How to Make a Quest

Over the past 10 years, more than 1,500 children, adults, families, scouts, students, and historical society members have contributed to the creation of more than 200 quests in and around the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

You may create a quest in your backyard for your friends and family—or you can create a quest as an offering to the greater community. Families, school groups, scout troops, museums, parks, historical societies, homeschoolers, and more have created quests for the fun and educational experience it provides. When you create a quest, you learn about a place and pass that knowledge on to the people who follow your quest.

Once you finish your quest, send it to us and we’ll put it on our website.

In addition to the simple instructions offered here, we have quest curricula to be used in a classroom.

Simple Instructions for Making Your Own Quest

  1. ChildrenMakingQuestPick a spot that is a special place for you—perhaps a unique natural or cultural feature of your town.
  2. Find out who owns or manages this property and request permission to make a quest there.
  3. Make a few trips to the site to uncover its details, and to begin to think about the best approaches to making a quest on your site.
  4. Find people in your community who can teach you more about your site—community elders, or members of your town’s historical society or conservation commission. Invite them to take a trip out on the land with you.
  5. Take good notes!
  6. Decide on your quest strategy: a detailed map quest; a map-less quest; a jumble quest (collecting words); a pict-o-quest (no words—only following pictures!); or any combination. Use your imagination and creativity—it’s up to you!
  7. Draw rough maps of your site. Also sketch or note the unique features that would make good clues.
  8. Make a rough draft of your quest map and riddles or accompanying text.
  9. Test your quest with as many different people as you can get to try it out—and make appropriate changes.
  10. Create a written description of what makes the site special. This should come from your research and should only be a few paragraphs long—small enough to be laminated and glued inside the cover of the quest box. You can focus on whatever you think visitors to the site will be most interested in. Depending on the site, possible things to write about include the historical significance of the site to the town; a true story about something that once happened at the site; the natural history of the site—trees to look for, special rocks, plantings, etc.; why people in your town love this site so much; fun or interesting things to do; and amazing-but-true trivia facts about the site (height of steeple, age of building, number of orchid species, number of granite blocks and where they came from, etc.).
  11. Draw final quest map. Here are two helpful online map making tools: Vermont Interactive Map Viewer and New Hampshire Granit Data Mapper.
  12. Design a stamp logo for the site and carve it into a plastic eraser or make a stamp out of rubber and wood.
  13. Get a waterproof box to use as a quest box. Waterproof the introduction to the site and attach it securely to the inside cover of the box. Place in the box: a log book; pencil/pen; stamp; ink pad; pencil sharpener.
  14. Hide the box.
  15. Make sure you have someone adopt the box for long-term monitoring.

If you would like your quest to be available to other Upper Valley Questers:

  1. Fill out the Valley Quest checklist and send your quest in to us. *Please note: we currently only accept Quests that are within our service area.
  1. Label the outside of the box with a waterproofed copy of the Valley Quest label, which can be picked up at the Vital Communities Office.

Quest Making Tools


Make a Stamp


Make a Book


Quest Making Book


Teaching with Quests

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Sara Cottingham

Valley Quest Coordinator

Valley Quest

 802.291.9100 x 107

Valley Quest

— Sara Cottingham, Valley Quest Coordinator

Sara holds a BA in Geography and an MS in Community & Regional Planning, both from the University of Texas at Austin. A watershed planner by trade, Sara’s inner compass is guided by a passion for rural and mountainous places. After brief stints working for state and federal agencies, Sara spent the last four years cleaning up rivers in West Virginia. Her favorite pastimes include looking at maps, making art, exploring woods and rivers, and playing old-time fiddle and banjo for contra dances. Sara also maintains a private practice as an independent grant writer for nonprofits.