The Black Freedman’s Living Historical Farm for Children

Photo by Steven Glazer

Poetics of Place:  Connecting People & Places

Questing was born out of a 150-year old tradition in the region surrounding Dartmoor National Park in southwest England. "Letterboxing," as this tradition is called, has become a hugely popular past time, with thousands of boxes hidden in both natural and cultural locations.

Vital Communities built upon this tradition on this side of the Atlantic by developing the Valley Quest program. “Valley” referring to the Upper Valley region and “Quest” referring to a treasure hunt—made by children and adults working together—leading to a treasure in the community. 

This treasure might be a natural site (wetland, town forest) or perhaps a cultural site (abandoned mill site, historic cemetery, etc.). Each Quest would be made up of three parts: clues, which teach visitors how to see—or read—a community story; a map guiding them along a specific route; leading to a particular “treasure” and treasure box, complete with a story about the site, a sign-in book, and a hand-carved stamp featuring a symbol for the site. 

Over the course of 10 years, under the direction of Steven Glazer, the Valley Quest program has grown. More than 1,500 children, adults, families, scouts, students and historical society members contributed to the creation of the Quests found in the Valley Quest books.

Vital Communities continues to promote and maintain the regional Valley Quest program. Steven Glazer and Poetics of Place mentors communities across New England, the country and internationally as they develop their own regional quests and questing programs.

"Steve is a master of his craft. He combines excellent facilitation skills with extensive knowledge of the English language, history and the natural world to lead us through the fun and creative process of creating rich educational Quests. "
- Katie Holden, Concord, MA Dept. of Natural Resources