Friday, August 2, 2013

Adventures in Letterboxing

I understand that geocaching is the big thing now, but my kiddos and I are pretty old-school.

We like letterboxing.

It's like searching for pirate's treasure, this following of clues to find the letterbox cache. And it's really kid-friendly! The girls each have their own hand-carved stamp--
Willow's stamp
Syd's stamp
 --and once I get them to the correct starting location, they can follow all the clues independently.

Of course, since letterboxing is old and somewhat out of style by now, not all the letterboxes are current. The girls were REALLY disappointed, for instance, when the letterbox for The Bridge behind the Child simply wasn't there anymore, and they kept coming back to the spot over and over, searching again and again just in case they'd missed it the last time. Fortunately, all our local letterboxes are in pretty great spots, and often in places where we've never been before, so even though they didn't get to find a letterbox here, they did get to stalk deer--
This is Willow, stalking a deer.

--and do some creek stomping--

--and play on a playground:

It's even more exciting, though, when the letterbox pans out, and after following all the clues and a bit of searching--

--you find one!

You have to carry your own ink pad for the stamps, and a pen or pencil to write the date and a short message in the logbook:

The girls stamp the letterbox's stamp into their nature journals, and add a few sentences about the adventure while I look through the logbook and check out everyone else's stamps--
the founder of this letterbox

--and then we sneakily hide the letterbox again in the same spot, and surreptitiously make our way back to the well-trodden path.

I considered letterboxing on our recent road trip, but a friend who also tends to take long road trips said that she and her kids used to geocache on their trips, and it turned into a huge time suck for them--they'd think they were stopping for fifteen minutes to check out a quick geocache, but then that would turn into forty minutes, and then there'd be another cool-looking geocache just right near by that they might as well check out since they were in the area, and all of a sudden that fifteen-minute break to stretch their legs while finding a geocache had turned into half the day, and there was no way they were making it to their camping site that night.

That sounds SO like something that I would do, especially considering that one of our fifteen-minute local letterboxes can easily take half the day, what with climbing trees, following interesting-looking ants, playing on a strange playground, eating a snack on the grass, drawing dragons in the nature journals, grubbing in the dirt, etc.

That's a productive day for a couple of homeschooling kids, but a letterboxing road trip is probably out of the question.

For now...


Tina said...

We have gone letterboxing once. Why only once, I have no idea. Probably because I'm lazy. But, I am going to have to see what there is around here for letterboxes and get off my butt.

Thanks for the motivation!

Oh, and I think looking for a letter box close to wherever you plan to spend the night on a road trip would be a pretty cool way to document the journey.

julie said...

I LOVE the idea of letterboxing where you spend the night! When I travel with the girls I try to stop pretty early, so that the girls can have a consistent dinnertime and bedtime, which is important for their stamina and overall happiness on the trip, but if the hotel doesn't have a pool, they often resort to roughhousing or watching cable TV. Encouragement to get out and do something fun for a bit (and perhaps find a playground) in the evening would be so great!