I'm probably the last person that should be talking to you about Letterboxing, since I have never done it. But ignorance has never stopped me from writing before. . .
I just heard about this hobby (overheard, if I were being honest), and I was hooked immediately. If you like the outdoors, treasure hunts, art or collecting things, this is the hobby for you. It is very simple, and inexpensive (as hobbies go).
Letterboxing means that you get a set of clues (I'll tell you how to do that in a second), and you go where the clues lead you. This may be a local park, or a hiking trail. You follow the clues in search of a "treasure box". In the treasure box, you will find a visitor's book and a rubber stamp. You use the rubber stamp from the treasure box to mark your "journal" and you leave your own stamp or mark in the visitors book. As you find different treasure boxes, your own log book will fill up with stamps, kind of like a passport or a memory book of some great hikes.
Can I tell you I love this idea?! A few years ago, I used to take my kids on "Family Hikes" often with my good friend, Heike, and her children. My husband, the die-hard Boy Scouter, says they were more like "Family Walks" than Hikes. . .whatever, My Love. One of my fondest memories is of going to Maple Lake during different seasons and observing the changes there. Another memory is of Heike and the boys going off the trail and scaling the mountain while I stayed behind (with the babes and toddlers), bit my nails and pretended I wasn't scared to death for them. Yes, Heike is the braver of the two of us. One of my sons still bares the 3 inch scar on his scalp from one of our less successful excursions. (That day, Holly was with me, not Heike.) A hike in well named Rock Canyon. He was just a toddler and while we were taking a short break, he climbed up on a boulder. As I was reaching for him, saying, "No, Honey, you'll fall." Sure enough, he fell. What a day! Do take your First Aid kit when you go out!
I haven't been on a Family Hike/Walk in a long time and I miss it. Part of the reason we haven't gone is because I am really more comfortable navigating my way around the Net, or the local bookstore than the trails. . .so without a buddy like Heike, I just didn't know where to go. One of the things I love about the Letterboxing hobby is that it solved this problem!
I just went to www.atlasquest.com. On the blue bar, I clicked on Letterboxes. That opened up a new page with a map and I clicked on my state, then chose a local city. After a little browsing, I now have 5 or 6 new hike locations with directions not only to the site, but to a treasure box. What could be better than that? All I need now is a tank of gas and a sack lunch!
Another reason I haven't been on any hikes for awhile is I didn't want to take the little kids out alone (when you have a Rock Creek incident it is nice to have another adult to help). Now my oldest is 14 and taller than I am. He and my second oldest, 12, are fine young men, and have both taken first aid in Boy Scouts. So I'm ready to venture out again.
I think all my children will love the 'treasure hunt' idea too. Who could resist it? Whether you associate it with Leprechauns or Pirates, "hidden treasure" appeals to everyone! Once you have some clues printed out, then get an inkpad, and some kind of journal to keep your stamp collection. You are ready to go! Letterboxers usually have a rubber stamp (bought or handmade as you wish) to leave their mark in the "visitor book". I like this tip from Atlasquest: New letterboxers often use a thumbprint signature temporarily until they acquire a real trail name and signature stamp. Be creative...make your thumbprint into a smiley face, an animal, a flower...whatever you want!
Guess what my kids and I are doing this Memorial Day! Hey, Heike...I challenge you to a Letterboxing Contest. Let's see who can collect the most stamps by the end of the summer. Anyone else want to join us?