A lesson in letterboxing

Looking for a family activity that’s interesting, creative and fun?  Try Letterboxing!

On a hike in Swansea, MA 2007
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!

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 Letterboxing.org.
Dartmouth, MA

A letterboxing kit makes a great craft activity.  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.

You can also make a research project about the history of letterboxing, and have the student do a report on the places in your local area to find them.  Even better, make a stamp of your own and hide the letterbox and have the kids keep track of visitors – maybe have the student graph the progress.

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

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


4 thoughts on “A lesson in letterboxing

  1. You might also check out Volksmarching. Has some of the same features as letterboxing. You have to follow a set of directions and you collect a stamp for your efforts. You get to see and learn about new places. Go to http://www.ava.org and click on Events to find out if there are any in your area.

  2. We love letterboxing!!! We discovered this wonderful activity a couple of years ago and the kiddos have so much fun. It is like a scavenger hunt every time we go. Thanks for the great post 🙂

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