New York Backs Off Rules On Risky Kids Games

Apr 20, 2011

It's hard to be a kid these days.

There are so many risks — from creeps on the Internet to calorie overload from junk food. But are wiffleball, kickball and tetherball really so dangerous?

Well, the New York State Department of Health seemed to think so. It put those games and some other summer mainstays on a list of activities that could push many kids' summer recreation programs into classification as camps, which are subject to state regulation. Now, though, after objections, the state is reconsidering.

Our pals over at the Two-Way wrote about this yesterday, and today I dug around and found some letters about the change. The PDF was a little flaky, but I could read them with Google Quick View.

I learned something new in the process. The bureaucratic term of art here is "nonpassive recreational activities with a significant risk of injury," or NPRASRI. If a program has at least two organized group activities and one of them is an NPRASRI, then the program would have been treated as a summer day camp.

How the health officials came up with the risk assessments is a real head-scratcher. Bocce, tug of war and sack races were classified as activities with no significant risk. Horseshoes, capture the flag and "tag (all varieties)" are risky.

I don't know about you, but, given the choice, I'd rather have someone drop a horseshoe on my foot than a bocce ball. And don't get me started on the hazards of sack races.

Anyway, the requirements were trotted out to improve oversight of camps in the wake of a 2009 law. But the Health Department is going back to the drawing board.

Spokeswoman Claudia Hutton told New York's Daily News, "We are coming up with a new list and we are going to do it in a more sensible fashion." That task should be done next month. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit