Tag Archives: letterboxing

What We’re Doing for Fun This Summer: Letterboxing

30 Jun

Look, we found a letterbox!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 30, 2012

Have you ever heard of letterboxing?

It’s so much fun, it’s free, and it’s great for a family activity during any season that’s not freezing cold. For us, that’s 3/4 of the year, but we really only get to do it in the summer for the most part because that’s when we have time to do things.

Things that aren’t school and work things.

Fun things.

Like letterboxing.

I first heard of letterboxing so long ago, I don’t even know if we had all three kids yet. I read about it in Family Fun Magazine. I don’t get that magazine any longer and I can only imagine all the amazing ideas I’ve missed, but I used to love it. I credit all our letterboxing fun to the article I read in Family Fun.

I remember reading the article and saying to Don, “When our kids are bigger, I want to do this,” and I never forgot it. In 2008 we began our letterboxing adventures. Alexandra, our youngest, was three.

You’re probably saying, “Get to the point! What IS letterboxing???” I take the long way around sometimes, when I tell a story.

Okay. Here’s what it is and here’s how you do it:

All around the world people are hiding, and finding letterboxes!

All around the world, literally, people are hiding these little boxes in secret places and uploading the clues to help you find them, online.

I kid you not.

It’s like a giant treasure hunt, really.

Here’s what you need to get started:

*A notebook of some kind (Mine is super fancy because I’m crafty and I actually have notebooks like this just hanging around in my office. However, it can be a simple composition book.)

*A pen

*A rubber stamp (some people make their own. I used a Stampin’ Up! stamp of a globe. I thought it appropriate.)

*An ink pad

*Something in which to store all those things. I used to use a gallon ziploc bag. Then I used a big manilla folder. Now they’re in an expandable file I found in my office. That’s the most durable thing I’ve used so far.

Now here’s what you have to do:

1) Visit this website for Letterboxing North America (assuming that’s where you live).

2) Click on the state you want to explore. Click on the area of the state. Ours is set up by counties.

3) Check out the list of letterboxes in that area and pick some to print out. I read the clues first to see if it says the last time the box was found or if it’s missing, or if the terrain is notable in any way, such as rough or rocky or easy.

4) Print out the clues for the boxes you want to look for. We started with boxes right in our own city to get the hang of it, and then expanded to nearby cities and now we do them even if we’re traveling on vacation and think we’ll have a chance to look for a letterbox.

Now you take your clues and go.

1) You park your car where they tell you to, and start following the clues until you reach the hiding spot where they say the box is. We told our kids right off the bat that sometimes the boxes are missing or we won’t find them, just so they wouldn’t be so disappointed if that happened, but it’s not been the norm for us.. Usually we find them.

2) When you get to the hiding place you find the box. It’s usually a tupperware type of plastic box. Open the box. Find their stamp, ink and notebook.

3) You stamp your stamp into their notebook and we like to leave a little note with the date and our last name, so they know at least when the most recent one was found. We sometimes will look back to see how long the boxes have been hidden in that spot.

4) Then you take their stamp and their ink (or use your ink if needbe) and stamp their stamp into your notebook. Put the date and where you are so that you too, can look back in the future and see all the places you’ve explored and found letterboxes, and how long you’ve been doing it.

5) Put all their stuff back in their box and REHIDE the box. Don’t just leave it out there in the open. Put it back where you found it and cover it back up as it was so that the next person can find it.

That’s it! Done! Fun times!!

We never even knew this spot existed until we followed the letterboxing clues. The box ended up not being there, but the stunning location we found instead made up for it.

We have not only found some neat letterboxes, but we’ve found some incredible spots, gorgeous places that we never knew existed in our own state. We’ve also explored some neat historic places both in our state and in other states, where we’ve found letterboxes.

Letterboxing makes a day trip double the fun.

Some state parks have a series of letterboxes in them, sometimes three or four of them. You can spend the day hiking through the park and finding them.

A few things to keep in mind:

Dress appropriately. Sneakers work better than flip flops, for example.

Sunscreen, snacks, water, tissues and band-aids are all good things to bring with you. You never know what you’ll need but those basics have served us well.

Next time you’re looking for a fun, active way to spend the day together with your family, give letterboxing a try!

What We’re Doing for Fun This Summer: Using our group buying deals

6 Aug

Do you use Groupon? How about Living Social?

