You’d think a grown man would have better things to do than look for crudely-carved* rubber stamps hidden in logs, but letterboxing is one of my favorite hobbies.
Letterboxes are (surprisingly enough) little, hidden boxes containing a stamp and a logbook. You follow the clues, find the box, stamp its logbook with your personal stamp, and your logbook with its stamp. Letterboxes are hidden throughout the country in (generally) public places, like zoos and parks. There are also virtual (online) letterboxes, postal letterboxes, and even letterboxes hidden within other letterboxes.
I like riddles and puzzles. More than that, I really like hiding and finding, knowing secrets and clues. National Treasure will never be a classic, but I loved every minute of it.
What’s really appealing about letterboxing is that it’s entirely family-friendly. All you need is a logbook and stamp to spend a fun afternoon with your kids, exploring the lesser-known areas of your community and solving puzzles. The clues will often involve local history, and every now and then require a compass.
We took Ian earlier this week, looking for a letterbox hidden in park near my office. The clues were a little too difficult for him, but he’s a pirate, and will always take time to look for ‘married treasure’. We asked him to look for landmarks disguised in the clues: fire hydrant, speed limit sign, third barbeque pit. He pointed, we followed; eventually we came to the box, hidden inside a group of rocks.
The only danger lies in combining a three-year-old with an ink pad.
As your kids grow, they can make their own letterboxes, carving stamps (it’s really not difficult) and writing clues. Ian’s helped me hide two boxes, and more are on the way.
* Actually, many letterboxers are quite talented, and craft beautiful, elaborate stamps. Mine are a means to an end.