Last week I mentioned an end-of-summer adventure I was going to try with my kids: letterboxing. I’ve received a bunch of questions about letterboxing, so here is my rudimentary explanation of what it is:

People all over the world put together boxes containing a blank book, a pen, a rubber stamp and an ink pad. They hide the water-proof box in public place (like a park) and then post clues on how to find it on the internet. Letterboxers look up the clues and search out the book, stamping their own books with the stamp they find and making a mark with their own stamp in the letterbox’s book. I hear there are over 20,000 boxes hidden in North America alone. (You can find lots more information at letterboxing.org. This article was especially helpful.)

I was supposed to go with three friends — local letterboxing experts. But I was slow to get the kids up and going that day and we missed our chance to meet them. (Next time girls! Really.) So that my kids wouldn’t collapse from disappointment, we ended up letterboxing on our own. And we’re hooked!!

We packed a letterboxing kit before we left:
ink pads
blank book
a canvas bag to carry our kit

Luckily, I had all of this on hand. If letterboxing had required a trip to the store that day, I’m afraid it wouldn’t have happened. Apparently, many letterboxers prefer to make their own stamp — just the kind of project I love — but was glad I had these pretty insect ones on hand for our first try.

We found the box after following all the clues — which happened to lead us on an in-depth walk around one of our favorite parks. We stamped our book, and made some notes and added a green leaf and a red leaf to our book as reminders that our adventure was at the end of summer and start of fall. We put a snail stamp into the letterbox’s book (because we were so slow to find it) and our thumbprints as well.

We especially loved realizing there was a letterbox hidden in a place we already knew and loved. And further realizing there were probably letterboxes at many of our favorite haunts. For our family, I can imagine this being a perfect Sunday afternoon hobby.


21 thoughts on “Letterboxing”

  1. It sounds a lot like geocaching, but much less technical. We’ll have to give it a try in the midwest! Hopefully we can find one here. I’m sure my kids would love it! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This sounds like an almost free way to have fun! Can’t go wrong with that! I looked up my area and there are quite a few around… this is going to be a new tradition/hobby for my family. THANKS!!

  3. WOW! What fun! My daughter is just coming on 2 but I think that this would be amazing fun for all of us!

    There are lots of letterboxes hidden within 30 minutes of our house – two with connecting themes!

    Thanks for the link!

  4. we enjoyed some letterboxing in utah this summer…my kids LOVE it and since they are everywhere, it suddenly puts a whole new angle on road trips! we will plan rest stops to coincide with a letterbox when possible.

    don’t forget that the locations are to be kept a secret and that stamping should be done discreetly.

  5. Before the Internet LB was already popular, especially in Great Britain I believe. For the seriously hardcore, finding the box might require longitude/latitude coordinates or a topographical map. Fun!!

  6. Fantastic idea! My son isn’t old enough yet, but I’m already trying to plan a letterboxing activity for the group of young women I am in charge of at church. Thank you!

  7. we started letterboxing after my 5 year old was born, but haven’t done any since we moved to utah. we need to get out more. i much prefer it to geocaching. it seems a little more down to earth. thanks for reminding me of this fun pasttime.

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