Monday, August 5, 2013

Letterboxing, Part 1

The first time I heard the term "Letterboxing" was in the Facebook status of one of my friends.  She and her children supposedly had done this and had a great time.  The term "Letterboxing" doesn't give you a whole lot of information about what actually is involved, so I did a little research by checking out the Letterboxing North America website.  I was still a bit confused, but that was a few years ago and I was still living in the land of the sleep deprived (aka my son was still a baby).

Fast forward a couple of years and a co-worker mentioned that she had "gone Letterboxing" with her kids over spring break and boy did they love it!  Now I REALLY wanted to know more!  And I'm guessing you might too...that is, if you haven't already heard of Letterboxing!

What is Letterboxing?
In the most basic of terms, Letterboxing is a sort of treasure hunt, but you don't find actual treasure.  (Or, if you prefer, it's like Geocaching without the GPS!)

What do you find?
You'll find a box (typically a waterproof food storage container).  Inside typically there will be a small notebook and a rubber stamp.  There may be additional items, depending on who hid the box.  We went searching after a week of rainy weather.  Unfortunately we found a very wet box.  We couldn't add our info to the book because it was too wet. :(

On the bright side (especially when you're with a little boy), we did find a toad sitting right next to the box!

How do you know where to look?
That's where the Letterboxing North America website comes in! (If you're in another country, a quick Google search will let you know if your country has a Letterboxing website).  Under "Getting Starting" select "Finding."  This will give you a more detailed explanation of Letterboxing.  You can find/print clues to the location of Letterboxes on the website (Letterboxes--> Search Clues or Browse Map).  You can narrow down your search by state and county/region.

Sounds interesting, but there probably aren't any boxes to find near me.
That's what I thought too, but there are 158 listed in my county (Bristol County, MA) and 232 in the county to the southeast (Barnstable County), and 140 in the county to the east (Plymouth County)!  With that being said, pay attention to the comments because some may have gone missing, especially if they were planted a long time ago!

Now what?

  1. Create a Trail Name.  Your trail name is basically a user ID for the Letterboxing website.  When you find boxes, you will sign the notebook in the box using your trail name.  
  2. Gather your materials!  The Letterboxing website suggests you take your clues, a notebook (or sketchbook), a rubber stamp, an ink pad, a writing utensil, and a compass.
  3. Find some clues that you'd be interested in checking out.  Print them out or download to your phone and get out there!
  4. Follow the clues!  Hopefully you will find the Letterbox you are looking for (if not, you should use the Letterboxing website to notify the person who planted it and other Letterboxers).
  5. Stamp the notebook in the box using the rubber stamp that you brought with you and sign your trail name.
  6. Stamp your notebook with the stamp that is in the box you found.  Your notebook becomes something like a passport...the more Letterboxes you find, the more stamps you get!
  7. Grab another clue and start searching!

Here's our kit!

What does this have to do with Speech and Language?
So far, not much!  But it might be a fun thing to do with your kids! As far as the speech and language implications, you'll have to come back tomorrow for part 2!

Have you tried Letterboxing with your kids?  What did you think?  More importantly, what did THEY think?

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