Free Webinar on Writing Waterway Quests, April 8

Valley Quests are treasure hunts set in special locations around the Upper Valley. Each Quest follows a unique set of clues that teach you about a place’s ecology, wildlife, and history while leading to a “treasure box” with a special stamp and log book for you to sign. But they’re not restricted to dry land! Wetlands, streams, and lakes are also among the special 160+ Upper Valley places that Quests explore.

Learn how to make your own waterway-based Quest in a webinar with Vital Communities’ Sandy Gmur on Thursday, April 8, 7 to 8 pm, sponsored by the Springfield (VT) Town Library and the Black River Action Team. Register here.

Come with ideas and questions for a waterway Quest of your own and work with Sandy and other participants to turn your idea into a Quest that could be added to Vital Communities’ Quest directory!

Having moved to the Upper Valley two years ago, Sandy has found Quests invaluable activities to help her get to know her new communities. With so many beautiful bodies of water throughout the Connecticut River Watershed using a canoe or kayak is a great way to introduce people to these special places.

Quests can help people appreciate a precious natural asset, says Kelly Stettner, director of the Black River Action Team. “Our waterways are priceless treasures in and of themselves, as places to boat and fish, swim and splash.  They also provide incredible value to the healthy function of the entire ecosystem: everything alive relies on clean water.  From turtles to trout, salamanders to songbirds, and dragonflies to deer (and everything in-between!), wildlife depends on our rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, and even wetlands and bogs to flourish.  By writing your own water-based ValleyQuest for a public waterway in your area, you can help visitors as well as residents responsibly explore and come to appreciate these fascinating and sometimes overlooked gems. Awareness of a river or lake is a first step toward appreciation and a desire to help keep it clean and healthy, fully functional for humans as well as for wildlife.”

Go here to learn more about creating your own Quests, as well as books and stamps to go with them!

Valley Quest Volunteer Monitors Needed

Do you enjoy being outdoors? Do you enjoy bringing others outdoors and making their experience something special?

Then you are a good candidate for monitoring one or more of our 160+ Valley Quests throughout the Upper Valley. Time commitment is primarily for a few hours in the spring and late fall with perhaps a visit to your Quest(s) once or twice over the summer. We would love to have you join us in keeping Questing alive and well! For more details contact Sandy at valleyquest@vitalcommunities.org.

That’s Snow Excuse!

Don’t be deterred by wet, cold or snow.  Good times can be had when a-questing you go!  Be sure to search our website Valley Quest page selecting for Season and Year Round to see what Quests are possible even through winter.  One special one is the Maple Quest at Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock, VT.

Sugarbush Farm is a 550 acre hillside farm located in central Vermont. The Luces are the second, third and fourth generations to live on this land. Jack and Marion Ayres bought the farm in 1945 with a dream to make a go of country living. They were the first folks in Vermont to start packaging cheese in waxed bars so they would travel well without refrigeration. By 1975 the Boston Globe wrote about Sugarbush Farm “At the end of a scenic Vermont road lies a Cheese Lovers paradise.” In 1995 the American Cheese Society awarded Sugarbush Farm a Blue ribbon for the best smoked cheese in the country.

After you follow the clues of the Quest which take you on a learning trail through the sugarbush, you can visit the farm store for lots of local goodies and see how they package their cheese and you can take a look at the sugar house where the syrup is made.  A very fun outing with treats at the end!

Quest to Refresh Winners!

Congratulations to all the our participants in our Quest to Refresh Challenge!  28 teams took us up on the Challenge to get out and explore our Quests to beat the pandemic blues.

Malcolm and Joseph Marchesi pictured here made up one of the 28 teams that participated in the Quest to Refresh Challenge. 16 of these teams completed the Challenge and were entered in a grand prize drawing which was won by True North, consisting of Rachel North of Hartland and a young person she cared for over the summer. Said Rachel, “What drew us to questing was the thrill of the treasure hunt. My buddy loved the idea of finding treasure in the woods. What made questing different from geocaching or letterboxing was the riddles; they were fun and engaging and allowed us to learn while we had fun.” By the way, there are dozens of four-season Valley Quests, so keep your hiking shoes handy. Search on “Season” and “Year-round”!