Saturday, April 21, 2012

Letterboxing: Active, Inexpensive & Creative Fun for Your Family

I'm always on the lookout for FUN, FAMILY-Oriented activities that are FREE and focus on FITNESS in some capacity.  Several years ago I learned about Letterboxing through an article in Family Fun Magazine and instantly fell in love with it!  Letterboxing fits all four of my criteria - it's a lot of FUN, the entire FAMILY can participate, it's basically FREE and you can't do it sitting on your couch (there's the FITNESS focus!). 

Letterboxing (similar to geocaching minus the use of a GPS or compass) is a treasure hunt.  You follow clues that lead you to a hidden box.  There are thousands of boxes hidden all over the world in places such as the woods, coffee shops, cemeteries, ballparks, and even highway rest stops.  Some are easy to find while others involve a several mile hike or bike ride.  Clues can be found at or on the "Letterboxing North America" Facebook page. 

My family on a Letterboxing adventure in
Mosquito Lake State Park in Cortland, Ohio

Before starting out on your first hunt, you'll need to gather or purchase a few items:
1) a journal - This can be a simple spiral notebook or a fancy journal.  Choose whatever works best for you and your family's budget! 
2) a rubber stamp - On the Letterboxing website there are instructions about making your own rubber stamp or you can buy one at a craft store.  You can also find them at the dollar store!  The website encourages you to make or buy one that symbolizes your family.  The stamp that we use is a country-style patchwork heart with four different patterns in the heart. 
3) an ink pad - This can be purchased at the craft store, any office supply store or also found at the dollar store.
4) a pen (You can Letterbox without the other three items, but I'd at least make sure you have a pen with you!)

Once you've selected a box to look for, print out the directions or bookmark it on your phone (Keep in mind, that in some wooded locations you may not have access to the internet!) and head out to begin the fun!  When you locate the box you are searching for, you'll find a journal and a rubber stamp.  You'll stamp your stamp in the box's journal and the box's stamp in your journal along with writing a brief note.  It's neat to look through the journal to see how many other people have found that box and where they are from.

JJ found the Letterbox we were searching for
inside the trunk of a fallen tree.

Writing in the Letterbox's journal

Besides the fitness aspect of Letterboxing, there is also the educational aspect - problem solving, math and history to name a few!  Plus, your family can also create and hide your own Letterbox.  That's something I'd like my family to do someday.

We've been Letterboxing since JJ and Ellie were little.  While they grumble a bit when I mention Letterboxing today, as you can see from the pictures, once we get started they still get into the excitement of the hunt!

I encourage you to give it a try.  I know your family will enjoy it as much as we do.  Happy Hunting!

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