Recess: A Quest for Adventure

9 05 2010

After all that math, and spending most of the rest of this rainy Saturday cooped up, reading Tom Sawyer and a book about mummies, Floppy proclaimed that it was time for an “adventure.” My physical education book suggested for today’s lesson following Denise Austin as she stretched out a bunch of giant rubber bands, which honestly did not seem very adventurous, so it was time for plan B.

Vital Communities, which is a wonderful local sustainability organization, besides being in the business of mass transit, local food, and saving the environment, has a sideline in treasure hunts. I kid you not. Our local treasure hunts are adventurously called Quests. You follow clues written in rhymed verses to hike through a natural or historical area and find a hidden box with treasures inside — minimally, a rubber stamp with gorgeous artwork and a miniature notebook. You carry a stamp pad, a notebook of your own, and your own personal (usually homemade) stamp. When you find the box, you stamp it into your notebook, and leave your stamp in its notebook. Sometimes there are other mystery treasures inside, too.

Vital Communities holds a series of parties every spring where you can make your notebook and stamps, and we did that last year, but we’ve never followed a Quest here. So I suggested we try one. I sort of wished I hadn’t suggested it once I looked at the clock, as it was an hour before sunset and we hadn’t even packed a bag, and the Quest was in an unfamiliar park. I momentarily imagined us lost, wet, and cold in the dark less than a mile from home.

But Floppy’s face had lit up, and it was sunny for the first time all day, so I packed extra carefully and double-checked our attire more than I usually would. What’s an adventure without a little danger?

Here’s the Quest we chose. We had trouble finding the park, and right away, it looked very mysterious. We followed the clues to a hidden bridge:

The brook it spanned was full of spring rain:

We headed deeper into the woods:

The trails were wet, muddy, and slippery, and it was dark and spooky.

And  then, just before we reached our hidden treasure, the thunder and lightning moved in and the rain started to pour. We picked our way back as fast as we could in the dark, and we never did make it to the treasure box. But our hearts were pounding all the same! (And we all survived, no injuries.) A real adventure!

(P.S. If you’d like to have an adventure of your own, but don’t live in New Hampshire or Vermont, a similar program (without the poetry) is offered all over the country in the form of letterboxing. We’ve done letterboxing all over the country, and that’s lots of fun too. )

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