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Annual Canalway Questing program underway

5/1/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

A quester uses a hand-carved stamp to mark a brochure at a local quest site.
Photo: Susan Simenc
GREATER AKRON — For those in need of some adventure, the Canalway Questing program is under way.

This annual program offers participants the opportunity to go on nearly 40 adventures throughout the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Canal Questing, which will run through Nov. 15, is sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, along with Cleveland Metroparks; Stark Parks; Metro Parks, Serving Summit County; Cascade Locks Park Association; Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens; Zoar Community Association; and the city of Canal Fulton.

“The Canalway partners have hidden 37 quest boxes over four counties to encourage visitors to explore their National Heritage Area,” explained Arrye Rosser, interpretive and education specialist for the NPS’ Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). “Each quest is a treasure hunt that tells a story about what makes this particular spot in Northeast Ohio so special. Questers follow rhyming clues and a handmade map to locate each box. Inside is a logbook to sign and a unique hand-carved stamp to mark your brochure or personal journal. Some questers enjoy creating funny individual or team identities. For example, I sign in as Queen Bee.”

Rosser said each of the quests offers something different.

“Each quest has the same basic format of following clues and finding a box, but its personality is as unique as its authors,” she said. “For example, a team of Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists are debuting their Considering Climate Change Quest, the most challenging topic we’ve explored in rhyme. History Spoke to Us Quest is done by bicycle. The Tranquility Quest includes relaxation and reflection activities. In the Growing Up in Zoar Quest, a 19th-century teenager tours you around his historic village. The ghost of a mule leads A Canal Mule’s Quest.”

People of all ages are welcome to join the quest, Rosser noted.

“The series includes titles to suit a range of interests and abilities. For example, we steer families with preschoolers to 123 Come Quest With Me, a counting quest with simple language,” she explained. “We have several titles that can by done by questers using a stroller, walker or wheelchair. The Planning Ahead section of each quest describes the conditions you’ll encounter, what to bring and how much time to allow. Most quests take 30 to 60 minutes. Some are designed to be done in combination, if you want a bigger challenge.”

Rosser said people undertake the quest for a variety of reasons.

“Most are looking for something fun to do with family and friends. Some quest for the exercise. Some tell me how much they enjoy learning or seeing something unexpected. Some just like to collect those stamps,” she said. “Questers enjoy collecting impressions of the unique stamp in each hidden box. You win by getting fit, enjoying time with loved ones and connecting to compelling stories and places within the Ohio & Erie Canalway.”

According to Rosser, the program began in 2010 with a short pilot season. This year marks the fourth full season for the program.

“By our best estimate, we had about 2,200 quest box sign-ins in 2013 and 7,500 since the program began. We calculate that about 4,000 individuals have tried questing to date. While most teams just go on one or two quests, some come back over several years and do as many quests as possible,” she stated. “The program continues to grow each year. To keep things interesting, we add new partners and new titles. We’re proud to announce that Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, the Brecksville Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks, Sippo Lake Park of Stark Parks and Historic Zoar Village recently joined the program.”

Those who would like to get recommendations about the Canalway Questing program from staff members and Quest Crew volunteers are invited to attend one of the upcoming Questing Drop-ins, which are scheduled to take place May 4 and 18, June 8 and Aug. 24. The Questing Drop-ins are scheduled to run from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Hunt House, located in the CVNP at 2054 Bolanz Road, between Riverview and Akron-Peninsula roads in Peninsula.

Participants will have the opportunity to chat with Rosser and Quest Crew volunteers about the Canalway Questing program, and also to pick up Quest clues and carve out a signature stamp. There is no cost to attend.

For the latest information about Canalway Questing, go to www.ohioanderiecanalway.com.

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