By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- A series of treasure hunts organized by several community sponsors has joined the lineup of activities planned for April 21 when Front Royal and Warren County celebrate their designation as an Appalachian Trail Community.
The treasure hunts, called quests, draw upon the 150-year-old English tradition of "letterboxing" that challenges participants to locate hidden treasure boxes using maps and clues.
The organizations involved in designing and running the quests include: The Tree Stewards of Front Royal/Warren County; Warren Heritage Society; Heaven Sent Bible, Book & Gift Shoppe; Girl Scout Troop #40333 and the Appalachian Trail Steering Committee.
Sonja Carlborg, a member of the Appalachian Trail Community Steering Committee, said quests have proved to be "incredibly popular" in other communities throughout the United States.
"It's a wonderful way for people to learn the specialness, the unique qualities of the places in which they live," Carlborg said.
Those wanting to participate in one or more quests on April 21 can do so by visiting the Trees are Cool Booth that will be set up at the Village Commons. They should ask for the Happy Creek Arboretum Quest and obtain a map and clues to help them find the treasure box, which contains a log book and a custom stamp. The questor, who will be carrying a passport, can sign the log book and then stamp his passport. Stamping the log book on site verifies that the participant has finished the quest.
When a questor has obtained a stamp for all five of the quests that will be launched on April 21, he will be eligible to earn a special Appalachian Trail Community patch, redeemable at the Visitor Center. Questors need not
complete all the quests in a single day. They will remain in place until Oct. 15.
Other quests are being planned and individuals will have a chance to create their own in a competition the Appalachian Trail Community Steering Committee is planning for this summer.
A news release issued by the steering committee lists several objectives it hopes to
achieve with the designation of Front Royal and Warren County as a trail community.
They include catalyzing "sustainable economic development around outdoor recreation and tourism" and promoting the trail "as a community resource and asset."