The Black Freedman’s Living Historical Farm for Children

Photo by Steven Glazer

Poetics of Place:  Connecting People & Places

Questing is an award-winning place-based education model.*

A quest is a community treasure hunt that guides people through -- and teaches them how to see -- a unique community treasure. This treasure might be a natural feature in the community (a watershed, a park or wetlands), a cultural site (the oldest building, the first gravestone) or perhaps the setting of a particular story (the life of a person, the home of an animal or the beginnings of an industry).

Quests can be designed and adapted to explore a wide variety of places. Steven Glazer has led Quest trainings in ten states and three countries, helping communities develop regional QUESTING programs.

Quests can be created by individuals or small groups, by classrooms or scout troops working as a group, and by youth groups and adult community partners working collaboratively. For each quest, participants create:

  • Verse clues that guide and teach questers as they move through a site.
  • Quest maps that illustrate the quest and prevent visitors from getting lost.
  • Hidden treasure boxes at the end of the quest, which contain a scrapbook, a sign-in guest book and a unique hand-carved rubber stamp.

Once a quest has been created, children, families and adults search for the hidden boxes while they discover their community's landscape and heritage. Families can go questing on holiday outings and for children's birthday parties; daycare programs, schools and camps can utilize quests for educational field trips; tourists enjoy quests as well. All of these people benefit and learn from a quest.

On the surface, a quest seems fairly straightforward: rhyming clues, a hand-drawn map and a hidden treasure box. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface is a program that teaches community landscape and heritage and that fosters a sense of place.

Quests, in general, emphasize three things:

  • Mapping the assets of our communities -- our special places
  • Teaching about these places in an integrated, multisensory and experiential way
  • Deepening community interrelationships: between children and adults, schools and communities, newcomers and old-timers, and across the various constituencies of the community

Making Quests builds community, strengthens participants' senses of connection and well being, and fosters regional sense of place. Going on Quests is educational, recreational, intergenerational and fun. Maintaining Quests is community stewardship.

*The Valley Quest program, under the direction of Steven Glazer was recognized with the NEEEA "program of the year" award in 2005.

"Steve is one of the true, great practioners of place-based education in the western hemisphere. With his insight and perspicacity, he's made Questing one of the unique vehicles for delving into local landscapes, culture, stories and history. He's the Pied Piper of finding our roots. Follow him and there's never a dull moment."
- David Sobel, Author, Childhood and Nature