that, children are really going to get hurt because the obesity rate is just going to get higher and higher. Play is something that is a necessity for children... who are legislators to put a price tag in play? 

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