The 2014 Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge is a four-page checklist featuring a multitude of tasks, each with a point value ranging from five to 10 points for smaller tasks, and up to 30 points for bonus tasks. There are eight categories in the checklist, each with up to 11 goals that a participant can conquer. The “Get moving” category requires the completion of three items, with activities ranging from going for a bike ride in your neighborhood (10 points) to going canoe-camping (15 points) and hiking at least three miles carrying a pack (10 points).
Another category, “Investigate,” asks participants to complete tasks such as making a plaster cast of a wild animal’s footprint (10 points), photograph five species of native Vermont wild plants (5 points), and find a stone wall in the woods and create a story about how it got there (10 points). Other categories include Observe, Reveal, Fortitude, Pioneer, and Know your parks.
The goal of the challenge is to accumulate a total of 250 points, which earns a participant a free state park pass. Bonus activities are included in each category, and require a little more work such as creating journals, making recordings, and taking video. These activities include making a video of a hike and sending it in with your checklist, making a recording of a frog or toad’s call at night, and catching a fish with a fishing pole made of materials found in nature.
The venture challenge began in 2009, when 50 participants sent in scorecards. Since then the challenge has continued to grow, and in 2013, the parks department collected 350 scorecards. “The goal was to give parents ideas, and cool things to do with their kids and to get their kids outside and reward them for it,” said Vermont State Park sales and service manager Rochelle Skinner, who oversees the challenge. “A secondary goal was to get parents and kids out together, doing outside activities, and creating great memories.”
While the challenge was originally geared toward families, there have never been age restrictions included in the challenge, and everyone from young couples to senior citizens have taken part each year. “Vermont’s outdoors is there for everyone and it’s everywhere,” said Skinner. “The outdoors is good for your health, both physically and mentally, and provides relaxation, rejuvenation, and an increased sense of curiosity and exploration.
“You don’t necessarily have to go to a state park to experience Vermont’s outdoors, it’s all around you and easily accessible.”
The challenge runs until October 15, and features three main rules: Take photos of all activities, one scorecard allowed per person, and have a blast. All pictures, videos, and journals are sent in with the checklist, which can be found with rules and other information at vtstateparks.com.