Download the Valley Quest App!

The Valley Quest App for iPhones and iPads is now live!

The Valley Quest app is now officially available on the iTunes App Store.

To download the app:

  1. Go to the App Store on your iPhone or iPad and search for “Valley Quest.”
  2. Scroll down until you see the option for Valley Quest by Vital Communities with a green compass logo.screenshot-of-download-page
  3. Once you find the right app, click “Get” and then “Install.”
  4. Enter your iTunes password when prompted, and let the installation begin!


Once the installation is complete, the Valley Quest app will appear on your home screen with all your other apps. Click on the compass icon to launch the app.

It’s that easy!

The whole process can be done in a few minutes. Once the app is installed, you’re ready to go Questing!

Many thanks go to John Kotz, our app developer and longtime Valley Quest enthusiast.

We’d love your feedback on the app, so feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the app.

Happy Questing!


Help us write a Watershed Quest!

Does your local river, stream, or wetland have a story to be told?

Valley Quest is launching a special project this fall through April 2017 to write Quests focused on watersheds and flood resilience, sponsored by a grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

Through this project, we will work with school groups, watershed organizations, and interested individuals to write new watershed-themed Quests.

So what is a watershed Quest, and why should you write one?

Watershed Quests can take many forms and cover a wide range of subjects. For instance, a Quest could look at the natural aspects of a watershed such as how a river works or the habitat that rivers, streams, and wetlands provide for various animals. Or, taking a different approach, a Quest could look at how rivers shaped the development of towns and villages in the Upper Valley over time.

Other ideas for watershed Quests could include:

  • Recreation (a favorite swimming hole)
  • History (a historic mill site)
  • Flooding (a spot that was heavily impacted by Irene)

Writing a Quest is a great activity for students, watershed educators, and curious individuals who want to connect with their local river or stream. This project is a great opportunity for groups to explore a local watering hole and write a Quest with the help of the Valley Quest Coordinator!

Valley Quest is looking for groups who would like to participate in this project this fall, winter, and spring. So far we have three groups recruited to work on Quests in Chester, VT, Springfield, VT, and Brownsville, VT. We still have space for a few more groups to participate now through April 2017, so spread the word! Contact Valley Quest Coordinator Sara Cottingham to get involved, pitch an idea, or learn more about the project.

Needs some inspiration? Try the Floodplain Quest in Haverhill, NH, or the Sunapee Harbor Quest in Sunapee, NH.

Wilder’s New Quest: Olcott Falls Quest

Looking for something fun to do in Wilder? Try the new Olcott Falls Valley Quest!

This Quest was created this past spring by 7 students at Hartford High School, along with their teacher Mary Bouchard and teaching assistant Kathy Mason.

Mary Bouchard teaches history and coordinates the Regional Resource Center at Hartford High School. Mary was introduced to Valley Quest years ago through a co-worker. While she loves taking students out on Quests, she most enjoys the act of creating new Quests with her students.

Mary started using Quests as a teaching tool several years ago in order to engage students with special needs in the history all around them. Over the course of several months, Mary’s students dig into the history of their Quest site through research and interviews. This hands-on learning process culminates with the creation of a final product—a new Valley Quest.

When Mary begins a new Valley Quest project with her students, she always starts by connecting with the local historical society. “We start with people and artifacts,” Mary says. She works with officials from the historical societies to bring in old toys, sewing machines, cameras, and other objects to show her students. These artifacts prompt discussions that get her students thinking about what life was like in their town in past eras.

The exciting part for Mary’s students is meeting with people in the community who have stories to tell. “Kids connect so quickly,” she says. “They get excited talking to people and hearing about special places.” These conversations give students a window into past events and the lives of former residents.

From there, the students choose specific aspects of the town’s history they want to share and start building their Quest. They begin writing clues designed to convey the town’s rich history while also leading Questers to the hidden treasure box.

