Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Letterboxing {Geeky Fun}

Looking for a family activity that's interesting, creative and fun?  How about a creative birthday party idea for older kiddos?
On a hike in Swansea, MA

Luke's discovery in Somerset, MA
We started letterboxing a few years ago, and found that it was a great way for our family to enjoy a hike together without hearing complaining from the kids that the unplugged activity was "boring". Letterboxing is considered the predecessor to Geocaching.  It mixes orienteering (challenge with navigational skills) with stamp-making and collecting.  This is basically a free activity folks!

A local Geocache (we've done this too)!
The basic idea of letterboxing is to follow written directions like a treasure hunt with a compass to find a hidden letterbox (great lesson for kids to learn to use a compass!)  Set out on your hike, and watch for the land marks! Inside the box is a rubber stamp (some home-made, some commercial) and a notebook.  Sometimes, the letterbox owner will also enclose a pen or pencil and an ink pad, but your best bet is to bring your own.
On the hunt in Fairhaven, MA

Seth found this one!

The letterbox!
Once you find the "treasure," you leave a copy of your stamp in the box's notebook, and take a copy of their stamp in your personal collection.  When you get home, you can log on to the letterbox's site and leave a message for the letterbox owner.

Getting ready to stamp in.
We have discovered so many new places in our area by going on these little treasure hunts!  There are hundreds of letterboxes all over the world! The two best sites to find letterboxes near you are Atlas Quest and
Westport, MA

Dartmouth, MA

Taunton, MA

Bristol, RI

Portland, ME area (Baxter Woods)

I have my kids carry a small backpack with their letterboxing kit and a bottle of water.

My cousin Ani's first letterbox discovery!

Stamping in

Everyone takes a turn

My oldest son had a letterboxing birthday party a couple of years ago.  The first thing we did was have the kids make their own letterboxing kits.  They made their own "stamps" by sticking foam stickers to sponges with foam rubber hot glued to one side. They worked really well!  They got to choose a notebook, a pen and an ink pad to put in their plastic boxes.  These doubled as party favors for them to take home!

Letterboxing kit-making station

The kids loved personalizing their boxes with stickers
We hid five boxes in various places around the outside of our house and around the neighborhood.  We split the kids into teams, gave each team a map, a compass, a set of gloves, a disposable camera, and written directions and set them free! Everyone had a blast finding the hidden boxes. The kids still talk about this party as one of their favorite parties ever.

Teams setting out on "the hunt"

A letterboxing kit makes a great gift!  Make a special notebook, and put it in a nice plastic box (like a pencil box), a special pen, an ink pad and a rubber stamp and maybe a pair of gardening gloves and a compass. Include a homemade book about the history of letterboxing, and maybe a few choice letterbox locations close to you.

Using scrapbooking materials, I covered ordinary notebooks to make special gifts.

Coordinating colored pens, stamps and ink pads

What activities do you enjoy with your family?  Leave me some great ideas in the comments below!

Clickable Party


  1. Hey Krysten,

    I found your blog while searching for ideas for my son's letterboxing party. Can you tell me more about how you made your foam sticker stamps? It sounds like a great idea!


  2. Absolutely! I used plain kitchen sponges and cut them into 4 pieces. I cut craft foam to fit the size (about 1 by 2 inches) and hot glued them to the sponges. Then I set out a variety of craft foam stickers, and let the kids make their own "stamp" by stacking 2 or 3 of the same sticker on top of each other. I got all the supplies to make these at my local dollar store.

    Best of luck!

  3. Hi, this is so great! I found your blog through Pinterest while looking for a good way to teach my Brownie troop about letterboxing for one of their badges and it seems we live in the same area! Our troop is based in Fall River. Would you be interested in coming in as a guest speaker? Email me if you are. Katie