A few years back, talking to one of the boys teachers, she told me that a way for her family to get outside was they went Letterboxing. Well I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting things for the family to do so I had her explain.
Letterboxing is a treasure hunts of sorts. People leave boxes hidden in the woods or various places, then leave clues to the box’s whereabouts on a website. The fun doesn’t stop there. Once you find the box, inside is a rubber stamp and a log book. You use that stamp to record in your log book and then use your stamp to record in theirs (we’ll talk more about that in just a minute)…….Have I piqued your interest?
Let’s start form the beginning. In 1854 a guide named James Perrott placed a bottle in the wildest, most inaccessible area in Dartmoor, England, along the banks of Cranmere Pool. In it, he included his calling card so future visitors could contact him and leave their own calling cards.
Over the years the glass bottle was upgraded to a tin box and the calling cards to postcards and in 1905 the logbook was introduced. In July 1907 a man by the name of John H. Strother wrote, “Reached the pool at 7.10pm, misty day with cool breeze, and would suggest that a rubber stamp, something like the post office stamps for postmarking letters or rubber stamp for putting the address at the top of a piece of notepaper be provided and kept here. If this were done it would be proof that cards posted had really come from Cranmere.” This is the Letterbox we recognize of today.
Getting started is really very simple. You need a log book, stamp, stamp pad, pen and some direction or clues. First lets figure out where we want to go. There are two great web pages where you can find your clues. www.atlesquest.com or www.letterboxing.org . You’ll go in and decide on your city then on clues to the box you want to find. People have left boxes all over the world. Before we leave home on a trip we check to see what boxes will be in our area. What a great way to see some off beaten paths.
There are a few other items we need to make your search memorable. You’ll want a way to record your finds. Grab ya a log book, decorate it make it special have fun. Along with a log book, you need a rubber stamp. Some people carve their own stamp and some buy one. Either way it should represent who you are. You’ll need a pen to log the date and maybe a message in the log books and a stamp pad.
There are a few general rules to follow when Letterboxing. One- remember to hide the box in the same place you found it. Let others enjoy the hunt. It’s no fun walking up on a poorly placed box. Two- If you find a box that’s in poor condition or improperly hidden and you can’t fix it, report it back to the owner on the website you retrieved the clues from. That’s just good karma. Three- To quote the Boy Scouts “Leave No Trace”. We are doing this to take time enjoying the natural world. I don’t want to have to pick up your trash or dogs poo while looking for a box. Four- Safety first. Weather it be from the two legged or four legged or even the slithery slimy, your protection need to be priority. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous position. No box is worth it.
Well we’ve gotten down the basics of Letterboxing. You’ve got the essentials to have a great, fun and exciting afternoon. But don’t let your Letterboxing stop there. Try your hand at making and hiding your own box. Find out what is a “Hitchhiker” or try carving your own stamp. Have fun with making this a family outing and see who can collect the most stamps.
What kinda stamp represents you?