Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Fun With Kids: Letterboxing

I'm really excited to have Monica, from Monica's Mom Musings here today to share a fun post for the Summer Fun with Kids Series.

Monica's Mom MusingsMonica is a SAHM to four children ranging in age from toddler to teen. She lives in CT with her husband of 12 years. Monica blogs over at Monica's Mom Musings about her thoughts on parenting. She also shares the struggles of each of these different stages of childhood (toddlers, preschoolers, preteens, and teens) and works really hard to keep everyone entertained. Not always an easy task with such a huge age gap and capabilities of each of her children.

  Letterboxing? What is that? When letters fight each other? Or maybe capturing letters in boxes? I know when I first heard of this I was curious about it. What it is though is a wonderful past time which combines navigational skills with rubber stamps. Basically, you go out into the world (most likely the woods) and search for boxes with the given clues and then you stamp a log book when you have found it.

My First Time

The first time I did this was with a friend a few years ago. We had gone to a local state park for some swimming and fishing. She was very into Letterboxing and had found out that there was a letterbox in this state park. So after we spent some time swimming we went for a hike into the woods. In our flip flops mind you not realizing that we were going to be taken on a trek up a mountain and through some very precarious situations. I remember thinking at the time I'm glad my son (who wasn't even 2 yet and still very unsure on his feet) stayed with my husband and went fishing because pushing the stroller would have been next to impossible. We came stumbling out of the woods filthy, physically exhausted, bug bitten, but proud. Proud because we had accomplished something we didn't think we could when we were about halfway through this excursion. And let me just clarify, that this particular letterbox was one of the harder ones. Usually people mark the difficulty in finding the boxes, but this one didn't say.

What You Need To Letterbox

There are a few things you should have with you when you go letterboxing. Before you start you need to know where to find the letterboxes to begin with. So check the letterboxing website for that. Once you have that here's a list of other helpful tools when letterboxing:
  • A book to put stamps in.
  • A pen to write notes under the stamps
  • A compass (sometimes you are given directional coordinates to follow)
  • Your camera because you are sure to find something beautiful along the way that you need to take a picture of
  • An ink pad
  • Your own stamp
  • A small bag to carry all of this in
I do not yet have my own stamp for letterboxing. Even though I had done this with my middle daughter and my girlfriend a few years ago I haven't been able to convince anyone else to try it with me so we haven't done letterboxes regularly. However, when I was invited to be a part of this summer fun with kids, I knew that I had to do letterboxing and I had to do it on our vacation this past week. So when I did it this time we just wrote in the log books who we were and where we were from. I think my new project for this week is going to be to find my instructions on how to make my own rubber stamp and create something with the family because in spite of their apprehension to try this last week, they had a lot of fun with it and want to do more. So we need a stamp.

Letterboxing In New Hampshire

So last Thursday we had a nice sunny day that was a little too cool to go swimming. So armed with our sneakers and our clues we headed out to a letterbox. This one only had one box. Some will have more boxes for you to find or mini boxes with a final box at the end that has a log book, but since everyone was hesitant about this to begin with I wanted to go easy.

Woods Walk Letterbox

I scoured the letterboxing site for something local to where we were staying that said it was going to be easy to do. After all we were trekking into the woods with a 17 month old and a 4 year old. I found the perfect one which even instructed us to check out this look out before we actually started.
Lookout at the canoe launch for the Woods Walk Letterbox.
 We began our trek through the woods. Over the bridge and through the woods a letterboxing we go...
It did end up being a longer walk that I anticipated it would be, but it was a relatively easy walk and everything was panning out as it was saying it would including this hand lettered sign
"Welcome to Nature's Cove"...
And just beyond this point was the final clue and hidden in the trees was this box...
Inside was a stamp and a log book along with a stamp pad so we were able to place the stamp on our note paper. On the top of the box it says:
THIS IS NOT TRASH! You have found the woods walk letterbox. Please do not destroy any of the contents and replace where found hidden from view. Learn more at
Most letterboxes you will find in a Tupperware container like this. Best way to keep them protected from the elements. While we were in this spot on the trail we also got a chance to explore the river a little more.

Denmark Memorial Fitness Trail

The very next day was another cool day and since everyone enjoyed letterboxing the day before so much we did it again. This time I found one that had 5 boxes. Four mini boxes and then the final box had the log book. This one was on a fitness trail... [caption id="attachment_1267" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="13 year old and 4 year old ready to start"]
 We even got to do some exercising on this letterbox.

Shortly after this we found the first mini letterbox...We only ended up finding one more mini letterbox. Two of them were missing which is very frustrating, but when we got to the final letterbox that had a log book we found that we weren't the only ones who had trouble finding the other mini letterboxes. It happens. But here were our stamps from all of the letterboxes we did while we were in New Hampshire last week...
"Stamps from New Hampshire Letterboxing"

 Writing around them like this so you know when and where they were found help to keep everything remembered. What a great memento we have now from our vacation and the best part is this was completely free to do. It doesn't get much better than that. Oh and in case you were wondering how my 17 month old did, well I wore her on a baby carrier for both of these. So there was no struggling with strollers or a toddler who would have had a difficult time walking along the trail. It was a wonderful time. Are you ready to give letterboxing a try?

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