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Treasure Hunting

May 1, 2010

One lazy day when my son was just a newborn, as I browsed around online while he snoozed quietly on my lap in a milk-induced haze, I came across a reference to something called Letterboxing, and was intrigued from the start.

Clues to letterboxes can be found online (Letterboxing North America and Atlasquest are the two most expansive databases).  You follow these clues to find a letterbox, which is a small, waterproof container that holds a log book and a stamp. Once you find this box, you add your personal stamp to that logbook, and add the stamp found in the box to your own logbook. Basically, its like a treasure hunt, minus the pirates’ booty.

Letterboxing sounded like a fun, inexpensive hobby for my husband and I, and something that would be exciting to include Shane in as he got older. We’d get outdoors in the fresh air, we’d get some exercise (both physical and mental!), and we’d be enjoying nature while working together as a family.

We set out that very weekend, with Shane on my back and clues in hand. Deep within a local conservation area that we had never before explored, we found our first letterbox…and we’ve been hooked ever since.  We’ve found countless boxes as a family, and even planted two of our own.  We’ve found letterboxes in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire while on vacation, and found letterboxes hidden within our own town.

Over the past two years I’ve never gone out in search of a letterbox with just my son, until yesterday.

: : : : : : :

Starting off on our journey.

Pausing to listen to birdsong…where could it be hiding?
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While he’s still too young to actually help figure out the clues,
Shane was thrilled to help “find” and carry the box.
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While I took care of stamping in the logbooks, Shane snagged a blank index card from my kit and settled down to create some outdoor art with our markers.
(Note to self — pick up an inexpensive blank notebook to serve as a nature journal!)

Once we had the letterbox safely rehidden, we took some time to explore the area.
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A “Big Bil-bim!” (the base of what was once a fifty-foot watchtower).

The view from the hilltop looking out over the marshland was spectacular.

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If you’re interested in learning more about letterboxing, Letterboxing.Info is an extensive resource for those new to the hobby.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2010 9:44 am

    I absolutely LOVE this idea! I’m planning our first geocache hunt later this month as part of a blogger challenge & this sounds pretty similar. Think the boys are gonna love it!

    • May 2, 2010 11:12 am

      I’ve never been geocaching, but I’ve heard it’s similar. If I’m understanding right, geocaching is a bit more “high-tech” since you need a hand-held GPS to locate the caches. And in geocaching, you leave a trinket and take a trinket from the box. In letterboxing, you find the box using written clues, and like I said above, all you exchange are impressions of stamps.

      Have fun with the blogger challenge — I’m eager to read more about that! And I’d like to give geocaching a try someday down the road, but we don’t have a hand-held GPS right now so I guess that’ll have to wait a bit.

  2. May 2, 2010 11:48 am

    Thanks for distinguishing between the two activities. I’m not very high-tech myself & will be borrowing a GPS for our first experiment with geocaching. And thanks to you, I’m adding letterboxing to our list of future adventures. My 5 1/2 year old loves treasure hunts & stamps, so I think it would definitely be his speed.

    • May 2, 2010 12:04 pm

      I bet you’ll have so much fun! Your son could even make his own stamp using craft foam — There’s easy instructions online, and I’ve seen the stamp images in several log books!
      It sounds pretty straight-forward, but here’s some instructions, if it’s something he (and you) would be interested in: http://www.letterboxing.info/articles/00000022.php

  3. May 2, 2010 1:46 pm

    Sounds like much fun! I love that Shane got into it too! Looks like he had a blast 🙂

  4. May 2, 2010 8:13 pm

    I’ve heard of this before and think it sounds really interesting. The photos here are beautiful…especially that last one!

  5. May 3, 2010 6:38 am

    This looks like really good fun. I wonder if they do it here in Australia? I will have to look into it. I think you will be starting up your own little boxes to add to the network of letterboxes!!!

  6. May 4, 2010 3:05 pm

    What a cool idea!! That is a great hobby to get involved with.

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