Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Letterboxing Love: Clue into this old-fashioned outdoor activity

Get a clue. Take a hike. And discover letterboxing on a sunny summer afternoon.

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is kind of a live-version Clue. (Think geo-caching without the technology.)This English game date backs to the 1800s but came to North America only recently, boosted in part by an article in Smithsonian magazine.

I love this description tucked inside a letterbox in a local park:
letterboxing with girl scouts
"Letterboxing is an intriguing past time combining artistic ability with delightful "treasure hunts" in beautiful, scenic places. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by following clues, and then recording their discovery in their personal journal with the help of a rubber stamp that's part of the letterbox. In addition, letterboxers have their own personal stamps that they use to stamp into the letterbox's logbook."

earn brownie girl scout letterboxing badge
Brownie Girl Scout letterboxing badge
I first learned about letterboxing when I was a Brownie leader and stumbled on a Letterboxing Badge. My first instinct was "What the heck is letterboxing?" And I'll admit to being hesitant when my co-leader suggested we explore the badge.

As I'm the type of Girl Scout leader who tests everything out before she inflicts it on her scout troop, I did some digging and took my children on a letterboxing hunt in one of our local parks.

I had researched clues online for a couple of locations that were within one park, and printed them off for our reference. Some were very much a treasure-hunt kind of feel (Take 10 steps north, then 350 steps west along the trail.)

Other clues included QR codes posted online or narratives that were much more descriptive in nature, like this one:

There once were some ponies who were great friends. They used to all live close together but one pony moved far away. Due to distance and busy schedules, the ponies don't get to see each other very often. Sadly, the Ponies only get to spend one weekend each year together on Mackinac Island where they frolic and play all around the island gathering letterboxes near and faaarrrrr. Whew, their pony legs get tired walking around and have you ever seen a pony ride a bike?? Now there's a site! :) This summer, two Michigan ponies decided to road-trip down to "Indy" to see thier far off friend. The Ponies spent one whole day letterboxing in Crown Hill Cemetary there. (The third largest non-government cemetary in the country and home to some wonderful letterboxes.) Any time spent together is great, letterboxing together is amazing. Well, before they knew it, it was time for the Michigan ponies to head north again but before they left..... They decided to leave a box near their far-away friend to remind them of the great time they had together. Constructed in 2000, Independence Park is the 13.5 acre home to Indiana's first all-accessible playground area for persons with disabilities. The ponies loved the idea that at this park everyone can play together! (And take time out to find their box!)
From the Parking area, follow the paved path East until you come to the Welcome area. (A sign is posted noting it as such.) Going straight in from the path as far as you can, check behind the shrub just to your left. The Ponies left some math for you to do!

What we discovered - when we were able to find the letterbox (there were admittedly a few duds) were stamps and a log book for past visitors to mark their trail. My daughter took her ink pad and made a copy of the stamp in the letterbox in her letterboxing journal.

letterboxing activities

For kids who normally take long hikes at a set pace, it was definitely a different feel but made for an enjoyable and unique family afternoon!

Ready to get started on a letterboxing adventure? What you need:

  • Time.
  • Clues. Two sites to check out letterboxing locations in your city are and
  • A rubber stamp.
  • A small notebook or journal to mark where you've been along the way!

1 comment:

Michelle Westbrook said...

Thanks for sharing at the Pinterest Love Weekend Pin-It Party :)