Last weekend, we took a family trip down to Grants Pass to see my dad. On Saturday, we went to the farmer's market at 11am and then went to lunch. We were going to meet up with my dad and his wife for ice cream at 1, so we had a little free time. I wanted to do something fun with the kids, so I thought we'd give letterboxing a try.
We had a great time! The idea is that you are given clues to find a hidden box. Some of the clues are pretty straightforward, and some require you to do a little bit of detective work. The hidden box contains a stamp and a notebook, and sometimes a stamp pad. When you go looking for the letterboxes, you bring a stamp and notebook of your own so that when you find the letterbox, you put your stamp in the letterbox notebook and the letterbox stamp in your notebook. That way, you can keep a journal of all of the letterboxes that you've found. And the person that letterbox itself will contain a journal of everyone that has found it.
The night before, I looked up a few letterboxes in Grants Pass. One of them was not far from the place where we had lunch. I told the kids that we were going Treasure Hunting. They got them interested. In the morning, we stopped at the store and purchased a couple of stamps for them (note: most letterbox hunters make their own custom stamps. Might be a fun project to do with the kids sometime). We drove down one of the downtown streets until it went into a residential area. A little ways in, there was a trailhead on the right. We parked and headed up towards it. The clue said to walk up the trail about 300 yards. 300 yards is not very far, but it is all uphill, so we had to listen to about 200 yards of Are-we-there-yet's. At one point, LilKat1 decided he was tired and wanted to sit. I told him that I thought the treasure was pretty close and he could sit and wait for Mrs. BigKat to catch up (she was lagging behind because a) she had worn flip-flops instead of shoes and b) she was carrying PrincessKat around in the backpack). LilKat2 wanted to keep up with me so we walked ahead. I only had to go up about 15 more yards before I saw the tree that we were looking for. I called down the hill, 'I think I found it!' and LilKat1 came running up at top speed.
The clue said that the box was hidden at the base of the tree. I carefully moved the pile of twigs and leaves that was mounded up there and sure enough, underneath everything was a small rectangular tupperware-like box. I brought it out to show the boys and they were so excited! We took out the contents of the box. There was a small homemade stamp made from an eraser, some old loose journal pages that had been written on by past letterboxers, and a half-filled journal. The boys stamped the handmade stamp into their notebooks and then put their stamps into the letterbox journal. It was interesting reading some of the past entries in the journal. People going back to 2003 had found the box and wrote about what a nice time they had hunting for it. A lot of them were doing it as a family, just as we were. Unfortunately, there was no pen in the letterbox and I had neglected to bring one of our own, so we weren't able to write our names in the journal page.
We started to head back, but LilKat2 wanted to keep going up the hill. He wanted to find more treasure. I told him that that was the only treasure there and that even if we kept going up the hill, we wouldn't find any more. He was a bit disappointed, but the thought of catching up with my dad to get ice cream made him happier.
This was a great family activity for us. The whole idea of following some directions to a secret location and actually finding a box where it says a box will be was really fun. We actually went out the next day and found 3 more letterboxes (and we brought a pencil with us this time!). I told the boys that there are a bunch of boxes around where we live, so they are very excited to do some treasure hunting in our town.