Monday, July 11, 2011


I could take lovely hikes or arboretum walks any time. But children sometimes need a goal. Letterboxing fits the bill. I first read about it about 5 years ago in Family Fun magazine. The internet is quite amazing. Here's the article.

All around the country and even across the world, individuals, scout groups and others set out letterboxes containing a stamp, an ink pad, and a recording book. They post directions on this wonderful website. People can go with their own letterboxing book or kit and collect memorable hikes and experiences as they fill their book.

It's easy to make a letterboxing kit. All you need is a small book, your own purchased or homemade stamp, an ink pad, and perhaps a pen or pencil. We keep ours in the car with some printed directions to different letterboxes.

Here's a photo of the first page of our book from Oct. 2006:

Here's a favorite page from a hike called Grandkids. Throughout a NJ park, a Grandmother and her grandkids gave instruction to 4 different sites where they set homemade stamp kits. Very cute.

In NJ, we did a couple letterbox hikes per year. Last year, we found our first MA letterbox by accident while hiking around a local woods. We had to go back with our letter box kit.

Yesterday I set out with Renee to purposefully explore the Arnold Arboretum and follow the directions to this letterbox. The arboretum evidently sets up a different one each month. Finding it combines fun and a lesson about a species that is particularly showy in that season. July's tree was the silk tree. As we walked through the Arboretum we were guided to a number of specimens of this species, and got to see lots of other interesting things.

We touched a cork tree. It really felt soft and cushiony.

We found a trufula tree (actually a smoke tree).

Finally, we found the letterbox under the silk tree. It was covered with flowers that looked like pink tipped feathers.

Try letterboxing. It's lots of fun. It's best to sort letterboxes in your area by the date they were placed. Older boxes can sometimes go missing leading to disappointment.


Kaat at MamaStories said...

What a neat idea. We should set some up in our town!

The cork tree is a member of the Rue Family. Good to know!

Andrea said...

There's one in Hamlin woods, there may be more.

Andrea said...

Check out these near us.

elizabeth ~ so wabi sabi said...

Very cool...I read about letter boxing a few years back and then magically found a box one day on a hike. This is something I should definitely do!!!

Thank you for your kind words on so wabi sabi.

heather said...

andrea. i want to tell you how much we are loving despereaux. thanks so much. please share your gift of knowing books with me as much as you feel like it. i always appreciate it.

i just LOVE that despereaux is braving being thrown to the rats, by defending his passion of music and love. he is just about to be led down to the dungeon. the kids are so tense for him. and then i made them go to bed. loves.

i have never heard of letterboxing. i am so intrigued. this is totally something that would motivate my kids. thanks for the info!!! they've done some geocaching with their school at pe a few times. that reminds me of this.