A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to a great family activity: letterboxing. For the children, letterboxing is a treasure hunt; for parents, it’s a chance to get out and have fun with your kids.
Letterboxing involves following clues (posted online) to a small plastic box hidden in a public place, such as a state or city park. Inside the box is a small notepad, a rubber stamp with a design, and sometimes a pen. For our first hunt, we decided to look for a mermaid stamp that had been hidden in our nearby state park. The clue we printed off made it even more fun – the author had written it as a story about the mermaid and her travels through the woods.
We took along a small notepad of our own, a rubber stamp I had on hand, and a marker to ink the stamp. My children were extra excited by this treasure hunt because my college-aged niece was going with us. We found the landmarks mentioned in the story, though some were a little trickier to find than others.
We worked at it for about an hour, all the while talking and sharing and enjoying our time together. We eventually found the mermaid stamp at the top of a hill, tucked under a rock in a small plastic box. We took out the stamp, inked it with our marker, and stamped our own notebook with it. Then we took out our stamp, inked it, and stamped the little notebook that was in the box. We signed and dated it as well, so the owner of the mermaid stamp would know that we had been there. Before we left, we returned everything to the box, sealed it, and hid it again where we had found it, so other letterboxers could have a turn.
To make our next adventures even more fun, I made a little booklet for each child out of plain white paper to collect stamps in, as well as their very own rubber stamp to take along. You can also make your own stamps with custom designs. My friend has even put together her own letterboxes to hide and posted the clues online.