How to Make a Quest

Over the past 25 years, more than 2,000 children, adults, families, scouts, students, and historical society members have contributed to the creation of over 170 quests in and around the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

You may create a quest in your backyard for your friends and family—or you can create a quest as an offering to the greater community. Families, school groups, scout troops, museums, parks, historical societies, homeschoolers, and more have created quests for the fun and educational experience it provides. When you create a quest, you learn about a place and pass that knowledge on to the people who follow your quest.

Once you finish your quest, send it to us and we’ll put it on our website.

In addition to the simple instructions offered here, we have quest curricula to be used in a classroom.

How-to Videos

Video 1: Taking in Your Site, Observing and Learning

Video 3: Writing Clues

Video 2: Mapping and Route-Making

Video 4: Submitting your Quest and Quest Box

Simple Instructions for Making Your Own Quest

  1. ChildrenMakingQuestPick a spot that is a special place for you—perhaps a unique natural or cultural feature of your town.
  2. Find out who owns or manages this property and request permission to make a quest there.
  3. Make a few trips to the site to uncover its details, and to begin to think about the best approaches to making a quest on your site.
  4. Find people in your community who can teach you more about your site—community elders, or members of your town’s historical society or conservation commission. Invite them to take a trip out on the land with you.
  5. Take good notes!
  6. Decide on your quest strategy: a detailed map quest; a map-less quest; a jumble quest (collecting words); a pict-o-quest (no words—only following pictures!); or any combination. Use your imagination and creativity—it’s up to you!
  7. Draw rough maps of your site. Also sketch or note the unique features that would make good clues.
  8. Make a rough draft of your quest map and riddles or accompanying text.
  9. Test your quest with as many different people as you can get to try it out—and make appropriate changes.
  10. Create a written description of what makes the site special. This should come from your research and should only be a few paragraphs long—small enough to be laminated and glued inside the cover of the quest box. You can focus on whatever you think visitors to the site will be most interested in. Depending on the site, possible things to write about include the historical significance of the site to the town; a true story about something that once happened at the site; the natural history of the site—trees to look for, special rocks, plantings, etc.; why people in your town love this site so much; fun or interesting things to do; and amazing-but-true trivia facts about the site (height of steeple, age of building, number of orchid species, number of granite blocks and where they came from, etc.).
  11. Draw final quest map. Here are two helpful online map making tools: Vermont Interactive Map Viewer and New Hampshire Granit Data Mapper.
  12. Design a stamp logo for the site and carve it into a plastic eraser or make a stamp out of rubber and wood.
  13. Get a waterproof box, like a tupperware container, to use as a quest box (Vital Communities has many to share). Waterproof the introduction to the site and attach it securely to the inside cover of the box. Place in the box: a log book, pencil/pen, stamp, ink pad, pencil sharpener, and, of course- some information you’d like to share about your site.
  14. Hide the box.
  15. Make sure you have someone adopt the box for long-term monitoring.

If you would like your quest to be available to other Upper Valley Questers:

  1. Fill out the Valley Quest checklist and send your quest in to us. *Please note: we currently only accept Quests that are within our service area.
  1. Label the outside of the box with a waterproofed copy of the Valley Quest label, which can be picked up at the Vital Communities Office.

Quest Making Tools

Make a Stamp

Make a Book

Quest Making Book

Teaching with Quests

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Beth Roy

Food & Farm Manager

Valley Quest, Food & Farm

 802-291-9100 x105

Valley Quest, Food & Farm

— Beth Roy, Food & Farm Manager

Beth leads Vital Communities' Food & Farm team, including its Upper Valley Farm to School programming, and also oversees Valley Quest. Before joining Vital Communities, Beth worked in the environmental and place-based education fields for 17 years in various positions around New England including at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum in Grafton, Vt. She previously served on the boards of the Vermont Science Teacher Association and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs, a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth is a New Hampshire native and lives in Hartland, Vt., with her husband and two children, and serves on the Hartland School Board. When Beth is not working you will find her exploring the woods around her home with her family or cooking up a new taste test (made of local foods, of course!) for her children.

Sandy Gmur

Valley Quest Coordinator

Valley Quest

 802-291-9100 x118

Valley Quest

— Sandy Gmur, Valley Quest Coordinator

Sandy joined Vital Communities in Fall 2019 to coordinate Valley Quest. Sandy moved back to the East Coast after 32 years in Santa Cruz, CA, and is thrilled to be involved with an organization so interconnected with the issues and services that make the Upper Valley region a vibrant, collaborative, and future-thinking community. Sandy has a BA in Anthropology from Vassar College and worked for several years in Somalia and Greece. She later worked in school administration and then as a Senior Program Associate for the nonprofit Life Lab. Sandy is a founding member of a cohousing community in Santa Cruz and now lives at Cobb Hill Cohousing in Hartland. She is an Executive Committee member of the Sierra Club Upper Valley and volunteers with the Connecticut River Conservancy. Her nurture away from work comes from taking long walks, skiing, cooking, gardening, bread baking, and enjoying time with friends and family.