I can't tell you how many times I've been meaning to answer that question. I've had it posed to me multiple times on Facebook, over the phone, and in person..... which just goes to show how much I've been talking about letterboxing this summer.
Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt. Letterboxing is like a scavenger hunt. Letterboxing is like solving a mystery. Letterboxing can be like an interactive nature hike. Letterboxing is sometimes like a mini-history lesson. But most importantly, letterboxing is fun and intriguing and a little bit addicting.
Here's how it works....one family or individual is inspired to hide a letterbox. Some letterboxes tell a personal story of a favorite vacation, are a memorial to a loved one, or relate to an unusual bit of local history. In my area, I've found one letterbox hunt that relates to the underground railroad, one that is in honor of a late family pet, and one that was inspired by Ohio's state symbols.
The hidden letterbox is a waterproof container of some kind and contains a handcarved rubber stamp and a log book. The hider then posts, or otherwise distributes clues about where the letter box is hidden. Sometimes the clues have very clear starting points, sometimes one must do some research about local history to find the starting point. (We haven't attempted the latter yet.)
From the starting point, the clues will give directions on how to follow a path to find the letterbox. (Such as, 'look to the east and you will see...." or "take the north branch of the path".) Letterboxes don't use GPS coordinates (that's geocaching). Sometimes the clues are pretty obvious....sometimes not so much.
(Thankfully, this was NOT a snake. Since I was standing right under the thing, no one was happier than me to discover that it wasn't a snake.)
The finder carries his or her own stamp, a stamp pad, a waterproof pen, and a log book of their own. (Yeah, I mixed singular and plural pronouns. Neener neener.) They use the stamp that was in the letterbox to stamp their own log book. They use their own stamp to stamp the log book that was in the letterbox. In both log books, they record the date it was found.
The morning of our first letterbox hunt, we were looking over our summer bucket list, trying to decide what to do that day. "Let's go letterboxing!" I declared. The kids weren't sure what letterboxing was, but I used my awesome power of persuasion to convince them to give it a try. (No, I didn't bribe or threaten them; thanks for the vote of confidence there.)
Just a few minutes later, Insight called. She had been trying to decide what to do that day, and was looking over our bucket list for ideas, and thought she and her boy might try letterboxing. A joint outing was quickly agreed upon.
If you'd like to try letterboxing on your own, here's what you need:
- A waterproof stamp pad
- A rubber stamp (you can buy supplies to carve your own at a craft store, or used a premade rubber stamp.) This stamp stands for you or your family. I've also seen families carve a small stamp for each person.
- A permanent or scrapbooking marker
- A small log book
- A camera. I forgot mine, but Insight remembered hers....thus the lovely pictures.
- Shoes for walking/hiking.
- Insect repellent. (It just makes any walk through the woods more pleasant.) Sun screen if your walk isn't through a shady forest.
- A sense of adventure, a little patience, a dose of perseverance, and a smidgen of luck.
If you decide to try out letterboxing, please drop back in and let me know how it goes!
Check out more Field Trip ideas! (Plus, I'm so proud of myself for figuring out how to include a clickable graphic link!)