Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Kahl and Lois Frazer

Valley Quest is often thought of as a family-oriented program. With educational treasure hunts of varying length, difficulty, and physical intensity, the program offers Quests that engage every interest and age group.

For some, Questing is a family affair, and the Kahl and Frazer families set the bar high.

Sisters Lois Frazer of Etna and Linda Kahl of Hartford were introduced to Valley Quest in 2001. They’ve been Questing ever since, bringing along their husbands, children, grandchildren, mother, and even their younger sister Lana.

Frazer and Kahl’s shared enthusiasm for Valley Quest is contagious. Last summer alone the sisters completed over 80 Quests. They each monitor approximately 20 Quests throughout the Upper Valley.

As lifelong Upper Valley residents, Frazer and Kahl love to learn about the history of towns throughout the region.

They grew up in Strafford, VT, where their father was the last caretaker at the copper mine.

“Back then in Strafford, you either were a farmer or you worked in the mine,” says Frazer. With multiple generations of family hailing from Strafford, Kahl notes, “we’re related to all the people in the cemetery there!”

Even with their deep local ties, Kahl and Frazer love learning new things about the Upper Valley through Questing. “We’ve been to all these tiny towns we never knew existed and learned all about the history of all of Vermont,” says Kahl.

“I like learning about a new town, and Questing gets me to go investigate a new place,” says Frazer. Kahl added, “We’ve learned about so many places that we’d never gone before.”

Kahl and Frazer spread the word about Valley Quest at every opportunity. “We’ve taken our kids, and they’ve taken their kids,” says Kahl. “I’ve given both neighbors books, and they’ve gone on Quests.”

“Everywhere I go, I tell people about Valley Quest,” says Frazer. “It doesn’t cost anything but the gas, and there are not many things in this world that don’t cost anything.”

In addition to checking on their collective 40 Quests and volunteering to update clues for other Quests, the sisters complete about 20 other Quests each year. There are still a few Quests that they have not yet been on, but that number gets smaller every year.

Their next Questing challenge? “I haven’t tried to write one myself yet, but I’m excited to take the Quest writing workshop with Steve Glazer,” says Kahl, who has ideas brewing for a new Quest in Strafford.

Kahl and Frazer’s Favorite Quests:

  • Mountain Maple Quest in Norwich
  • Town House Quest in Strafford
  • Flat Rock Quest in Orford. “It’s just such a lovely place,” says Frazer.
  • Porter Cemetery Quest and Beale Cemetery Quest in Lyme. “I could sit [at the Porter Cemetery] all day overlooking the Connecticut” Says Frazer, “and we discovered the most amazing field of ladyslippers at Beal. We never would have gone there otherwise.”
  • Four Corners Quest in Croydon, NH. “It’s so quiet and so beautiful to get there,” says Kahl.
  • The Woodstock Quests. “Because it’s fun to tromp around Woodstock. There are so many of them, and they all have stories to tell.”

Intern Spotlight: Carrie Borowy

Every summer Valley Quest recruits an intern to help us monitor our 170+ Quests. Carrie Borowy joined us in March as our spring and summer Valley Quest intern for 2017.

Carrie dove into the Valley Quest program headfirst in March. She helped write the new Farm-Way Quest as well as an upcoming Quest made with the 5th graders at the Union Street School in Springfield, VT. She helped get the 2017 Super Quest and other Valley Quest promotional materials distributed for the start of the season. Now that summer is on its way, you’ll most likely find her out checking and updating Quests throughout the Upper Valley!

So far, her favorite Quests are the Hemlock Paradise Pool Quest in Thetford and the Flat Rock Quest in Orford. “It’s a toss-up,” says Carrie. “Both lead to beautiful swimming holes! I had no idea they were in the area until I completed those Quests.” She’s looking forward to taking a canoe out on the Loon Quest and Connecticut River Quest this summer!

Carrie recently earned her BSc in Biology from the University of British Columbia. Her four years out West kindled her passion for the natural sciences at both the ecological and cellular level. A Hanover native, Carrie loves the beautiful views and unique sense of community the Upper Valley has to offer. Her favorite pastimes include finding new swimming holes, learning how to play the guitar, trying new foods, and sketching floor plans of small homes.

