Elf Island GoodQuest: Stimulus Package That Helps Polar Bears!

pbi-elf-islandMar. 2, 2009 Talk about a two-fer: A great deal AND a great cause!

Elf Island has put forth a brilliant triple-play “stimulus package” where kids can have fun gaming, help REAL nonprofits make a difference in the world and LEARN about climate change to boot.  Wow. A healthy media venue with no ads, a safe tween hub, and a philanthropic mindfulness message for a $27.95 annual fee? I’m in. (polar bears are just one of their many GoodQuests I’m wild about)

If I’m doing the math right, for a limited time (30 day window starting tomorrow, March 3rd) before their official full launch April 1st, Elf Island is offering their premium pass for pennies. For $2.33 a month (less than a cuppa coffee!) kids can help REAL polar bears in the Arctic by tracking virtual ones online, educating themselves about ice floes and planet sustainability via Polar Bears International. (new polar bear GoodQuest begins Thursday)

Why does this matter in the bigger media lens? Consider this…

As profits and people flail amidst tough economic times, guess which industry is going gangbusters? Media. Nielsen’s 4Q Three Screen report shows American media habits hit an all-time high of 151 hours per month (ugh! winter chill? election coverage?)Now more than ever, content is key as folks hunker down in value mode for cheap entertainment via TV, internet, and mobile…

Many of us PREFER the online subscription model ‘premium content’ where kids are NOT subjected to a plethora of ‘buy, buy baby’ scads of ads and pummeled with vapid values in pop-up windows…

elf-island-logoI’m cautiously optimistic that the demand for the bar to be raised in media offerings is getting traction…

Healthier offerings ARE showing up on the horizon (trumpet, please!)…

From Ted Turner’s eco-heroes, Captain Planet & the Planeteers making a comeback on the Mother Nature Network (yes there IS such a thing) to new finds in  movies via Cannes for Kids (New York Times article here) media self-replicates when embraced in formulaic me too-ism. (thus, ‘what sells’ determines our fate, n’est ce pas?)

The onus is on consumers to scream loudly with preferences in both media AND marketing to be heard above the din of industry billions. (see my Dora post and esteemed colleagues’ ‘no makeover’ petition)

So how do cool ventures like Elf Island’s GoodQuests gain eyeballs in a down economy? (great NEW VIDEO on their Facebook fan page to give you an idea of the Polar Bear Quest launching!)

It’s HARD to jumpstart a new subscription model when kids are used to having content for free (just ask Rebecca Newton blogging about  the Moshi Monsters virtual pet premiums for an inside look at kid-mob mentality) but I firmly believe a subscription model is one media savvy parents should and COULD embrace.


Parents need to pay attention to what’s out there in a cost-benefit analysis, because most of those ‘freebies’ are certainly not free.

Plopping subscription models on the parental radar as an ‘entertainment channel’ is the first and foremost priority to begin with, since most folks are driven in pester-power upsell initiated by the child. (which in many cases, defaults to the Webkinz world of pay for play, or whatever kid-du jour shiny penny is abuzz on the playground)

“But…it’s FREE”…Right?! Ahem.

Again, I’d argue ‘free platforms’ (including TV) can mine souls and spending dollars far faster than you’d imagine while embedding lifelong consumption cues with cross-promotional tie-ins…(that ‘freebie’ is gonna cost you…bank on it)

That said, virtual worlds like Dizzywood with its daily collaborative quests, Zookazoo and Elf Island STILL allow kids to play free, chat, collaborate and such, but adding robust content and cool features needs to be paid for somehow, so subscription models make perfect sense…


Elf Island is one of several subscription model virtual worlds doing their fee-based rollout right…

Extending the premise of gaming for good with “40% off the annual fee” (already a bargain to begin with) a family add-on option for ten bucks, and a 30 day countdown clock to snag the deal, adding urgency to the mix is frankly, brilliant marketing.

Worthy content, family ‘bulk buy’ value proposition, a rich interface of creative challenge and learning fun, PLUS making a difference in the REAL world? What’s not to like?

Okay…okay…the “Get ‘em outside” contingent of NCLI Coalition members like me is a given…

Be clear, I’m not arguing that free fun outdoors is not preferable…

I’m simply focusing on the media that’s out there and the ways to utilize online to offline bridges as a WAY to GET kids outdoors sharing nature.

Besides, the days of free ice-hockey and frozen-over ponds seems very rural and almost quaint for those of us who have to shell out big bucks just to go around in circles in a rink in suburban environs…


There are countless um, “unusual” ways to convey meaningful messages…like this one at left which had me laughing and crying at the same time.

