Image by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski; 12frames.eu
Part mystery, part scavenger hunt, part pirate pastime- letterboxing is a great way to get some fresh air and add a little adventure to your hikes.
What is letterboxing? Well, it’s a hobby similar to Geocashing, except that it utilizes a set of mysterious directions in place of the GPS. It’s been extremely popular in England for quite some time, but didn’t catch on in the US until the 1990’s. In short, you hop on to a letterboxing site to find some boxes that have been planted in your area. You will need to make up a neat nickname for yourself (or your group/family), get a “logbook”, and buy or make a stamp that represents you well. Following the clues and instructions found online, you locate a box, which will contain it’s own stamp, a log, and possibly some other cool things. You use your stamp on the log in the box, and use the stamp from the box to record your visit in your logbook. It’s best to put a date next to both stamps.
Later, you’ll have a record of all of the places you’ve visited, and the person who planted the box can see who has been there. This is a great activity (especially for boys) which may help you to see your area in a new way, and maybe find some spots you’ve never seen before. It’s also fun to take your stamp and book on vacation with you to get stamps from different states (or countries!).
*BONUS!* Besides the initial cost of the few supplies, and some gas–letterboxing is FREE!
Here are a couple of sites to help you get started:
http://www.letterboxing.org/ (on the top you can see the tab “Getting Started” which is a good place to….get started)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_%28hobby%29 (This wiki has a little more detailed info on the different kinds of boxes, etc. You may want to wait to read this one!)
Once you’ve found all of the letterboxes in your area (or if there aren’t many), maybe you’ll want to go out and plant some for others to find. Now go out there and have fun!