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 Sara@VitalCommunities.org.

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

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.


Call for Volunteers to Test the NEW Valley Quest App!

The Valley Quest Program is proud to announce that our new Valley Quest App is now in beta testing! The Valley Quest App is an app for Apple devices that allows you to load our 200+ Quests throughout the Upper Valley directly on your iPhone or iPad.

This app allows users to:

  • Find Quests anywhere in the Upper Valley
  • View the description, summary information, and relevant updates for each Quest
  • Load the Quest clues straight to your device
App shot 2 App shot 3 App shot 4

While the app is completed, it is still in the development phase. Before it can be officially released to the public and made available on the Apple iTunes Store, it must be thoroughly tested. During this “beta testing” phase, we need volunteers like you to download the app to your Apple device, take it for a test run, and send us your feedback on how it worked.

Sounds good. How do I test it?

Here’s how it works:

  1. E-mail our Valley Quest Coordinator to sign up. You’ll then get a confirmation e-mail inviting you to test the app.
  2. Download the test version of the app to your Apple device. (Don’t worry — It’s easier than it sounds! Just follow the steps provided in your e-mail.)
  3. Go Questing using the app! You’ll have access to ALL of our Valley Quests right at your fingertips! Try to complete at least one or two Quests using the app.
  4. Send us your feedback! The app allows you to submit feedback on each Quest you complete. This helps us make sure each Quest in the field is up-to-date, so please take a few minutes to complete this section.

After you’ve had a chance to test the app out on a few Quests, our Valley Quest Coordinator will be in contact with you to get your feedback on the app itself. This will help us ensure that the app is user-friendly and meets the needs of all audiences.

We hope you will join us in this exciting project! Contact Valley Quest to learn more.

Ready to Super Quest?

If you’re an avid Super Quester, you might notice that this year’s Super Quest is a little different.

In past years, our Super Quests have been oriented around a central theme such as Civil War Quests, General Stores, etc.

This year the Super Quest is all about getting more people involved with Valley Quest. Rather than focusing on a particular theme, the 2016 Super Quest gives Questers a variety of options to get out and explore what interests them while accruing points. Questers can pick and choose from 15 available categories. These items range in difficulty from simple tasks, such as registering your Super Quest team or Questing with a friend, to more difficult tasks like writing your own Quest or hiking a mountain on a Quest.

Super Quest Patches will be awarded to all individuals and team members who earn at least 10 points. All participants who earn at least 25 points will be entered into a grand prize drawing. We will also have a special treat for the team that collects the most points by November 1!

By offering an assortment of options to explore and earn points, we hope to make the 2016 Super Quest accessible to a broader audience and to encourage new people to give Questing a try. The Super Quest has plenty to offer beginners and advanced Questers alike, so get Questing!

Super Quest 2016

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I start? Go to our website and fill out the short online form to register. You can also print out a copy of the Super Quest here. We recommend that you keep track of the Quests you’ve completed and track your points on the Super Quest sheet, so you’ll want to keep it handy.
  • Do I have to have a team? No. This year’s Super Quest is not as team-focused as in years past. You’re still welcome to have a team—in fact, the more the merrier!—but it’s not a requirement this year. If you are signing up as an individual, just choose your own team name and enter “1” for the number of team members.
  • Can I double-dip and get points in multiple categories for the same Quest? Yes. For instance, if you go on a Quest in your town (2 points) that you’ve never been on before (2 points), you get a total of 4 points for that one Quest. If you took public transit to get there (5 points) and found the Quest in the Best of Valley Quest book (2 points), you would get an additional 7 points for that same Quest.
  • How do I submit my points? You have three options for submitting your points:
    1. Go to VitalCommunities.org/SuperQuest and submit your points electronically.
    2. E-mail our Valley Quest Coordinator and let her know your total point count AND which Quests you completed.
    3. Fill your point totals in the circles on Super Quest form and mail it to Vital Communities, 195 N. Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05001.