Friday, July 17, 2009

More About Letterboxing

I have to say that Letterboxing has become a place where all of my family has come together this summer. And, that is saying a lot. With 4 kids all headed in different directions, with different friends, and interests, it's such a bonus to find something that we all enjoy and can do together.

I'm including some photos of the things we have seen along the way:

I love how the clouds reflect in the lake, ahead of the colorful kayaks.

The stark white of this purple martin house against the blue of the sky really caught my eye.

Who wouldn't want to walk over this bridge?

Momma bluebird bringing home lunch for her babies.

A woodland flower in blazing orange.

A single orange kayak on a blue lake.

Old military planes flying in formation. There is a small airport nearby and these guys were showing off.

The history of letterboxing is interesting, a park ranger in England started this game in the late 1800's. The process has evolved a lot to become what it is today.

Here's how it works: We have a notebook, a (preferably) handmade stamp that is unique to us, and a "Trail Name" or "Handle".

We then go seeking Letterboxes. (I find trail directions and maps at: Atlas Quest, or The boxes are typically a Tupperware type container that includes a notebook and a custom made stamp. When I find a box, I then stamp their book with my stamp, date it, and leave a brief note including where we are from. I take their stamp and mark my log book, date it and leave a note if I'd like. It's like collecting a log book full of handmade individual works of art. We always make sure that we re-hide the box as we found it. When I return home, I log our finds on the appropriate web site. The people who "Plant" the letterboxes can keep track of their boxes this way, find out if they need repairs, or just get a quick update on who's been visiting.

Letterboxing is very kid friendly. Directions often include such things as: " Find the triple trunked maple, put your back to it, and facing the lake, walk 12 paces". Letterboxes can be just a stop in the road, or they can be elaborate trails with multiple boxes. My favorites are trails that have been put together by generous letterboxers who have included information about the history of the area, or little anecdotes about what happened along the trail. It's one thing to read about an event, and another to be standing in front of a Harmonist Meeting House that was built in 1825. History becomes real.

My husband has always been an outdoorsman. He would often go hunting just so that he could sit in the quiet and still of the woods in the wee hours; watching the forest wake up. I have always loved hiking and being outside.

Searching for Letterboxes has become about the journey for me. Maybe I have found some center on that point this summer. Life is about the journey. The kids, on the other hand, still tear through the woods gripping the printed page, looking for the triple trunked maple! For them,it's about the destination. We all get an adventure. I get some time alone with the kids, talking and walking. The kids get to find treasure! Letterboxing has become a real haven for my famiy.

The things we have discussed along the way are: tree identification, animal tracks, and the all important poison ivy identification. We've also seen beavers, bunnies, hawks and lots more. But we also talk with the kids about their hopes and dreams, their friends, their good days and their bad.
And the kids talk about their "finds".


the treat girl said...

Oh....thank you, thank you!!!! I told Chip all about it the other night and it has been on my mind all week is busy, busy...but I'm hoping to print out some hikes to have handy to do with the kids until Chip can navigate around better on his ankle. I'll keep you "posted" :)

girlinthesticks said...

I love your photos and we can't wait to get week!

Nancy said...

Ok, now you have me hooked! I went to the Letterbox website and there is one near would be my practice round until I get set up! I only wish my kids were younger. We have done a lot of day tripping through the years but they would have loved this! Luckily, they are willing to give it a go...

marzipanmom said...

My kids love it too- and even though they think it's all about finding the hidden treasure,we can know that there's all those other benefits too. Thanks for introducing us to this fun hobby! And see my post scheduled for the next day or two-you'll see!

Jennifer Juniper said...

It is fun. We will have to plan a letterboxing smackdown :)

Denise @ Life on Stepping Stone Lane said...

How fun! My girls would have loved doing this when they were younger. I love that this is something you can do with your whole family! There just doesn't seem to be enough of that these days!!