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

Image (2)

Image-1 (1)


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