Thursday, November 14, 2013

Letterboxing - A Fun Outdoor Activity for the Whole Family!

Does the state of the economy have you looking for a free activities to enjoy as a family? If so, you should give letterboxing a try. Letterboxing combines treasure hunting, puzzle solving, and a bit of art into an fun-filled activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.What is Letterboxing? At the most basic level, a letterbox is a container holding a logbook and a rubber stamp. The container is hidden, usually in a wooded location, and clues are distributed to help others locate it. Letterboxes are commonly hidden in city or state parks along trails.Each letterbox participant has their own signature stamp, either purchased or hand-carved. Participants use their signature stamp to mark the letterbox logbook and prove they found it. They then use the stamp that was in the letterbox to imprint their own logbook as a record of their journeys.Letterbox clues can range from simple to complex. Some clues require you to use a compass. Other times the clue uses landmarks to direct you to the letterbox. You may have to solve a puzzle to figure out where the letterbox is located. Clues can be hidden in a poem, written in Morse code, or even hidden in a word puzzle. You will quickly discover there is no end to the creativity.Choosing a Letterboxing Trail NameTo get started letterboxing, you will first need to come up with a trail name. You may want to choose something that represents you or something that is important to you. Get creative with your trail name! Coming up with the perfect nickname can be a lot of fun. You can even choose to have a different trail name for every member of your family.What do you need to get started with letterboxing? To begin, you will need a signature rubber stamp to mark the logs, a logbook to record your finds, a stamp pad, and a pen. You can either purchase a rubber stamp or carve one of your own. Your logbook can be as simple as a small spiral bound notebook. If you are artistic, you can make your own logbook using scrapbooking supplies.It is a good idea to use a small backpack or fanny pack to carry your letterboxing necessities. You can also include a few basic first aid supplies in your pack such as band-aids, pain reliever, and first aid cream. A small bottle of hand sanitizer and a bag of baby wipes are also a good addition to your pack. Tweezers are a great inclusion if you are going to be letterboxing in an area that has ticks. Be sure to bring a snack and water bottles for everyone if it will be a long hike.Where do you find the letterboxing clues?There are two main websites where you can find clues - Atlas Quest and Letterboxing North America. Both sites allow you to search by location, so it is easy to find letterboxes that are nearby. To search on Letterboxing North America, click on either clues or search for boxes. The clues link will bring up a clickable map that you can use to navigate to the exact area you want to visit. The search for boxes link will allow you to narrow your search by city or other criteria. I prefer to use the map as it has the letterboxes grouped by county. To search on Atlas Quest, use their search box on the right side of the home page. You can also select the simple search link from the top menu. Atlas Quest will return all letterboxes within a specified distance from the location you search.Letterboxing allows you to explore places you would have never known existed, sometimes right in your own hometown! As an added bonus, you get to enjoy the fresh air and get a little bit of exercise. Letterboxing is an inexpensive activity that is great fun for the whole family.

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