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NY State Health Officials Back Down On 'Micromanagement' Of Summer Camp

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Red rover, red rover, don't even think about coming over.  That was the message delivered by some New York state bureaucrats after a Health Department list of summer camp restrictions was released Tuesday morning before they eventually backed off.

Childrens' games, such as Wiffle Ball, kickball, dodgeball, freeze tag and even some arts and crafts were said to pose a "significant risk of injury."

Twelve-year-old Glen talked to CBS 2's Cindy Hsu and took issue with Wiffle Ball and arts and crafts being on the list.  He said "it's not more than likely that you would get hurt" from those activities.

The list was part of a new law that said any summer programs that included at least one of aforementioned "risky" games would now be considered a summer day camp.  That distinction would require them to follow certain state regulations and fees.

However, after the list went public and outcry followed, the New York State Health Department pulled back saying the rules were implemented under the previous administration of Gov. David Paterson.

"After a review spurred by a lawmaker's questions Friday and subsequent news reports, they've been judged too detailed and amount to micromanagement," a statement read.

1010 WINS' John Montone with a couple of grown-ups who survived childhood


Before the Health Department's change of tune on Tuesday, many adults scoffed at the idea, saying they made it through childhood in one piece.

A man from Bensonhurst told 1010 WINS' John Montone when he was a child everybody played Wiffle Ball. "It's a harmless game, it's a piece of plastic," he said. "It's not going to do that much damage."

"We played everything. Nobody got hurt significantly at all," another man said. "The people today are cry babies about everything."

Lawmakers said a loophole had previously allowed indoor programs to operate without oversight.

WCBS 880's Sean Adams with Adam Langbart, president of the New York Camp Directors Association


Adam Langbart, president of the New York Camp Directors Association, thinks indoor programs should be subjected to the same rules as outdoor ones.

"There really shouldn't be a difference. You're operating a camp, you're operating a camp, whether a camp is in a gymnasium or out in a field," Langbart told WCBS 880's Sean Adams.

Langbart says those who are protesting miss the point: "People are dissecting the law and dissecting the rules and regulations and basically taking things out of context. You gotta look at the big picture and not just say, 'Oh. The state wants to regulate Wiffle Ball.' They don't."

He said what the state is really concerned about is "that the camp is performing background checks, that the camp is screening their staff through the New York State sex offender registry, that the camp has a proper staff-to-child ratio – in not just counselors, but CPR and first aid."

For now, the new adminstration of Governor Andrew Cuomo will get an in-depth look at camp rules. A spokesperson said any changes deemed necessary would come this summer.

Do you think these games are dangerous and potentially deadly? Sound off below

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