Over $15,000 In Prizes Awarded At The Great Park Pursuit 2008 Finale

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4 girls in a rescue jeepFamilies Complete Connecticut Department of Environmental Protections’ Seven-Week Outdoor Adventure at Peoples’ State Forest

After visiting six different parks and forests throughout the state as part of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Great Park Pursuit adventure – which was back for a third year of play – over 170 families converged at Peoples’ State Forest in Barkhamsted on Saturday, June 21, to partake in the seventh and final event in the multi-week game. Three families emerged as grand prize winners, receiving valuable outdoor equipment packages provided by North Cove Outfitters of Old Saybrook and L.L.Bean. All teams in attendance received parting gifts. The value of prizes awarded totaled over $15,000.

The Minervino family of Higganum (a.k.a. team “Daddy’s Girls”) walked away as the top prize winners, taking home the “water excursion” package from North Cove Outfitters with the winner’s choice of either a kayak or canoe package that included paddles, life jackets, as well as a car top roof rack system. Runners up included the Giannelli family of Andover (a.k.a. team “SageGavin”), who took home a camping package from L.L.Bean complete with tents, sleeping bags and outdoor cooking gear, and the Donner family of East Haddam (a.k.a. “The Donner Party” team), who won a bicycle package from L.L.Bean that included helmets and accessory packs.

The winning families were among more than 900 teams from across the state that signed-up to participate in the game, which kicked off on May 10 at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. The game is part of No Child Left InsideSM – a statewide initiative launched in 2006 by Governor M. Jodi Rell aimed at raising awareness for the State Parks and Forests and building enthusiasm for the outdoors among children.

“The Great Park Pursuit has been extremely successful each year, and we were pleased to offer the adventure for Connecticut families to enjoy again in 2008,” said DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy. “We are continuously delighted and encouraged by the tremendous response to this game. Our goal is to get more children and families to our State Parks and Forests to enjoy the beauty, history, recreational and educational opportunities they offer. Families responded by accepting The Great Park Pursuit challenge, allowing them to experience our State Parks and Forests and their many resources first hand.”

In fact, 170 families attended all parks on the game schedule – where they enjoyed a variety of fun and educational activities – and were qualified as semifinalists for a chance to win outdoor equipment packages.

At Peoples’ State Forest, the semifinalists were required to take a short quiz on The Great Park Pursuit 2008, which tested teams on the parks they had visited. The top 30 scorers then moved on to a final toy boat race competition, where teams created boats from buoys and other crafts and launched them down the Farmington River. The three teams whose boats crossed the finish line first were deemed the 2008 grand prize winners. All semifinalists received backpacks from North Cove Outfitters filled with hiking gear including water bottles and first aid kits, while all families attending the final event received Wind-N-Go flashlights from L.L.Bean and $10 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificates as prizes for their participation.

Following the event, the DEP hosted an optional campout that numerous families joined, many who had never stayed in the great outdoors overnight before. With campfire songs, astronomy programs, and of course, s’mores treats, the campout had plenty to offer.

“The event at Peoples’ State Forest was the perfect way to wrap up this exciting game,” said Commissioner McCarthy. “Every step of this journey has allowed participating families to experience our State Parks and Forests and their many resources first hand.”

During The Great Park Pursuit 2008, Connecticut families decoded clues and journeyed to different State Parks, Forests and Recreation Areas over a seven-week period. At each location, teams were asked to complete various activities such as scavenger hunts, hikes, fishing contests and more. At the end of each task, families received a clue to the following week’s park or forest.

Registered families also had the opportunity to create their own personal family page on the campaign web site, www.NoChildLeftInside.org  Many teams posted photos and comments to track their game progress.

The No Child Left InsideSM campaign was created by the DEP to raise awareness for the recreational activities available at the state’s 138 State Parks and Forests, attract families to the parks and build enthusiasm for the outdoors among children. The Great Park Pursuit 2008, The Connecticut State Parks Family Adventure was executed by the DEP with support from the Friends of Connecticut State Parks, Connecticut Forest and Park Association, WFSB-TV/3, North Cove Outfitters, L.L.Bean, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Aquarion Water Company, Dermatone Laboratories, Crystal Rock Waters and Connecticut Defenders. For more information, visit www.NoChildLeftInside.org