Letterboxing is a fun activity that will get the whole family outside for an adventure. A combination of exploring, navigation and treasure hunt, letterboxing can suit all ages. It involves searching scenic places as you follow clues to a previously hidden box.
What you’ll need:
· Small notebook for each child.
· Nature-themed rubber stamp for each child. Have them pick a design that has personal meaning.
Various web sites offer clues to letterboxes. To search by state and find clues for a letterbox in your area, try visiting the Letterboxing North America map. They also have listings for Canada, Central America and other international locations.
Besides clues, the approximate time needed for the search and type of terrain should also be listed. Read through all the clues and make sure that they are age and skill appropriate for your family.
Once you find a set of clues for your area, set out on your adventure. After you decipher the various clues and find the letterbox, check that the rubber stamp and notepad are inside. Then stamp your logbook with the rubber stamp that was in the hidden box. Also stamp your personal stamp into the logbook you found in the box. Seal everything up and re-hide the box where you found it.
You may want to write a note next to the stamp in your notebook describing the area you visited that day.
Get your feet wet:
Try letterboxing in your own backyard by setting up a mini course.
To do this, you'll need just a few extra supplies In addition to ones listed above. You’ll need an extra notepad and rubber stamp for the hidden letterbox, as well as a small box to hide them in. Use the smallest possible container the stamp will fit in so it’s easier to hide. Finally, enclose everything in a zipper bag to waterproof it.
When you pick a rubber stamp that will go into the box, have it pertain to the area it will be hidden in (there are many choices of rubber stamps in craft and hobby stores such as trees, flowers, bugs etc).
This would also make a great group or scout activity. If you have a large area available, have 3-4 different searches planned out. Try to keep groups at 3-5 kids in each.
To set up your own course, start by locating the general place you want to hide the box and work backwards. For example, place the box under rocks or fallen logs, but take care to put it off of any walking trails so that they aren’t accidentally discovered.
Pick somewhere especially beautiful or remote, or somewhere with interesting and unique scenic features. Keeping safety in mind (as well as the age of the participants) you could even pick somewhere a little challenging to get to.
Put the notebook, stamp and ink pad in the box. Place everything in a plastic zipper bag and hide it.
Next, write the clues. Look online for examples of types and styles of clues. You can create a single set of clues that you give out at the start of the game, or you can hide clues along the way.
Clues can be straightforward or cryptic. You can also include map coordinates or compass bearings from landmarks. Think about using wordplay in your clues as well as multiple choice questions or poetry. If your group is doing a theme-based activity, base your clues around that same theme. Or, write a story and incorporate landmarks into it with various turns and paces thrown in. Clues can even be based on sights, smells, sounds & textures of nature (rippling water, smooth white bark).
Letterboxing is fun for the whole family. Whether it's new to you or you've gone on several of these adventures, drop us a note about your letterboxing experience!
You can get more information on this fast-growing hobby at Letterboxing North America.
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You may also enjoy the post A Springtime Scavenger Hunt.
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As with any activity, please use your discretion and only do things that you deem are safe based on the age of your child and your location.