What is letterboxing?
It is an outdoor hide and seek hiking adventure. You find an all weather proof box with a journal and hand carved stamp in it that is hidden in public area with very little impact to the environment. Boxes are hidden in logs, tree areas, rock crevices, they are never buried. That is against the rules.
When you find the box, you stamp your stamp in their journal and then stamp their stamp in your journal. You can write something in their journal also so check out what others have written to get an idea of what you would like to write. Make sure you put time and date found in both journals.
Most stamps are hand carved. Most boxes have a theme and the hand carved stamp goes with the theme. You may wish to take on a nickname and design a stamp around that and use that as a signature with your PFX (more below). When you go to other boxes, people will see your signature name repeatedly if you are all finding the same boxes. This recognition comes in handy when you hide your own box and people find it.
In your journal, you can write about the area you are in, especially if you had not any luck finding the box and need to return to find it at a later date. Your journal is a reflection of your adventure. It is also your personal score card (PFX).
P is the number of boxes you placed, F is the number of boxes you found, X is the number of stamps you exchanged with other letterboxers on the trails (in the box) or at letterboxing gatherings.
So when you view a journal, you will see someone’s signature with these letters followed by numbers. Sample: “Mystic Unicorn P5F20X25”: placed 5 boxes, found 20, and exchanged 25 stamps. Now, if they found 20 but have 25 stamps, 5 more than they had found, how did this happen? Either Mystic met other letterboxers on the trail or at a gathering to get those extra 5 stamps.
If you are lucky, you will met other people looking for the exact same box but you can exchange stamps with them if they permit.
When you are done, put the journal back in the box and make sure you put the lid on tight. Put the box back in the exact location you found it for others to find.
People who hide the boxes do check on them periodically to update them.
How do you find boxes?
You need to visit the Letterboxing site. Click on your state (or where you wish to visit), and find the area you are in to get instructions on how to find the box/es. Some clues are very easy, others are cryptic and difficult and so you need to figure them out. Most boxes are rated on how easy or hard they are to find. The last 100 yards or so are very difficult till you get the hang of it. Don’t give up.
Now you know the basic concept: here are the very basics you need to bring with you on a search: your journal and stamp, a dye inkpad, a pen or pencil, a map and directions to the box location. Place all in a ziplock bag. (if the woods are wet, you don’t want to drop your items in muck by accident)
Geocaching (read more here) is similiar to Letterboxing but has a few other elements and more adventure and thrill. I prefer this activity over letterboxing cause the whole family can participate and the kids get a treat.
Both activities are a good day out so bring a picnic.