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Editorial: We'll play at our own risk, thank you!

File this in the "what were they thinking" folder. It seldom fails that when bureaucrats over-think something, bad ideas seep out. That was the case earlier this month after the state Health Department aired its intent to regulate the games children play.

It was adios, Red Rover. Take off, Capture the Flag. Beat it, kick ball. The state determined through an unknown process that these perennially played games as well as whiffle ball needed to be reined in before someone got hurt.

The proposed regulations targeted so-called "day camps," which are typically operated as summer youth programs by local municipalities. The department expanded the definition for a children's day camp to regulate "nonpassive recreational activities with significant risk of injury."

If a program included at least one NPRASRI it would be regulated as a children's day camp. With that bureaucratic oversight, summer programs would be forced to pay for a permit and add on site medical supervision of activities.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) quickly threw a spotlight on this latest government intrusion, which was followed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's slap down of the department.

"Summer recreation programs run on very limited budgets, but provide great opportunities for children," Senator Ritchie said in her letter to the state health commissioner. "The additional state mandated expenditure for medical staff, record keeping and permit fees without ample time to put a plan in place will very likely put an end to these programs."

Added to that are the unintended consequences of such regulation. At a time when the incidence of childhood obesity is being decried, the state health department is crafting supercilious regulations that encourage sedentary recreation.

Ritchie gets credit for spotting this intrusion. The state health department quickly dropped the regulations as the effort attracted scorn at a national level. The state Health Department should let kids be kids and pursue more substantial issues, such as finding a solution for the spiraling costs of NYS's Medicaid system.

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