Much easier than geocaching, letterboxing involves following a set of directions to a location – turn left, turn right, go 50 paces, and so forth – without having to figure out how to use a GPS. It’s fun, all you need is a stamp, an ink pad for the stamp, a pen and a memo pad or spiral memo notebook to log your adventures.
When you get to the location and find the stamp container, open it and use their stamp to stamp your book. Then use your stamp to record in their book that you were there and write the date along with your city and state. Sometimes people will write notes such as “great location” or “loved the clues”. Put everything back the way it was and you are on to your next letterbox adventure.
Last summer, we went to Yellowstone and having read about how much easier letterboxing was than geocaching, thought we’d give it a try. We visited the letterboxing.org website, printed out several sites that were labeled “easy” and were located in places or cities that we thought we might be visiting on our vacation, and took the printouts with us on our trip. We didn’t get to all the letterboxes, but we had a good variety to choose from as we visited each city or attraction. The first one was located on a hill behind Old Faithful, and it was kind of fun to follow the clues to the box and have to be secretive so as not to give away to other people on the trail what we were doing. You’ve got to be careful, because other people might not understand what you are doing and they may decide to remove or destroy the box. I’m not one to love hiking, and neither is my daughter, but with a destination or goal in sight of finding that letterbox, we were able to get some great exercise and it was well worth the effort. As we sat on a boulder next to the box and tried to be discreet, we had a nice conversation with a cute little chipmunk who seemed a little protective of that box!
After the Old Faithful adventure, we were pumped and ready for the next one. We hit a couple more sites when we visited Cody, Wyoming. Remember, you can’t get too disappointed when you find that a letterbox no longer exists. The one time we experienced this was when we went to the museum. We could certainly understand why the box was no longer there – the instructions told you to remove a block in the monument wall to get to the letterbox. The museum caretakers most likely found out about the letterbox and did not want people defacing the monument, so we’re assuming they are the ones who removed the letterbox. The hunt was still fun though, and it adds excitement to the typical sightseeing plans. Next time you go on a trip, do a little advance planning by printing out some letterbox clues for the locations you plan to visit. Even teens get involved in the hunt!
Here is the link we used to get our letterbox instructions - they have many listed and more added from time to time: http://letterboxing.org/
At HECOA, we LOVE field trips! They are a great way to enhance your academic content and they really help kids to get hands-on experiences to extend the learner to much deeper levels. We have articles as well as recorded webinars on field trips, and we have TWO amazing field trips scheduled at the national level for 2016 - one is to Yellowstone National Park in June 2016, and the other is to Washington D.C. in September!
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR 2016 NATIONAL FIELD TRIP TO WASHINGTON D.C. !