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Venture Vermont 2009

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Want a free pass to Vermont's state parks? You can earn one by taking the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge. It's a self-guided scavenger hunt that gives you points for completing environmentally friendly activities, most of which are centered around the parks. You get points for hiking, fishing, boating, climbing a tree, wading in the water or for introducing friends to a new state park.

If you complete the challenge, you get a free state parks pass, good for the rest of this year, and all of next year. Pretty great, right?

My family of four is working our way through it. We found out about it late last summer — I blogged about it here — but we didn't have time to complete it before the deadline in mid-October.

We're totally on top of it this year, though. Here's a picture from our hike up Mount Philo last weekend — 20 points each, plus 20 bonus points because Mount Philo was the Weekly Venture Vermont Bonus on the State Parks blog (see the left-hand column). All of us are now more than halfway to the required 250 points.

The best thing about the challenge is that it gives you a to-do list. It's a project, and when you get points, you feel like you're making progress. But the tasks are all fun — they're all about getting you outside to experience nature, which is one of the biggest bonuses of living in Vermont. Our family is loving it.

I was feeling like the program wasn't getting much attention — until I saw this article about it last week in the Burlington Free Press. I had some additional questions, so I contacted Rochelle Skinner. She's the Parks Sales and Service Manager.

Skinner told me that 200 families participated last year. So far this year, only 20 people have sent in completed score sheets. But it's still early in the season. "I'm getting a lot of questions on it," she said, "so I think a lot of people are doing it."

If you want to get in on the action, download a score sheet and get moving. This year's deadline is October 15.

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