The Ruth Keeler Library issued town residents a challenge. Will they accept it?


Photo courtesy of Jen Gileno

It’s hard to think of an activity that’s family-friendly, covid-safe and mostly screen-free, but the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library has done just that. From February 19 – 21, the Library will host the Great North Salem Winter Scavenger Hunt, a friendly competition intended to unite the community around our town’s greatest asset – the great outdoors.

Last summer, the Library hosted its inaugural Scavenger Hunt as folks were experiencing the first wave of covid fatigue. “It gave community members something fun to do outside of their houses,” said Susie Thompson, Library trustee and North Salem Town Historian. “Most everybody involved said they really had fun and thought it was a great challenge.”

The inaugural hunt was themed around town landmarks, and required participants to complete a combination of tasks and trivia questions. Among the tasks: visit Balanced Rock and “find and photograph the initials CWD that were carved in the 19th century.” The trivia questions tested participants’ knowledge about things like Keeler Library and other landmarked buildings around town.

This winter's hunt, which is sponsored by Hayfields Market, will be all about nature, outdoors and the winter sky. The Library partnered with the North Salem Open Land Foundation to help develop many of the questions and challenges involved in the hunt. “It’s a combination of outdoor challenges where you have to go and do something along with questions that you can answer at your desk,” said Thompson.

With the Hunt taking place in February, there is a good possibility that there will be snow on the ground. Thompson said that’s ok, even terrific, but a lot of snow would be a problem as participants will need to access North Salem open lands in order to complete some challenges. If snow is a hindrance, the hunt will move to the weekend of February 26-28.

While any combination of registrants may participate – individuals, couples, groups – Thompson said that those who register as part of a team are likely to fare best. 

Patti Kravit, along with her son Kyle and his girlfriend Lea Trageser, competed--and won--as Team Chicken Cluckers of Cat Ridge Road. “We had a fabulous time. It was something totally different and it kind of tested us in a lot of different ways,” Kravit said. Kravit plans to compete again this winter, though she may need to recruit new teammates to help her defend her title; Kyle is currently attending culinary school.

Diane Balch, President of the Ruth Keeler Library Board of Trustees, also participated in the summer hunt, along with her college-age daughter. “There were plenty of silly, fun things to do that a small child, or really anyone with a good sense of play, would have enjoyed,” she said. Despite being a town resident for over two decades, Balch still found the event to be a learning experience. “I learned so much about the town's history that I didn't know, like how deeply involved North Salem was in the circus industry.”

Thompson hopes that all North Salem families will feel encouraged to participate. “I think it’s a really good family activity,” she said. “There are parts that an adult has to do, but there are also things that kids of any age could do.”

Registration is now open on the Library’s website. The fee is $50 per team, with proceeds going to help support the Library and its programs. Once a team registers, they will receive a link to download GooseChase, a scavenger hunt app that incorporates photos, text and GPS location questions.

Winners will receive nature-themed gift items donated by area businesses. First prize is an outdoor fire pit, donated by Kelloggs & Lawrence; second prize is a book collection chosen by the Board of Trustees; third prize is a bird feeder. All participants will win a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Photo courtesy of Jen Gileno
Photo courtesy of Jen Gileno
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