What on Earth Is Letterboxing?

You want the kiddies to truly appreciate nature and you think a nice hike would be a good start. But you find that the kiddieswellthey doth protest too much about walking long distances? Perhaps a fun activity they can do during the hike like letterboxing just might do the trick. And wouldnt you know it? Connecticut state parks participate in this Victorian-era activity.

Before I explain what letterboxing is, let me give you a brief history

Letterboxing began in England around 1854. James Perrott, a Dartmoor National Park guide, left a bottle by Cranmere Pool with his calling card and an invitation to visitors to add theirs inside. This simple act progressed to visitors leaving a self-addressed postcard or note in the hopes that the next visitor would return it by mail. The British term for mailbox isyou guessed it, letterbox! The practice changed to using rubber stamps and visitors log books instead of calling cards, and it came to the U.S. in 1998 after an article in Smithsonian Magazine.

How do you participate in letterboxing? Well, first you should make a kit that consists of a plastic, air-tight container; a rubber stamp that uniquely identifies you; an ink pad; and a record book (a sketch pad will do). Clues will be provided at the park for you to find these letterboxes, which can be hidden behind a rock or inside a hollow tree.

Once you find a letterbox (which will contain the same items as your kit does minus the ink pad), move away from the hidden location so as not to give it away to passers-by. Stamp your record book with the stamp provided in the hidden box, then take your unique stamp and ink the record book in the hidden box, adding your trail name (either your real name or something made up), hometown, and date of discovery. You can add a special message if you want.

There are certain rules of etiquette you should follow. After all, this is a Victorian-era game!

So you think this might get the kids interested in a nice hike? Try it! On the plus side, its a chance to run the kids ragged so you can get a peaceful evening.

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