Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Sometime during the winter months, I had this grand scheme of making a tremendous chart to hang on the back of our front door. This ginormous chart would include every regional, county, state, and federal park within driving distance. The boys and I would visit them one by one.

While researching parks for our mega chart, I came across Maryland Park Quest 2009, http://www.dnr.state.md.us/parkquest/.

A year ago, the Maryland Park Service launched this family-oriented program with the goal of connecting families, especially children, to the outdoors. In it's first year, there were six participating parks on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Almost 160 families registered. This year, Park Quest has expanded to include fourteen parks across the entire state.

Families, or teams including at least one adult and one person under 16 years of age, are to complete quests at the participating state parks. Quests are customized to their location and can include hiking, canoing, scavenger hunts, history puzzles, birding, etc. Teams that complete eight of the fourteen quests qualify for the finale where there are games and prizes.

I registered our team within hours of discovering the program.

As of this week, we've completed four quests. Admittedly, there has been some grumbling, a few sore muscles, and one skinned knee. But overall, we've had a wonderful time. We've searched for fossils and sharks teeth on the shores of the Chesapeake. We've hiked a small piece of the Appalachian Trail and climbed the first monument to George Washington. We've learned about critters inhabiting the shores of the Patuxent. And we've identified ten different birds in a lakeside park just outside Washington DC.

And if spending a lovely day bonding with one's children wasn't enough, there's an added bonus to all the fresh air.

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