(Read the hilarious family prank story on Lindsay Fincher’s blog about her parents’ making a rather, er, emphatically strident holiday statement…Clearly, kids don’t have a corner on the market in the eco-realm…Plenty of mama bwanas like me out there who could hang with those parents quite well! Funny, funny family antics akin to the polarity in my own family, pardon the pun)

From Facebook applications of virtual polar bear pets to take care of (er, Lindsay, tell your parents, it’s via World Wildlife Fund) to Polar Bears Rock (games) Polar Bear kids’ books (this one’s by Dr. Tim Foresman, one of my NextNow Collaboratory colleagues) and even Polar Bear Nation cause-wear created by triplet teens, there are no shortage of people concerned about the plight of the planet…

It inspires me to think that COLLABORATING with media and marketing positivity could be a win-win for content messaging and education universally using subscription models like these as revenue generating drivers to help us all.

I’m writing a full feature about other worthy kids’ communities putting forth the ‘why to buy’ of subscription models, so would love for others to share their own media experiences of bridging the ‘free to financed’ revenue leap…as I sure have my own thoughts on this.

Sifaka World? (new virtual world for wildlife preservation) Green.com (good stuff in beta, with cool cause partners) New Moon Girl Media? Minyanland? Dizzywood? Zookazoo? Izzy Neis, analysis please?

How are YOU folks faring in the subscription model format?

As I wrote before,

“I’ve always wondered why Club Penguin didn’t do something more productive with all those igloos and ice using a solid global warming storyline and cool online/offline partnership bridge for substantive eco-efforts. Sure beats flapping around in tuxedos with blinged out avatars buying needless tchotchkes…The Polar Bear Nation teens could infiltrate Club Penguin with branded ‘PBN/PBI gear’ and factoids applied to cool social media badges and widgets that could travel to other virtual worlds raising awareness and educating kids about global warming.

Dizzywood, Zookazoo, Habbo’s eco-group, through Imbee/National Geographic Kids…even Panwapa and the tropical/arctic juxtaposition via Hulala Girls green gaming perhaps?”

There are tons of ways to incorporate stellar social social responsibility into entertaining media channels…

How can we help out to make it more successful?

Please chime in, I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts…

Seems the various $4-7 monthly ranges for most of the “premium access” sites are still less than ONE movie ticket instead yielding a whole MONTH of entertainment…

So why haven’t parents put that value on their radar?

logo-on-tvIt’s one of the best values around, FAR preferable to the consumption junction cross-platform ‘spend’ spilling from commercial sites hawking goods (WebKinz, etc.) and advergames which are anything but ‘free’ when you factor in the  back side of cost analysis in its various social and economic forms.

After all, TV is ‘free’ (with cable subscription, commercials, FCC airwave content erosion, yadayada) but look at what’s being served up 24/7 on the ‘influencing’ channels…

I’m not being glib. Just sayin’…

If “you get what you pay for” is a quality cue, then Elf Island and the other online kids’ entertainment communities with premium content subscription models are a screamin’ deal!

Sound off…what works for you?

What media do you ‘buy into’ and at what cost to kids? Do tell…

Elf Island Stimulus Plan Details At A Glance (see blog)

Through the month of March, while they’re in beta, everything remains the same. When they officially launch, April 1st, the GoodQuests and cool content that I personally love will go behind a ‘premium content’ subscriber wall for a monthly $5.95 fee, which seems to be the going rate plus or minus on both ends of the $4-7 bracket.

Here are details of membership prior to April 1st launch:

Elf Island March 3-31 Stimulus Pricing $2-$3/per  mo:

$27.95 a year ($2.33/mo)

$17.95 for 6 months ($2.99/mo)

Add an additional Family Member or Account for $10 (up to 4 accounts)

Deferred credit card payment until March 31st.

After April 1st, pricing will revert to the monthly fee of $5.95/mo, which still means for under $6 there’s plenty of entertainment and learning value there…

And no, I’m not stumpin’ for them…No financial interest here other than I’ve said before that I love the platform and am planning on doing some research inside their world…So there ya have it.

Any other cool subscription models that value collaborative play and learning, please send ’em my way…

Polar Bear/Global Warming Resources & Fun Finds

The Last Little Polar Bear (a global change adventure story)

Bear Facts: Polar Bears International

Polar Bear Nation (cause-clothing)

Polar Bears As Threatened Species (ratification)

Kids National Geographic: Polar Bear E-Cards, Facts & Photos

Polar Bears & Global Warming: National Wildlife Federation

Environmental Defense Fund, Calculate Your Personal Impact

Polar Bear Cam: LiveStreaming Video, National Geographic

National Polar Bear Plunge: Keep Winter Cold

Eco-Friendly Line of Kids Books (School Library Journal)

Green Daily: Polar Bears vs. Poor People (heads up, bear lovers!)

Eco Kids’ Eco-Field Guide/Polar Bear coloring sheets

Sea World Education Dept. Resources: Polar Bear Fun (love this swimming fellow!)

