Letterboxing: What it is and why I’m now addicted

This weekend I went to the Book Barn in Niantic with my boyfriend. It was his first trip and he is not a reader (and he’s dating a teacher and an author, GASP!). Surprisingly, he geeked out and spent nearly as much on books as I did. However, my books were fiction, and all of his are non-fiction.

We were in one area of the barn – I shall keep it’s location a secret for those who want to find this on their own – and I found a strange box. Being a nosy person, I pulled it out and discovered that it was a “letterbox.” There was a website on it, so I went to check it out on my phone, and I decided right then and there that I HAD to do this!

The site, before I continue, is: www.letterboxing.org

Letterboxing is similar to geocaching. I’ve never done that, but I know people who have. If you check out the website, you’ll see the full history of what it is and how it has evolved. Now there is a website (and there IS an app for that, which I happily bought and have found very useful so far) and it tells you the location of some of the boxes. Sometimes there are clues, sometimes there are explicit directions to the box, and other times even the town is a mystery and you need to figure it out based on clues.

So far I have found six letterboxes. I’m hooked. The first – aside from the surprise one, which I didn’t have the materials to record it – was in another used bookstore. The second was in a cemetery. So was the third. The fourth one was on a lovely trail that I hiked with my two sisters, one of which is now doing this with me and is just as hooked. (For this one we actually had to rehide the box. It was out in plain sight, and as we were leaving the lot after our hike, we found another family who was clearly letterboxing as well. Very cool!) And finally, boxes five and six were found in a park by my house. I had a lot of fun finding those because a lot of people were around and it required STEALTH!

Inside each letterbox you will find a stamp – either store bought or hand made – and a notepad where you put the date you found the box and your own personal stamp. Sometimes it includes a pen or stamppad, but sometimes not. They’re always sealed very well, and even though the park we went to flooded due to the last hurricane, the boxes were untouched and the notepad was undamaged.

After you have stamped the notepad with your stamp – mine right now is a little kitten, and I let my sister borrow my key – you take the stamp you found and stamp your own notepad where you put the date you found it. I also include where it was, the city, etc, and how we found it. Once finished, you quickly pack everything away the way you found it, make sure it’s sealed to the elements, and put it back in the same spot for others to find. Make sure you hide it well, because you don’t want some random person coming along and destroying it! The one we found in the park had been there since 2002! Incredible…

I will be making a few letterboxes and scattering them around. It may be only the first day, but it is so much fun! If you’re looking for a new hobby, give it a try. Not only do many of the places have stories as to why they’re buried there, many of the stamps have personal meanings. And in some cases, the history of the location is often included. If the box is on a trail it makes for a great hiking activity, and for someone lazy like me, it’s a plus. I’m actually enjoying the strenuous activity!

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