Mary’s class decided to focus on buildings, the town layout, and the paper mill in Wilder. They wrote the Quest over the course of 3 months. In addition to the Olcott Falls Quest, Mary’s classes have created the Jericho Road Quest and the Center of Town Quest, both in Hartford, Vermont.

Mary encourages other teachers to engage their students in writing a Quest. Her first piece of advice: be prepared to spend time at your site. “We spent a LOT of time in Wilder,” Mary says. In order for students to write a good Quest that captures the essence of a place, they must first experience, understand, and appreciate the place themselves. In addition, students need to have done several Quests before attempting to write one, so always budget extra time for doing other Quests into your schedule.

While writing a Quest can seem daunting, Mary is confident that—with a little time and effort—anyone can write a successful Quest. “Reach out and let other people know you’re doing a Valley Quest,” she suggests. Once people know you’re working on a Quest, they will often recommend ideas or contacts related to the subject matter.

Need help to get started? Learn more on our Valley Quest pages or contact Sara Cottingham at

Thanks to our volunteers!

Special thanks to volunteers Ted Frazer, Lois Frazer, Linda Kahl, and Misty Dumont! These avid Questers have been busy this summer checking on Quests, replacing missing Quest boxes, updating clues, and helping recruit box monitors.

These folks recently put up a new birdhouse built by Ted Frazer at the Valley Quest of White River Junction to house the treasure box. (And don’t miss our feature on Ted and his birdhouses!)


Valley Quest of WRJ

Volunteer Spotlight: Ted Frazer

Have you ever come to the end of a Valley Quest and found the treasure box hidden inside a wooden birdhouse?

Chances are that box was either built or repaired by Ted Frazer.

Ted is a woodworker who taught at Lebanon Junior High School in the shop program for 40 years. Based in Etna, New Hampshire, he currently teaches in the Dartmouth College Woodworking Workshop.

Ted and his wife Lois have been avid Valley Questers since 2001. In their free time, the couple serve as box monitors for numerous Valley Quests and are longtime volunteers with the program.

Several years ago, Vital Communities approached Ted about repairing some of the original wooden Quest boxes in Woodstock that were showing signs of age. In the years since, Ted has been our go-to volunteer for making and repairing the wooden Quest birdhouses found throughout the Upper Valley.

Ted builds these custom birdhouses in several designs. Some boxes feature a bottom panel that drops like a trap door, releasing the Quest box inside. Other birdhouses, including the more recent models, feature a special front panel that opens out to reveal a Quest box.

These birdhouses are beautiful, handcrafted treasures that enrich the Valley Quest program. Thank you, Ted, for helping make the Upper Valley a special place!


Do you have a special talent that you’d like to contribute to Valley Quest? Let us know!

Where to Buy the Best of Valley Quest Book

If you’re interested in Questing, then you have probably noticed that many of the Quests posted online are located in “The Best of Valley Quest Book.” If you don’t know what that is, Best of Valley Quest is a book containing clues to 70 of the best Quests in the Upper Valley!

It’s easy to order the Best of Valley Quest online or through phone/email, but we’re also proud to have our books for sale in several locations around the Upper Valley. If you’re out Questing one afternoon, and the Quest you want to do isn’t listed on the Valley Quest App or through our website as a pdf, then you can pick up the book in any of the following locations:

  • Dan & Whit’s in Norwich, VT
  • King Arthur Flour in White River Junction, VT
  • Main Street Books in Warner, NH
  • Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London, NH
  • Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, VT
  • The Montshire Museum in Norwich, VT
  • The Fells in Newbury, NH
  • VINS in Quechee, VT
  • Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, VT
  • Hartford Welcome Center in Hartford, VT

Once you have the book, you’ll have access to Quests that take you all over the Upper Valley. The book is as easy to use as our app and website, and includes a place for you to document stamps from each Quest you go on. Whether you’re a long time Quester, or just joining in on the fun, the Best of Valley Quest is the perfect way to enhance your Questing experience by putting clues right at your fingertips.

Calling all Questers… We need box monitors!

