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Real Letterboxing

October 2, 2008

I’ve mentioned letterboxing before, but I’ll go over it again for any of you who don’t know what letterboxing is. Letterboxing is an activity that utilizes problem solving and orienteering skills in finding hidden letterboxes. Letterboxes contain one or more stamps and a log book. The letterboxer has their own personal stamp and log book and brings a pen or pencil to write notes in either log book, if they wish and a compass. You can find letterboxes in all 50 states and many other countries. You probably have several in your town. Atlas Quest is a great website to search for letterboxes near you or any places you plan on traveling to. This would be a great activity to do on a road trip! The concept is simple. You get a clue to where a letterbox is hidden (it could be in a county or city park, a library, book store, coffee shop, restaurant, wine tasting room, really any public place!), gather your letterboxing supplies, head out to the destination, follow the clues and find the box. Take the box a short bit away from the hiding place for discretion, then you stamp your stamp into the letterbox log and write the date and your trail name, stamp the letterbox stamp into your log and write the date and place if you wish, repackage the letterbox as well or better than you found it, re-hide it exactly where you found it and then find another, because you will want to find another. This is a great family activity because it helps kids to flex their problem solving skills and get the family outdoors and spending time together. And who doesn’t like a scavenger hunt type activity? It’s like finding hidden treasure!

So, you probably wonder why I bring it up now. I am lucky enough to have a friend who is a very active letterboxer. She has hidden many of the boxes in our town and carves lots of stamps, she was even so kind to carve a personal one for our family last summer for our county-sponsored version of letterboxing, called tangleboxing. This friend did a letterboxing activity for our homeschool group on Tuesday. She provided bags of carving tools and materials and hid six boxes specifically for our group in a city park. It was a fabulous afternoon of crafting and then tromping around the park in search of the boxes and we also had super weather, which can be hit or miss this time of year.

These are the stamps that the girls and I carved. The two red ones are for the two little girls. Isabel’s is a duck and Juliana’s is a pig. I carved Juliana’s completely and Isabel’s mostly, though she did a bit of the carving after watching me. Maddy did one stamp and then started letterboxing (I think, though I’m not sure, because she left us and hung with her friends the whole time). After a bit she decided that she didn’t like her stamp and did a new one. She asked that I not share the first because apparently she is very un-thrilled with her first attempt. After carving, we all chose trail names to accompany the stamp. This is done partly for creativity and partly for safety reasons so that people are signing their real names into all these log books. Usually a trail name has something to do with one’s stamp. For instance, a cat stamp might have the trail name of “Cat’s Meow”. Some families do incorporate their surname into their family trail name. After the carving, we set off in groups to find the six hidden letterboxes. And the fun continued well past the time I had thought we would leave.

Lest you think that you can’t accomplish these carvings because you have no artistic skills, I assure you that if you can trace, you can carve a nice-looking stamp. It seems like a mysterious talent, but like anything else, once the steps are explained, pretty much anybody can do it. If you attempt to carve your own stamp and try letterboxing you may become addicted. Maddy has informed us that she would like to start placing letterboxes so that she will have a legitimate reason to keep carving stamps. I hope to carve my own in the near future, but need to get my hands on more carving material. We have the carving nibs now, so we can easily carve more.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rane permalink
    October 3, 2008 2:04 am

    What is this for? Why do you do
    it? why not use your name?
    Why hide it? Just wondering….
    thanks.
    Rane

  2. Lisa permalink
    October 4, 2008 3:33 pm

    It’s just a hobby. They are hidden so other can find them! Some people don’t want to use their name because they feel uncomfortable having their real names out everywhere, much like people use screen names online.

  3. Rane permalink
    October 5, 2008 1:25 pm

    Oh I see, I was just wondering.
    Thank you for letting me to
    understand.
    Sounds fun!

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