Wild about Parks Quest

My grandchildren love scavenger hunts and treasure hunts.  We always have one as part of Grandma Camp when they visit me.

This summer we used our detective skills in a program offered by the Urbana, IL Park District –  Parks Quest.

Wild About Parks Quest is a letterboxing event that celebrates the Urbana Park District’s many parks and facilities.  Letterboxing can be compared with a treasure hunt – where the treasure is a hidden box and the map is a set of clues used to find the box.

To learn more about this intriguing pastime, letterboxing, you can check out this website:  http://www.letterboxing.org/index.php You can click on the map to find letterboxes that are hidden in your city.

Back to Parks Quest.  To become a quester you need a clue booklet.  These can be picked up at the Urbana Park District office or can be downloaded from their website.  You use this clue booklet to find each letterbox.

For example, at one park  you are told to follow the path into the Gazebo and take a seat on one of the benches.  You then read about the large oak tree nearby with a plaque telling how old the tree is.  Reading on, you are asked to look for one tree that is not like the rest.  This tree has blue leaves or needles.  Search below the needles on the south side of the tree and there is the park’s letter box.

My granddaughter agreed to be the one to shimmy under the big blue spruce.

Out she came with the letter box in her hand.

My grandchildren opened the letterbox and took out the stamp.  They inked it up and stamped their Quest Clue Book to show they had found the treasure.  Then they signed the notebook with our names and the date to show when we found the letter box.  Finally it is really important to put the letterbox back where you found it so it will be ready for the next quester to find.  Yes, my granddaughter had to shimmy back under the blue spruce.

“Let’s go to another park, Grandma.”  SO we did.

In some of the parks the letterbox was hidden in a hollow of a tree.  My grandson considered for some time if he wanted to plunge his hand in for the letter box.  He was wondering what besides the letterbox might be in that hole.  We found no wild critters.

Off to another park and then another.

Time out.  It was hot and we were tired and needed a break.

No better way to cool off than with a yummy dip (or two) of ice cream.  As we sat eating, we looked at the booklet planning our next park.  Guess what – there was one right across the street from the ice cream shop.  When we finished, we headed over to look for another letterbox.

The most difficult quest required us to walk on a trail through a park with many gardens.  In each garden we were instructed to find a letter.  The letter was put into numbered blanks in our book.  When completed we would have the title of a sculpture in the park.  The letterbox was behind that sculpture under a flat rock in the brush.

My granddaughter was filling in the blanks so we could find that elusive letterbox.

We explored eight parks and have eight stamps in our Park Quest book.  However, the children were a little unhappy.  The car was packed and it was time for them to head home.  I promised that when they come for another visit, we’ll explore more parks.  I did add that it might be cold weather when they return.  ”We’ll bring boots and gloves and warm jackets, Grandma.  Can we do it?  Can we do it?”

I called the Park District and verified that the letterboxes are left out all year around so yes, we can go out even in the snow – and that might be really fun – to look for the treasures.  I was also told that the Park District sends someone out every few weeks to check on the letterboxes so there will be no missing boxes.

When Daddy asked the children if they had fun doing Parks Quest, I saw two smiles and two thumbs up.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week a recipe for some yummy cookies that have chunks of peanut butter cups in them.  Hope you stop by to visit again.


One Response to “Wild about Parks Quest”

  1. Jen R. Says:

    Sounds like so much fun! The boys and I really need to do this.