Imagine it’s a beautiful summer afternoon. What better time to go Questing? You and your family pick out an intriguing Quest and embark on your journey. You follow the clues one by one, and at last you find the hiding place where your treasure box awaits. Excitedly you peak inside…. and there lies the Quest box!

The Valley Quest program works behind the scenes to make sure that every Quester can experience the pleasure of solving a Quest.

It takes a great deal of manpower to ensure that each of our 200+ Quests is kept up to date with a fully-stocked treasure box at the end. As a result, we rely on volunteers like you to be our eyes and ears in the field.

We do our best to link each Valley Quest with a box monitor. A box monitor is a volunteer who “adopts” a Quest, tending to the Quest box and replenishing its materials as needed.

We have many amazing box monitors who have helped make this wonderful program what it is today. Yet we still have many unmonitored Quests that are begging to be tended!

We need your help!

Become a box monitor!


 What does it take to be a monitor?

Box monitoring is easy and requires minimal time commitment. As a box monitor, all you have to do is:

  • Put the box out by May 1 for the start of the Valley Quest season.
  • Check on the box once or twice during the summer.
  • Bring the box back indoors when the Questing season closes on November 1 and count the signatures in the sign-in book for the season.
  • Make sure it has all the proper supplies. If the box is missing any contents, you can replace them yourself or pick up extra supplies from the Valley Quest Coordinator.

That’s it!

We encourage box monitors to take ownership of their Quests, and many monitors do just that. Traditionally box monitors personalized their Quest boxes by making their own sign-in books, carving their own unique stamp for the Quest box, or adding supplementary materials telling about the history pertaining to the area around the Quest.

Your Valley Quest Coordinator is happy to help you personalize your Quest box, but it’s not required. As long as you make sure your box has the basic materials, your Quest is good to go!

What contents go in a Valley Quest box?

Each Valley Quest box contains:

  • A plastic container to keep the contents protected from the elements. Boxes should be clearly labeled as a Valley Quest box. (You can pick up a pre-made label from your Valley Quest Coordinator.)
  • A stamp and ink pad. The Valley Quest Coordinator can help you make a stamp that’s unique for your Quest.
  • A notebook and pen for Questers to sign in

The Valley Quest Coordinator will help you gather a box and all the required materials.

Bill Hill Winter 4

How do I sign up?

E-mail or call Valley Quest Coordinator Sara Cottingham at (802) 291-9107 X 107.

Tell us:

  • Your Name
  • Your phone number and e-mail address
  • The town where you live
  • Any specific interests or factors that will help us match you with a fitting Quest
How will I get matched up with a Quest?

We have Valley Quests all over the Upper Valley, so there are plenty of Quest locations to choose from!

If you already have a specific Quest in mind that you would like to monitor, just let us know! If not, we will do our best to match you to a Quest given your location and interests.

People generally prefer to monitor Quests that are located near their homes, work places, or other locations they visit frequently. Be sure to let us know what specific towns or areas would be most convenient for you to monitor.

Also, please let us know what types of Quests you would like to monitor. If you have limited mobility, we can pair you with an accessible Quest. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a physical challenge we can match you with Quests that involve hiking, biking, or canoeing.


The Next Generation of Questers in Charlestown

The best part about Valley Quest is how excited people get when they go on a Quest.

Until last week, the only Quests I had been on were with my dog. Don’t get me wrong, my dog is wonderful, but doing a Quest with kids is a totally new and great experience.

On a recent afternoon, two of my nieces and I decided to conquer the SCA Quest in Charlestown, New Hampshire.

SCA is the Student Conservation Association, which aims to connect young people to the environment and environmental stewardship through hands-on learning. The campus is beautiful and is surrounded by fields, the Connecticut River, and historical Charlestown.

The Quest itself wasn’t difficult, but being able to follow directions that are phrased as riddles correctly can certainly be a challenge. But it was a challenge we were all up for.

