Choose your adventure

Druin Heal

Photo by Neesa Sonoquie

Druin Heal is an experienced tracker and hunter, a master of knots and lashings, an archer, a tomahawk thrower, an Eagle Scout and a genius at orienteering. And he wants to take you on an adventure. A certified California naturalist, Heal gathered quite a following while running the science and nature program at the Chico Creek Nature Center. He recently ventured out on his own, developing his popular field trips into something more spectacular—Adventure Quest. Combining his love for medieval times, passion for useful outdoor skills and desire for adventure, Heal now provides personally curated quests for birthday parties, wedding proposals, bachelor/bachelorette parties, class field trips and more. These events come with ancient treasure maps, ciphered clues, complicated riddles and battles with trolls. They can last hours, days, weeks or more; the details are personalized and pricing varies. Check out Heal’s Facebook page @quest4adventure for his event calendar (he offers free monthly field trips) and for info on how to create your own quest.

How did this idea come about?

It was born out of Ranger Corps, a group I created about eight years ago—we camp and hike in medieval gear, teaching and learning woodsman stuff like tool use and pioneering, all with a fantasy twist. From that, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to go on a quest? You get these stories in books and the movies, there are great deeds to be done, but I wanted to do it. Who wants to file paperwork? Wouldn’t you rather go and fight some orcs?

What does Adventure Quest offer?

We have three major themes to choose from. Quests are medieval, Lord of the Rings-style; adventures are more Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider; and then treasure hunts are pirate-themed. There are mental and physical challenges, like maybe you have to fight a bunch of bandits … . Right now we mostly use [foam-padded swords], but as we earn more money we are getting LARP [live action role-playing]-type swords that look real, because the greater the immersion the better.

What are some of the coolest quests you have created so far?

I’m a leathersmith and my wife makes jewelry, so we make quest items and costumes, we color scrolls and maps with tea and burn the edges to make it look really old. We recently did a quest at Monkey Face with a magical stone. It was for a school class, fairy-themed, and we used a lot of Celtic mythology. I dressed up as the God of Wild Things and gave them three clues—one was underground, one in the deepest waters, one up high in a tree. What I love about the kids ones is that they are just so into it, they really believe it. The challenge with the adults is in creating the clues, the intricacy. We try to make it as real as possible, and it is real. You are out in the physical world, climbing ropes, scaling rocky bits, finding caves with real items and real clues. It’s a blast.