Backyard Survivor III

We held the third annual Backyard Survivor games yesterday at Bill's house. Every year the games are tweaked a little to work better, and this year was no exception. The first year we had the kids vote each other out, which caused a little ill will and defeated the purpose of keeping them active. This year, we used a point system and kept shaking up the teams. We tried to keep equivalent kids on opposite teams, but the mix of kids was different each time. Every time your team won a competition, every person on that team at the time got a point. (We also informed them that we were deducting points for whining or complaining, which at least reduced that annoyance. :D). In some ways the point system worked a lot better than our previous methods of determining the winner, but it also changed the game in some surprising ways, particularly in the food challenge (more on that later).

This year's competitors were R, J, and ML (Jan's kids); T and A (Karen's kids); NJ; D and N; K (my niece); and H (K's friend). All but H and NJ. have participated in the previous two Survivors.

We started out, as always, with creation of team flags...

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We told the kids to make a team flag but not to put their names on the flag. It was funny to listen to them start strategizing, "Oh, that's for in the merge..." "Well, maybe they're going to have us merge...". Most of the kids are fans of the REAL Survivor TV show (except Karen's freakishly lucky family...who never watches the show and has STILL won the Survivor pool two or three times...not that I'm bitter or anything. Haha) and were anticipating similar twists and turns.

Here are the finished products...

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After the flags, it was on to the first event, the Rubber Band Relay. Each team got a giant rubber band to put around their ankles. The first team member had to get from one end of the volleyball court to the other and then pass off the rubber band to the next team member. If anyone broke the rubber band, they had to go back to where they had started and get a new one. The first team to complete the relay won. We had kind of expected the kids to try to run with the rubber band, but most of them hopped instead.

The next event was the Dragon's Tail. Each team had to line up with their hands on the person in front of them. The last person had the tail tucked into their shorts. The goal was to be the first to grab the tail from the other dragon while remaining connected as a team. This challenge wasn't the most successful. We had a couple of restarts and ended up changing the rules. You can never really be sure what's going to work.

It started out so calmly...

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But soon degenerated into a rugby scrum...

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Event three was the ball toss. The teams took turns throwing balls tied up in socks over the volleyball net. The opposing team scored by catching the ball, but they could only use one hand and had to catch the ball by the sock "tail". All balls but one were worth 1 point. The other was worth 2. The first team to 15 won. This wasn't a very photogenic event.

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The fourth event, the blindfold bottle hunt, iss a favorite, and the only event besides the food challenge to be featured in all three of our Survivors so far. All but one person on each team is blindfolded. The seeing person is the caller and has to direct his teammates to find all of their team's bottles in the volleyball court. One team had both Nathans for this event, and it ended up being a serious disadvantage. Nathan J. dropped 3 or 4 of his team's bottles after the caller told the other Nathan to drop one. We have both pictures AND video for this one (I know, I can hardly wait. Haha).

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The next event was another relay. Each team had to carry 30 golf balls halfway across the court on a paddle and drop them into a bucket. The first team to move all of their golf balls won. It was interesting to watch the kids strategize on this one. Some of them tried to carry more than one golf ball, but it was next to impossible. It was also fun to watch them grow in confidence as they got better at balancing the balls.

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At this point, we had the kids paint their faces while we prepared the dreaded FOOD CHALLENGE. They really got into painting their faces and did a good job.

The food challenge is one of the most fun to watch for the adults, but it gets harder and harder to find something gross for the kids to eat at the grocery store. There's a fine line between really grossing them out and challenging them and just wasting your money on stuff that no one will eat. This year's food items were guacamole, sardines, club soda, "eyeballs" (baby onions), and squash baby food.

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Jeff had to come and dish up the sardines for me. They smelled awful. Ugh.

As I mentioned above, the food challenge was one area where the point system affected the game in a surprising way. In the past, almost all of the kids have really stepped up to the plate and eaten some pretty nasty things in order to help their team win the challenge (in the interests of full disclosure, I'll admit that my kids are the only ones who've been unable to complete their part of the food challenge, Daniel in the first year and Nathan last year. And I'll further admit that I probably couldn't do it, either.). This year, when they scored a point for themselves for each food they successfully ate in a minute, only a few of the kids scored all of their points. Here's the standings:

  • Ryan L.--4*
  • Daniel--2
  • Josh--1
  • Heidi--4*
  • Kelsea--3*
  • Nathan H.--0 (can you believe that???? Nothing.)
  • Megan--0
  • Taylor--5
  • Nathan J.--3
  • Adam--5
*The vegetarians refused to eat the sardines on moral grounds. :)
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The next event was an individual tug-of-war while standing on an unstable platform. Best two out of three won.
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A new event this year may just be a classic in the making. This was yet another relay, with a twist. The teams were given a zipped bag. The first runners had to open the bag, put on one item of clothing, and then run to the next team member and hand off the bag and clothing item. That team member had to put on the item of clothing and add another from the bag before running to the next person. And so on, until the last person was wearing a stocking cap, a swim mask, a towel wrapped around the waist, a life jacket, and flippers. We got a few pictures and some (really bad, I admit it) video.
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Sorry this video is so bad. The race was hilarious, though, and I hope that comes through.

The last event we did was another one of those that just doesn't quite work out. It was a pie-throwing competition, and the idea was to score throws from 0-5. It turned out just that points went to the player who got the best hit. And the kids had fun throwing "pies" at each other (paper plates full of whipped cream).
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After that last event, we had to end the official games since Karen and family had another family commitment. All of the kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and they weren't even that worried about who had "won" overall. For the record, Ryan and Taylor tied for the win, followed by Heidi and Taylor, who were 1/2 point behind.


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