Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... painting by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Summer Fun #82: Letterboxing


September 2010, Turner's Creek, Maryland
LETTERBOXING is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. A wide variety of adventures can be found to suit all ages and experience levels. 
September 2013, Tuckahoe State Park, Maryland
Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. However, clues to finding some of the most highly-sought boxes are passed around by word of mouth. There are about 20,000 letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual letterboxes usually contain a log book, an often hand-carved rubber stamp and may contain an ink pad. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox's logbook .
September 2013, Tuckahoe State Park, Maryland
Letterboxing is said to have started in England in 1854 when a Dartmoor National Park guide, James Perrott of Chagford, left a bottle by Cranmere Pool with his calling card in it an an invitation to those who found the bottle to add theirs. Eventually, visitors began leaving a self-addressed post card or note in the jar, hoping for them to be returned by mail by the next visitor (thus the origin of the term “letterboxing;” “letterbox” is a British term for a mailbox). This practice ended in time, however, and the current custom of using rubber stamps and visitor’s log books came into use. It caught on in the US in 1998 after an article in Smithsonian magazine.
August 2014, Chesapeake City, Maryland

To get started, you’ll need a “trail name,” rubber stamp, pencil or pen, small sketch book, one or more ink pads or brush markers, a simple compass, and clues.
August 2014, Chesapeake City, Maryland
The primary web site for letterboxing clues is www.letterboxing.org. Another popular web site is www.atlasquest.com. Once you find the clues to a letterbox that you’d like to find, read it carefully and try to locate and print out a trail map of the area in which you’ll be hiking.
September 2010, Turner's Creek, Maryland
Sometimes you’ll search for the letterbox and not be able to find it. It could either be missing or simply difficult to find. Although this can sometimes be frustrating, just remember the great time you’ve had with the hike and the hunt, even if you don’'t find the letterbox.

The letterbox container will typically be some type of plastic food storage container, although many types can be used, as long as they’re watertight. Some containers are very small, such as a film canister, or may be disguised as a rock or some other natural feature.
August 2014, Chesapeake City, Maryland
Inside the letterbox you’ll find a log book and rubber stamp. You may also find an ink pad and pen or pencil. Stamp the imprint of your personal stamp into the letterbox’s log book and write in your letterboxing name, home town, and date. You're welcome to add an additional message in the log book about your experience finding the letterbox as well.
September 2010, Turner's Creek, Maryland
Next, stamp the imprint of the letterbox’s stamp in your personal log book. You might also add the name of the letterbox, who created it, and the date that you found it. Some people also like to add a little note about their experience into their personal log book.

September 2013, Tuckahoe State Park, Maryland

Once you've finished “stamping up,” be sure to seal any plastic bags and the letterbox container itself carefully and replace it as you would hope to find it: completely hidden from view, with contents protected from the elements. Water is the biggest threat to letterboxes. If a letterbox is found damaged, please notify its owner. It's a good idea to carry some extra pint and quart size plastic freezer bags to replace bags that may no longer be watertight.
September 2010, Turner's Creek, Maryland
Planting your own letterbox is exciting, but it’s best to get started by finding a number of letterboxes before creating your own.


1 comment:

  1. I keep meaning to try this hobby out...but have just never quite gotten around to it. It sounds like a lot of fun.

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