Are Red Rover, Kick Ball and Freeze Tag Risky Summer Camp Business?

Filed under: In The News, Activities: Big Kids

summer camps

Summer camps are under new regulation by New York State. Credit: Corbis

Summer camp is a rite of passage for many young children. It's a place where thrill-seeking kids shoot bows and arrows, go fishing, milk goats, water ski, sleep in rustic cabins and play their hearts out with their peers.

But New York state bureaucrats are putting the freeze on summer camp staples like freeze tag, saying it and other age-old games such as Red Rover, kick ball, Wiffle ball and dodge ball pose "significant risk of injury" for youngsters, the New York Daily News reports.

Under the new rules, any summer program that offers two or more organized activities -- with at least one on the risky list -- is deemed a "summer camp" and subject to state regulation that includes requiring a $200 registration fee and providing an on-site medical staff.

"That's ridiculous, why even go to camp?" Kathie Lee Gifford, a mom of two teens, says on this morning's "Kathie Lee & Hoda Show."

"Sure archery may be a little dangerous, and scuba diving has its risks, but freeze tag, come on really," Hoda Kotb adds.

The talk show hosts' reaction underscores the collective cries of outrage from parents and summer camp supporters who are questioning these measures.

"Yes, of course, all contact sport has a certain risk, it's called life," Marinka, who prefers to keep her last name private, the author of the blog Motherhood in NYC, tells ParentDish. "I'm not one of those 'back in my day' lunatics who don't think that we need seat belts, and I'm all for safety, but I hate the idea of legislating common sense."

Kimberly Baxter, 27, a medical assistant from South Ozone Park, Queens, tells the Daily News she played freeze tag with abandon as a youngster.

"I never got hurt, maybe scraped my knee once in a while, but that was it," the mom to a 1-year-old girl tells the newspaper.

Some parents, including Gifford, say the new restrictions are simply a way to collect more money from parents.

"They're terrified of being sued and this is a way to tag on more fees from parents," Gifford says on her show.

These comments reveal just how defining summer camp experiences can be. Which is why it is disconcerting to some parents -- and even some of the state bureaucrats themselves -- that laws are being put in place to outlaw free play.

"It looks like Albany bureaucrats are looking for kids to just sit in a corner in a house all day and not be outside," state Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-St. Lawrence County), tells the Daily News. "I don't think Wiffle ball is a dangerous sport."

The New York Camp Directors Association, however, backs the rules, and Health Department spokeswoman Diane Mathis said the list of risky activities was crafted with help from camp groups.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.