I think it is no surprise that my boys and I love to get outdoors whenever we can. We have always enjoyed Geocaching but have found ourselves doing it less and less over the years. I couldn't tell you why, except that perhaps when it comes to getting out of the house it is enough to try to remember bottles, snacks, diapers, hats, jackets, sippy cups, change of clothes, and who knows what else. Add a GPS and little trinkets to that in addition to the cache clues we just aren't on our A-game it seems. So I was happy to be introduced to Letterboxing.
|C & I open up our found letterbox|
Letterboxing is very similar to Geocaching, yet with some differences and with a much longer tradition. Letterboxing is said to have started in England in 1854. Through the years over 20,000 letterboxes have been placed around North America.
To find a letterbox you head to the websites below - I prefer the Atlas Quest site as I found it much easier to use. Find the letterbox you want to hunt for and open the browser to get the location information and your clue. Using the clue, hunt for your box! Inside the box there will be a little log book as well as stamp, the vast majority of these stamps are handcarved rubber stamps. The idea is that you would stamp the image into your own personal log book that you and your family keep to register your successful hunts and you would stamp your own image on to the log book in the letterbox to let folks know you've been there. You can also write a word or two of thanks and hello.
You don't need a GPS or trinkets. We also didn't take a stamp or ink pad or logbook with us. We just found the letterbox, wrote a little note, placed it back, and went on our way. If we do determine to get seriously in to this, though, I imagine my highly systematic and organized older son will be in to logging these in his personal notebook.
In regards to how this differes from Geocaching, equipment is obviously a big thing. You need less of it to letterbox. I pulled up Atlas Quest on my phone on the way to our location, read the information outloud, and we were good to go. There aren't as many letterboxes as caches to find but the letterboxes are much easier to find, in my opinion. The clues direct you right there.
Letterboxing also seems really geared towards kids. There is a whole letterboxing kids website (see below) and all of the entries in the log book we saw were families hunting. What's not for kids to love, though? It is a huge outdoor treasure hunt!
So if you needed an excuse to get outside, a way to motivate your kids to enjoy the great outdoors, consider letterboxing.