Wild Arctic Fun Guide: (SeaWorld Fun Zone of polar bear mazes, puzzles, games)

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report

Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council

Habbo Teen Greenpeace Survey on Global Warming

Inspire Kids With Green Media: Kid Vid & Games Galore

Earth Party



  1. Wanted to share this written by a teen who attended the PBI program in the Arctic…Sent via another favorite org of mine, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots youth team…The writer bio about Erica is below…She’s from Oregon.

    Standing On Top of the World: My Arctic Adventure

    Polar Bear mom and cubsBy: Erica W., Roots & Shoots Member Portland, Oregon

    “Many teenagers dream about visiting far off lands and having the adventure of a lifetime. Thanks to the Oregon Zoo and Polar Bears International I am one such lucky high school student, for I have had an incredible, life-altering experience that all began with a love for the Arctic.

    This past October I attended a week-long leadership camp in Churchill, Canada, on the western shore of Hudson Bay, run by Polar Bears International. Founded in 1992 by world-renowned photographer Dan Guravich, PBI is a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation through research and education, specifically for polar bears.

    Along with 15 other teens from around the United States and Canada, I learned what it takes to be an effective, passionate leader in my community and I had the chance to observe wild polar bears at close range. Through this observation, I witnessed the impact of climate change on the polar bears’ habitat. Rising temperatures melt the Arctic sea ice that the bears desperately need; without ice, polar bears cannot hunt, breed or den.

    I am an active Roots & Shoots member in the Leadership Corps at the Oregon Zoo as a ZooTeen volunteer and I’ve always been passionate in protecting our environment. Listening to the previous Ambassador speak about her trip, I knew that this was something I wanted to do. When I was selected to become this year’s Arctic Ambassador, I literally couldn’t breathe for a moment. Then the realization sunk in: I was going to the Arctic!

    My adventure began in Winnipeg, where the teenage attendees and adult facilitators got to know one another. Early the next morning we were off to Churchill. Small yet interesting, Churchill held a lot of surprises for us; Hudson Bay in particular was a beautiful sight. It was a poignant moment, to see the water lapping against the shore of Hudson Bay, knowing that it ought to be frozen solid and covered with snow at this time of year.

    Then came the pivotal moment of our day: our first polar bear sighting! To top it off, we saw not one, but two adult male polar bears, only a few miles outside of Churchill. Even now, I cannot express into words how amazing that moment was. I know that the entrancing sight of the bears lumbering gracefully across the tundra will be in my mind’s eye for the rest of my life.

    the Tundra Buggy LodgeWe boarded Buggy 16—a large, bus-like vehicle 10 feet off the ground—and began our two hour drive to the Tundra Buggy Lodge. During our drive, we spotted wildlife few other people have ever seen in the wild: a mother polar bear and her two cubs, Arctic hares, Ptarmigans, a Bald Eagle and a Snowy Owl. We were ecstatic by the time we reached our home: the Tundra Buggy Lodge, a stationary train-car set 10 feet from the ground.

    The next five days followed a general pattern, though it never got old or tedious. Every discussion forced us to examine each side of the issue; presentations ranged from information on ring seals (the polar bear’s preferred food choice), to captive management of polar bears, to giving a good presentation.

    In addition to our daily work, we had distinct memorable moments as well. We celebrated Canada’s Thanksgiving, met three native trappers, and took a helicopter tour over the tundra to visit an abandoned maternal den site. One special Sunday, a male polar bear—that we dubbed Bob—came to visit, and stayed with us until the day we left. Wednesday was our last day on the tundra; waking up to that final Arctic sunrise was almost unbearable, knowing that in a few short hours we were leaving our beloved lodge for the real world. And on Thursday, after many tears and goodbye’s, a fellow Ambassador and I had the chance to visit Debby, the oldest polar bear on record, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg; a fitting end to a whirlwind week.

    Dr. Jane Goodall wrote in her novel Reason for Hope, “The planet’s resources are running out. And so if we truly care about the future of our planet we must stop leaving it to “them” out there to solve all the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me.” The simple, easy things that each of us can do at home may seem inconsequential, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the polar bears won’t be saved in one day either.

    While politicians deal with the legal protection of our environment, you can take action on your own. Recycling, purchasing reusable and recycled products, turning off your power strip when not in use, changing light bulbs to CFL’s and LED’s and using public transportation more often are all examples of how you, the individual, can change the world, without turning your life upside down. And not only will you be helping your planet, you’ll also be helping yourself by saving time, money and energy.

    But it’s up to you. You have to make that decision. I am ready to make that choice, rise to the challenge, and be the change the polar bears so desperately need.

    The question is, are you?”

    About Erica W.
    Erica is a long-time Oregon Roots & Shoots member. Passionate about animals, Erica volunteers at the Oregon Zoo with the Leadership Corps and as a Zoo Teen. This was Erica’s first trip to the Arctic; she hopes it won’t be her last!

    Amy Jussel’s last blog post..A Picture Is Worth…A Free Cure For Lackus Appreciatis

  2. i always buy recycled products to reduce the waste materials on this planet.*,-

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