Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letterboxing Again!

I am in love with Letterboxing. Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt, but better. If you have not heard of this, click on the title above or go to Go to the site anyway. It's amazing. I love this quote from the website, "LETTERBOXING is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. A wide variety of adventures can be found to suit all ages and experience levels." I started doing this with my family last summer. We went on a few hunts and then life interrupted...again. I've been keeping it in the back of my mind recently. Then I found that there is a location within walking distance to my house. I took my son there today. I underestimated how close to us it actually was. His little legs made it, though. He only asked me to carry him once.
Here is the what you do. You get a notebook. I bought one of those "fancy" black, hardcover artsy books at Barnes and Noble. I wanted something my children can look back on and enjoy. I really, really like the brown leatherbound ones, but I'll stick to the one I have while my kids are still little.
Then you make a stamp. I use a store-bought one right now. I didn't want to go through the process of making a stamp only to use it once. And I wanted my sons to have a hand in making their own. Eli's almost four now and has decided what he wants his stamp to be. The husband is going to help carve it out of an eraser. Yes, and eraser. I love Letterboxing so much.

You also need a stamp pad and a pen or marker...something to write with.
Go to the website and search for your state and area. You'll most likely find Letterboxes in your area. Let's assume that you do. Click on one and read the directions. Print them out, unless you have a photographic memory. Then, off you go!

Follow the directions. When you get to the spot, which could be anywhere...literally, anywhere (we've been in parking lots, woods, stone walls, next to water)...find the "box". Sometimes it is a box. A plastic container to keep the elements out. Sometimes it's a Ziplock bag. Some are smaller than my palm and some are the gallon sized Ziplock. The box may be hidden under leaves, in a hole in a tree, in a stone wall. Once you find it, you need to leave your stamp in their book and their stamp in your book. You also write the date you visited the box, your name or some sort of "code name". You can also leave a message about the experience...was the box easy to find, was there poison ivy, did you need bug spray?...
My boys love pirates and anything pertaining to treasure (thank you David Shannon), so getting them to go on a treasure hunt was easy. To make it a bit more interactive, since they cannot read, I draw out the directions in a treasure map format. I think I may yellow the paper with tea bags or something like it. Perhaps I'll seal it with wax or ribbon or put it in a bottle, like it washed up on shore. Or maybe I'll seal it in a work of art...a la The Goonies. Make sure that you put everything back where you found it and keep it hidden. Also, if the box is broken or something is missing, you can email the person who hid in via I also take pictures of each trip and put the pictures in our Letterboxing book. I also write a little something about the trip. It's fun to look back on. If we ever manage to get out of this state and go on a vacation, we can most likely find a letterboxing site on the way or nearby our destination. They are everywhere. Have I mentioned how much I love Letterboxing? I LOVE LETTERBOXING.
As far as reading, physical education, reading, writing, mathematics...they all fit. AND some of these only take a few minutes to find, so you have time to do everything else you planned that day.

Oh, and it's virtually free.

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