Now that summer is here, many of us are stretching our imaginations to keep our kids engaged. Even more difficult than finding good ideas are good ideas that are affordable and seriously fun. My cousin told me once about this extremely unusual and ancient game called Letterboxing. When I looked into I was surprised I’d never heard of it before. A secret worldwide treasure hunt? Sign me up!
Letterboxing is apparently an ancient tradition going back to 1854 in England. And it’s now a worldwide activity, connecting people everywhere. What really intrigued me the most was to find that these little treasures were hidden all over my town, parks and hiking trails that I had visited for years. And yet, I never knew.
The basic concept of letterboxing is the hunt for the letterbox itself. A letterbox is simply a hidden, homemade rubber stamp. The owner of the stamp creates it, wraps it, hides it and then posts clues online as to how to find it. Anyone seeking letterboxes can set out on an attempt to find these little elusive stamps. After walking so many steps this way and turning at the fallen tree and then a left at the big rock, if you are lucky or smart enough to find the little treasure, you then ink the stamp and add it to your logbook.
My boys and I tried this adventure a couple of years ago and let me tell you, it was really fun. There’s something just so exciting about searching for hidden treasure. The idea that we are on a hunt for anything that only a few people know about, only a few have found, all the rest have passed by and are still passing by…well, it’s honestly just plain cool.
We were also amazed to find these letterboxes in parks and at schools where we had been so many times before. It was like this secret society we had suddenly joined. Here we were, reaching into a tree we had walked by a hundred times before, and suddenly pulling out a little wrapped box with a stamp inside. How had we missed this??
Letterboxing is a wonderful family activity with lots of possibilities. You can spend your day driving and walking around your area. You can use a compass or a trail map to guide you. Once you find the stamp, you can go home and decorate or color your logbook. You can create your own stamps and hide them. There are so many learning opportunities within the activity and best of all, it’s essentially free. All you need are a small notebook and an ink pad to get started.
There are a few websites you can check out to get started. AtlasQuest.com and Letterboxing.org are the two most popular and are frequently updated. They offer search options so you can find clues for letterboxes in your area. Then just print out the clues and start your adventure!
Have fun and let me know if you find anything!
- Take the Fam on a Letterboxing Adventure (redtri.com)
- Atlas Quest: A Letterboxing Community (atlasquest.com)
- Letterboxing North America (letterboxing.org)