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The Dos (and mostly don’ts) of Letterboxing in Colorado

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Do you remember the Pokemon Go craze of last summer? (Really, who could forget it!) Here’s a way to get your kids exploring without technology. 

I have always been intrigued by treasure hunts. The prospect of discovering something valuable and cosseted is exciting to me. From the moment I first watched The Amazing Race, I was hooked. Following clues and traveling the world would be a dream come true.

Getting lost in umpteen countries is not.

When my kids were younger, we watched a movie that got me excited about doing my own treasure hunt. One option was geocaching but it does not hold much allure for me.

This can be attributed to the fact that I cannot operate a GPS.

I had heard about letterboxing so figured it would be the next best thing. Not familiar with the concept?

Letterboxing is an activity that combines the elements of puzzle solving and orienteering. Letterboxers hide notebooks and a stamp in waterproof boxes in publicly accessible places and post clues to finding the boxes on websites such as letterboxing.org or atlasquest.com.

Once the box is found, letterboxers stamp the notebook with their personal stamp and also record it in their own log.

Anyone can hide a box, post clues or just do their own sleuthing. I thought it was a great way for families to discover their own backyard because pretty much anyone can interpret the clues.

Unless that someone is me.

I did my research. I chose my trail name (letterboxing identity), bought a personalized rubber to imprint the log book and also my own sketch book so I could keep track of the many imprints I was going to collect during my lifelong letterboxing career.

Then we attempted to find our first clue.

And yes, I did say “attempted.”

I had talked up the process enough that my kids were psyched and my husband Jamie was cautiously optimistic.

He is, after all, married to me and is well-versed in catastrophic situations.

I searched online and found a fun clue about a kitty’s journey through my city to land at one of our favorite parks. We followed his trail and tracked down the exact tree where the letterbox was allegedly hidden.

It was nowhere to be found.

After an exhaustive 10-minute search, we finally gave up. Disheartened, we slunked away. It was our first – and final attempt – at letterboxing

It was quite possibly my most short-lived career yet.

Have you tried letterboxing? Be sure to read JoAnn’s tips!

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Comments
  • comment avatar Sabrina August 9, 2010

    This would so happen to us. That is why I’m never tried geocaching or letterboxing. But the concept does sound fun!

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  • comment avatar Kellie August 9, 2010

    We’ve been wanting to do this all summer, but things get in the way. Sounds like so much fun!!

  • comment avatar Lauren in GA August 9, 2010

    I hate to admit it…but now I want to try it…I am going to go to those websites.

    With my luck I will die in the wilderness…

  • comment avatar Amber August 9, 2010

    Death by wilderness: there are worse things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • comment avatar Head Nurse August 9, 2010

    It sounds like fun- I doubt there is anything near my hometown- but I think I will check and see- then if I find one- maybe I will then invest in a stamp and such-

  • comment avatar Roxanne W August 10, 2010

    We read your post and decided to try one tonight that we found online that seemed close to home. It ended up being in an area that we had frequented a lot and was a cute mini box! My daughter is so excited we are going to buy a journal and start a family tradition of going out and locating them! Now that we had a good experience and know what to look for we figure we will try in some areas that we don’t know anything about and see if it is a lot harder to find. Thanks for posting on such a fun subject!

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck August 10, 2010

    That makes me so happy at least someone found success with letterboxing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • comment avatar Connie Weiss August 10, 2010

    We tried both letterboxing and geocaching a few weeks ago in Utah and found the letter box but not the cache. It was really frustrating!

    We will try again here in Denver.

  • comment avatar JoAnn August 10, 2010

    This sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I had no idea Letterboxing existed. I’ve heard of Geocaching, but not this. We’ll definitely have to try it!!

  • comment avatar JoAnn August 15, 2010

    Claire & I just got back from our very first Letterbox Adventure, and we LOVED it! Once I figured out how to read the compass correctly, we actually found the box! Ha.

    Now, she wants to have her own ink stamp and hide our own boxes. (We ended up just signing the little book instead of stamping it, but we’ll definitely get our own stamp.)

    I sense a new addiction!! Gee, thanks Amber. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson August 16, 2010

    Happy your first round was more successful than ours. Just don’t try the Majestic View letterbox. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • comment avatar Sherie W August 28, 2010

    We finally tried letterboxing a few weeks ago for a summer vacation distraction. I reviews many of the clues on the letterboxing website and chose 4 destinations in our general area. We set out with our clues and found all of them! One of them was a walk around a lake — a little more walking than we bargained for, but we found that new park! Another clue led us to a fountain in a shopping center that we never knew was there! The kids are hooked and we are going to go out and find 4 more tomorrow a little further from home.

    The cool thing about the online clues is that the ‘hider’ will normally indicate with avatars if it’s easily accessible by car, or if there’s a hike involved, if it’s bicycle friendly, if it’s kid friendly, etc.

    I highly encourage you to try it again!! Did you report to the ‘hider’ that the box was gone? They normally like reports on the status of their box/stamp so they can maintain it. We found a box that had been hidden in that same spot since 2004! But, if you do try it again, get a few clues that are in the same vicinity and make an afternoon out of it!

  • comment avatar Irais May 6, 2011

    Now we know who the snseblie one is here. Great post!

  • comment avatar Chrissy August 14, 2011

    I am totally going to go and see if there are any in my area.. This sounds very fun and a great way to get some exercise while on a mission!

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