There are lots of group buying websites; sites where special deals are offered if enough people purchase them. The two I use most are Groupon and Living Social.

Excited to be at our Mystery Ride destination!

Because our funds are particularly limited in the summer months, I look throughout the year for things that I can use for our summer fun. Earlier this spring I found a Living Social deal for a local historic spot nearby and I purchased it. The deal gave us a one-year membership to Coggeshall Farm in Bristol, RI which is a historic working farm complete with horses, chickens, turkeys, a vegetable garden and much, much more.

We used our Living Social Deal a few weeks ago to take our kids on our latest Mystery Ride. I also knew that there was a letterbox on the Coggeshall Farm property and the kids were excited to find it.

I had never been to Coggeshall Farm but from the description online, I thought it would be right up my kids’ alley, and I was so right. They absolutely loved it and we had a blast.

Finding the eggs which had been laid by the chickens on the farm was a thrill for the kids. They were so proud to bring in the basket with eggs in it.

I must admit, it was very cool to be able to pet a chicken.

From petting a chicken to finding their eggs in the nests, the first time experiences that the kids got at this farm were invaluable. They couldn’t wait to help out with the farm “chores,” which we found completely surprising since they’re not usually so excited to help out with our house chores. After collecting the eggs and bringing in firewood for the kitchen fire, they checked out the farm’s garden and the rest of the farm property.

Learning about life on the farm was fascinating.

After we’d seen everything on the farm and done the chores, , we moved on to the letterbox hunt, which was a success, adding a new stamp to our book. We ended the day with a picnic lunch by the water nearby. It was a perfect day for a picnic, a perfect day for being near the ocean and we took advantage of being outdoors on such a gorgeous summer day.

If you live in the area, I’d recommend a visit to Coggeshall Farm, and if you haven’t tried out the group buying websites, I recommend them as well. They’re great for introducing you to places and ideas that you might not have thought of on your own and the deals are well worth the money, in my experience.

Saying Goodbye to Summer

2 Oct

Today is October 1, and this week the weather is supposed to turn into typical fall weather. We’re in the midst of work and school routines with soccer, dance and Girl Scouts in there too. As I look around my house, I see the typical transitional things happening, like the basket of bathing suits in the hallway, leaving the bedroom closet to make way for cooler-weather wear and the laundry basket of tank tops and sleeveless dresses ready to go up into the attic.

I realized today though, it was time to take down our Summer Vacation sign. I hated to see it go.

Our Summer Vacation sign ended up being so much more than I originally intended it to be!

On the last day of school in June, my youngest daughter, Alex, was still a half-day kindergartener. I wanted her return home on the last day to be special, just like I do for her sisters at the end of the full day. I wracked my brain for something special for her to do while we waited for all of them to be together at the end of the day for the full-fledged celebration. I came up with an idea: I would write out a banner for her to color and we’d hang it up to surprise her sisters when they got home.

At first I just wrote out Happy Summer Vacation and left it at that. Then I decided that she and I would think of all the things we like to do over the summer and I’d write them all over the banner to fill it up a bit more. So that’s what we did and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon together.

We put the sign up on the wall and I kind of thought that once the other girls got home and the banner had been seen, that would be it. Little did I know how big a part the Summer Vacation banner would play into our summer and how sad I’d be today when I finally took it down.

We began marking the banner with little star stickers each time we did one of the things on there and it became a sort of bucket list. The girls would take turns placing the stars. They also began adding things that either I’d forgotten or things we were adding to our summer plans. People would see our sign and talk about it when they visited, the kids would share with them the different summer experiences they’d had. One cousin was so happy to see themselves listed on the banner since we visit them at the end of each summer, and our other cousins were thrilled to be on there as well, since they visit us each summer.

We found too, that even though there were things we thought we’d do, they didn’t all get done, but at the end of the summer we discussed how although we’d missed some of the things on our list, other things replaced them that were just as good, or better.

In the end, this was one of our best summers ever. Our kids are at great ages to be going places, doing things, and enjoying time together. In addition to all of the “usuals,” we got a dog, we went camping; we really did do some extra-special things this summer.

I’m so glad that I have this sign, which I’ll keep in our memory box, so that we can one day look back at our Summer Vacation 2011 banner and remember it all.