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.

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 Quest: Discover What’s Hidden in Plain Sight

Yesterday afternoon, as the sun set quietly over the western hills of the Upper Valley and the peak temperature of 60 degrees dropped to a cool 52, I grabbed my dog and headed out the door to begin my first Valley Quest.

A Valley Quest is as enchanting as it sounds. It’s a treasure hunt for people (and dogs) of all ages, and a perfect excuse to explore the amazing places that surround us.

On the Vital Communities website I found a Quest in my hometown of Lyme. The Grant Brook Trail is an easy hike that took me around 30 minutes to complete. Like all Valley Quests, this one comes with a set of directions that lead to a treasure box hidden at the end.

After following the map, reading each clue carefully, and, admittedly, taking out my compass, I found the treasure box and signed my name in the guest book inside. Although that may have been my goal, it was what I discovered along the way that made the true impression on my day.

While I was walking to the trail head I passed a group of Lyme Elementary students playing baseball, enjoying the nice day as much as I was.

Once I got to the mossy old stonewall that was the start of the Quest, I let my dog hop over it first, obviously eager for me to reach the other side so we could continue our walk.

As we walked, I let all of the sounds piece together to form one incredible picture of the natural world. Grant Brook babbling beside the trail, birds chirping and singing, leaves crunching beneath my feet, and even the occasional gust of wind reminded me that I’m just a little part of such a large and incredible world, and what an amazing thing it is that we are able to explore it.

The Grant Brook Trail may be short in distance, but it was the perfect way to get outside and get more connected to the region that surrounds me every day.

I went to Lyme Elementary, and even though Grant Brook Trail was always nearby, it never occurred to me to explore it. That’s the great thing about Valley Quest: It helps you discover the beauty and wonder hidden in plain sight right here in the Upper Valley.

Did you know there are more than 200 Quests literally all over the 69-town Upper Valley region? Find yours today!

Mariah Lang is a summer communications intern joining Vital Communities from Roanoke College in Virginia.