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Backyard Game of the Year Contest Basics

CLIF Kids’ 3rd Annual Backyard Game of the Year is a nationwide contest. Individual kids between the ages of 6-12 may enter the contest with a game they invent. The game doesn’t have to be fancy, or use special equipment, it just has to be fun, creative, active and played outside. Stacy Tornio, co-author of the book The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up and one of this year’s judges, notes, “Kids exercise their creativity using tablets and mobile phones every day. Wouldn’t it also be great if we helped them explore their imaginations in nature? Encouraging kids to play outside is a fun and healthy way for them to build valuable skills that they will use into adulthood.”

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Individual & Group Categories

In past years, only individual kids have been invited to enter this contest. This year however, there’s a brand new group category that encourages any U.S.-based group that works with kids to submit a new backyard game idea. Groups can include school classrooms, sports teams, clubs, organizations, non-profits and others, but at least two kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years must be involved with designing the game idea to qualify. This new category is meant to promote teamwork and community and groups will be competing for the chance to win donation money to the non-profit of their choice that supports kids’ health and well-being. As in previous years, the individual kid category is specifically designed to allow individual kids to create a backyard game and compete for prizes. This individual category is focused on helping kids ignite their creativity, and will award kids with scholarships to promote their continued exploration and growth.


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The Amazing Prizes

Five individual kid finalists will be chosen to present their games in San Diego at the 2013 CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year Playoffs in July. The individual finalists will present their games to the public and a winner will be selected by Playoffs Judges Tornio, Keffer and a special guest celebrity. The individual grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and the four runners-up will each win a $1,000 scholarship. All five kids will also receive a bike from Specialized Bicycles and a Bell helmet. Select group finalists will win a trip to San Diego to showcase their games at the 2013 CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year Playoffs, and those who enter the group category will have the opportunity to win a $15,000 donation to the non-profit of their choice. In addition, CLIF Kid will donate $2,000 to a like non-profit chosen by each of the two runners-up.

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Last Year’s Winning Game: North Pole South Pole

The 2012 grand prize winner was 7-year-old Abigail from Albany, Oregon. Abigail invented a fun game called North Pole South Pole in which all the players get to pretend to be persistent, racing penguins.

Gather: 4 Hula hoops, 2 potato sacks or pillowcases, 50 to 100 water balloons (depending on how many kids are playing). Each team should have at least two kids, but as many more kids as you like can be on each team.

How to play: Place two hula hoops at one end of the yard, about five feet apart to act as home bases for the North Pole and South Pole teams. On the other side of the yard, place the other two hula hoops to act as the “fishing holes” for each team. Place 25 to 50 water balloons in each fishing hole. Give each team a pillowcase and start the game. The object, as soon as someone shouts, “Go!” is that one team member from each team steps into his or her pillowcase and hops as fast as possible to the team fishing hole. Once there, the team member should gather up as many fish as she can, without letting the pillowcase fall to the ground. Then the team member needs to hop quickly back to her home base without letting her fish, or the pillowcase, fall. Once home, the team member places all their fish in the home base circle. Then the first Penguin team member gives the pillowcase to the second Penguin, who sets off for the fishing hole. The game ends when one team empties their fishing hole and all their team members are at home base. The team that wins is the one with the most fish in their home base at the end of the game. Download full game instructions (pdf).

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How to Enter

Backyard game ideas can be submitted today through June 17, 2013 at CLIF Kid Backyard Game’s website. Each game entered can utilize common household items such as balls, hula hoops, beanbags and, most importantly, kids’ imaginations. Three group finalists will be announced on the CLIF Kid Facebook page in late June, where the public will have a chance to vote with “Likes” for their favorite game idea. CLIF Kid will send group grand prize winner representatives to San Diego in July to present their game at the Playoffs. Following the Playoffs, CLIF Kid will post the rules from all finalist games online. And in recognition of their efforts to reconnect kids with nature, Children & Nature Network will receive a donation for the third year in a row, to support their continued work with a national network of educators, researchers and community leaders. See all the official entry rules here.

All images courtesy of CLIF Kids