What was amazing was how enthusiastic my nieces were before, during, and after our Quest. My youngest niece even said, “This is better than the water park!”—and nothing says “enthusiastic” quite like that.

I had told the girls about the stamps that are located in the Valley Quest boxes that you use to stamp your Valley Quest book when you have finished the quest. I was the only one in the group with the actual Valley Quest book, and so that they would be able to keep their stamps even after the Quest, they made their own “Book of Stamps 2016.”Image-1Towards the end of the Quest, we had decidedly gotten lost. What happened was this: we got so excited to find the box that we skipped a few of the directions and got ourselves completely turned around. But because of that, we got to backtrack a little and my nieces learned a valuable lesson in working together.

We broke down every clue to try and understand exactly what each one meant. Did the “sliver of sky” mean the field? Could the archway be made from trees, people, or an actual cave?

Without giving too much about the Quest away, we eventually found our way to where the treasure was hidden—the very last clue. At this point, everyone put away the clues and decided to try and find the box themselves. But the clues are important, because we didn’t find the box until we decided to pick my phone back up and read the last clue over again (you become a beta tester on our new iPhone app by emailing Sara Cottingham).

But finding the treasure wasn’t even the super exciting part. The best part was trying to figure out how to get there in the first place. I let my nieces take charge of this Quest, leading me where they thought we should go. Their enthusiasm and determination to get there made me want to do more quests with them. Going out on a Quest with someone who is really excited to be Questing makes the experience even better than it already is.

We each signed the book located in the Valley Quest box, and both of my nieces asked if they could go on every Quest there was. It might take a while, because there are over 200 Quests throughout the Upper Valley, but I think they could do it.

Join me as I complete the Super Quest and do more quests with my favorite Questing partners. And don’t just read about my quests, take your kids, your dog, or yourself, and start Questing!

Some photos from the trail:Image-2

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Mariah Lang is a summer communications intern and Upper Valley native joining Vital Communities from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

Valley Questing in Historical Thetford

On a normal morning, I wake up after hitting snooze roughly three times, make two pieces of toast, brew a cup of coffee, and scroll drowsily through notifications on my iPhone. My thought process on most mornings is normally that I’m not ready to face the world at 8 am.

However, last week one of the notifications waiting on my phone was a reminder to begin the Super Quest. Super Quest, which is part of Valley Quest and Vital Communities, is an amazing opportunity to complete several local treasure hunts and earn points toward prizes in the process! This year’s Super Quest takes you on a self-guided journey through the Upper Valley, encouraging you to bring friends, take a hike, make public transit a part of your Quest, and even come up with your own Quest.

Even during the early morning hours, Questing still sounded like fun to me. I decided to start my Super Quest experience with Bill Hill in Thetford, Vermont. Bill Hill counts as a historical quest (2 points) because it allows visitors a sneak peak into life on a rural sheep farm in 1800s Vermont.

I imagined what the farm may have once looked like as I walked along the trail, and the old stone walls helped build the image of something quite grand. The rolling hills felt like something from a movie, and I couldn’t help but think about what Thetford must have been like in the past and wonder if it had always been this beautiful.

When I reached the top of Bill Hill, there was a stone bench, and a plaque commemorating essayist Noel Perrin’s favorite view. It was easy to see why that was a favorite view. The top of Bill Hill shows off one of the greatest little corners of Vermont, and I’m so happy that Valley Quest led me to that location.

Making my way through Upper Valley history one Quest at a time sounds like a perfect way to spend my summer. But an even better way to spend my summer will be to also incorporate learning about the local history of the civil war, architecture, or the natural world into these beautiful days. I can do all of this and more by completing the 2016 Super Quest.

The Super Quest is the perfect opportunity to stop scrolling through drowsy notifications on your phone and start getting excited about the world around you! I can’t wait to see what other exciting things happen to me while I continue my Super Quest journey.

Mariah Lang is an Upper Valley native joining Vital Communities as a summer communications intern from Roanoke College in Virginia.

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