Letterboxing with kids.

Letterboxing is a great way to teach children about maps, geography, history, and long-term gratification while hiking around this beautiful world. One might even go so far as to think that it was invented by wood nymphs as a way to play and interact with munchkins. What is it and why is Alina madly in love?

It is a national treasure hunt with pretend identities and aesthetic rewards plus the thrill and skill of orienteering. Some have called it “a thinking man’s treasure hunt”. According to Letterboxing North America:

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 .

The history behind letterboxing:

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.

Thanks to this wonderful accessible website, I created a printable document to help you get started on letterboxing. Print, share, and make a day of it.

Some letterboxing trail names we found in Ohio.

And while you’re at it…

  • Alabama letterboxes, locations and info on letterboxes all over the state
  • Alabama mystery letterboxes
  • AtlasQuest, one of the premier letterboxing sites online and very child-friendly. Create an account and add us as friends- CoryellCastle, of course.
  • Letterboxing glossary includes terms and vocabulary used by letterboxers
  • Code of Conduct, the implicit rules and conduct behind the game
  • Silent Doug’s website on letterboxing
  • “Tina’s Big Adventure”, a story to introduce kids to letterboxing
  • Online letterboxing game, allows kids to try their hand at compasses and orienteering
  • Compassing 101, a how-to on using compasses in orienteering
  • Letterbox with kids, a great little piece from trekaroo
  • Letterboxing photo albums with kids, shows kids in action
  • Letterboxing at National Geographic Kids
  • How to plant your own letterbox, instructions and details
  • Creating great letterboxes, tips and tricks of the trade

Craft but not least- letterbox crafts and activities to enthuse your munchkins:

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