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NY changes course on 'regs' for kickball, tag at day camps | Health

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NY changes course on 'regs' for kickball, tag at day camps
Health, Politics

ALBANY -  New York State health officials reversed course Tuesday afternoon, eliminating new guidelines that had put some local summer camps in a financial bind.    

Regulations went into effect April 1st that would classify recreation camps where kids play things like Catch the flag, Tag and even Wiffle ball to abide by the same rules as big programs like this one in Guilderland. Saying because those activities carry the risk of injury, all day camps have to have a nurse or medical professional on call and have an adult director in charge.

"They had to follow all the Department of Health guidelines and that would include staffing ratios, 1 to 10 ratios or they need to have a nurse on staff," said Karen Hennet of the YMCA in Guilderland, a larger program which is already certified.

But Lenny Ricchiuti, who runs the Albany Police Athletic League's  summer camp for many low income children, said the new rules and expenses could shut them down.

"What's going to happen is that a lot of programs are going to have to be shuttered," he said. "If we had to have a nurse on staff as opposed to the good fortune of the Albany Fire paramedics who respond anywhere in three minutes, it would be unfortunate."

Reactions like that clearly leaned on the Health Department to change course. A spokeswoman said Tuesday that the rules were approved under the previous administration.

"We are looking to do it in a more reasonable fashion, having rules that make more sense," said Claudia Hutton, "the guidance should be eliminated and has to be redone."

Program officials at the Guilderland YMCA said the regulations aim to make all summer camp safer for all children.

"It comes down to your staffing patterns your training, making sure your kids are set up in a safe environment," said Christian Engle, Vice President of Operations at the YMCA in Guilderland.

You can send your comments on the state Health Department's proposed summer day camp guidelines to dohweb@health.state.ny.us.

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