Looking for fun activities that the whole family can do together? Activities that get the family outside, active, and working as a team? Then, you will want to give geocaching and letterboxing a try.
What In The World Are Geocaching And Letterboxing?
Both of these activities revolve around “treasure-hunting”. Individuals hide boxes/caches in public places and provide clues, via websites and word of mouth to thei locations. Thousands of these treasures are hidden around the world making it feasible for people from many nations to play along.
Letterboxing predates geocaching by quite a bit. It started in England in 1854, the invention of James Perrott. He placed the first letterbox in a difficult to access area of Dartmoor, England, making reaching it quite an achievement (Atlas Quest). Letterboxing did not make its way to North America until 1998 (Wikipedia).
Geocaching made its first appearance in 2000, when restrictions on GPS signal use were lifted. These changes allowed for item location pinpointing by coordinates for the public. A computer consultant named Dave Ulmer set geocaching in motion by hiding the first cache and hosting the original “GPS Stash Hunt” (Geocaching.com).
What Equipment Is Needed For Geocaching And Letterboxing?
Geocaching-To play, you simply need a GPS device or a mobile phone that is GPS-enabled. Also, bring along something to write with and a small item to place in the cache when you find it in the event that it is a “take something, leave something” cache.
Letterboxing-You will need a sturdy notebook and pen/pencil to record your finds, a small stamp and inkpad, and a compass. If you need a tutorial on how to use a compass, one can be found online.
Where Do You Go To Find Clues To Get Started?
For geocaching, a great site to start with is Geoaching.com. You can set up a basic account for free. Search for geocache clues by geographic location via the site. You will find clues for a variety of types of caches including traditional, mystery/puzzle that require solving for coordinates, and multi-location caches among others. As you get further involved in geocaching, you may want to check out regional geocaching sites, as well.
For letterboxing, Atlas Quest is good website to get you rolling. It also offers a geographic search tool for clues. Additionally, you will find links to resources for creating personalized stamps and custom logbooks. If you are located in North America, Letterboxing North America is another site that you will want to take a look at.
Like geocaching, a variety of types of letterboxes exist. The different boxes include traditional, mystery (vague clues), bonus (clue to another in the one that you find), word of mouth, and hitchhiker (moves from box to box) among others.
What Else Should I Know About Geocaching and Letterboxing?
Good things to keep in mind when taking part in these activities include:
- Only look for “treasure” on public land. Private property is a no go.
- If take something from a cache, make sure that you replace it with something appropriate such as a small toy, novelty coin, patch, collector pin, etc.. (no food, weapons, or other such items).
- Make sure that you put the box/cache back where you find it disturbing the surrounding area as little as possible.
- Write a note of your visit in any logbook that you find in box. Also, go online and log your find. This helps people know that these caches are still active.
Finally, enjoy good quality time outdoors with your friends and family. And watch out, because you are likely to want to go geocaching and letterboxing again and again.
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