What is Letterboxing?
Letterboxing is a fun activity for individuals and groups of all ages. In short, letterboxing is a nationwide outdoor scavenger hunt (although some boxes are found inside). It combines elements of map reading, hiking, and puzzle solving.
A letterbox is a small weatherproof box in a publicly-accessible place. Each letterbox contains a log book and a rubber stamp which is often hand carved. The clues to letterboxes hidden all over the world can be found online.
Letterboxers carry a travel journal, stamp pad, their own “signature” stamp (can be anything from a name to animal footprints) and the clues to the letterbox.
After the letterboxer finds a letterbox they “stamp-in” in the letterbox’s logbook with their “signature” stamp, the date, and a note for future letterboxers. Then they take the stamp found in the letterbox and stamp their own travel journal and can write something down that helps them remember their adventure. The letterboxer’s travel journal becomes a running history of all the letterboxes and places they have visited, like a passport.
A Brief History of Letterboxing
Letterboxing is a tradition that started in England in 1854. The first letterboxer, a Dartmoor National Park guide named James Perrott, left his calling card in a bottle by Cranmere Pool and invited others to leave their own calling cards as well. Visitors eventually began leaving self-addressed postcards and notes hoping that the next person would return them by mail. This eventually evolved into the letterbox stamping system of today. Although the tradition of letterboxing didn’t reach the U.S until 1998, it is now popular throughout the country and across the world.
Items needed for letterboxing
- Your personal stamp or “signature stamp” (to stamp into the letterbox’s logbook)
- A pen to write something in both the logbook and in your travel journal
- An ink pad for your stamp and the letterboxes stamp (some markers work well)
- Your travel journal
- A compass, in case you need to take a bearing (there is a compass rose on the paper maps found in the Visitor Center)
- The clues or directions to your next letterbox
- A Soldiers Delight map. Maps are available in the Visitor Center, on the bulletin board in the Visitor Center parking lot, and at the Overlook parking lot.
- A trail name, the name you use to sign logbooks with
Step-by-Step Letterboxing at Soldiers Delight
IMPORTANT: Please stay on the trail: you will be walking in living grassland. Plants grow by the inch and die by the foot. Please keep in mind that Soldiers Delight NEA is home to many rare and endangered plant species that depend on us and our decisions for their next generation.
Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area offers one indoor and multiple outdoor letterboxing adventures that can be completed individually. If you wish to complete all of the outside letterboxing adventures, keep all of the stamps together on the circle stamp sheet to open the prize circle letterbox.
Soldiers Delight’s Letterboxes need a “key” (or combo) entered in the correct box to unlock them.
- Complete the letterbox adventures to find your “key” (number combination).
- Unlock the letterbox with your key. After the number key is in the lock, you must push up hard on the lock then pull down for it to release.
- In the letterbox logbook:
- Stamp-in with your “signature” stamp – if you don’t have a stamp a quick doodle will do.
- Write down the day's date.
- Write something fun in the logbook – something you saw on your adventure, a quick poem or saying or whatever you like!
- Sign with your trail name.
- In your travel journal
- Use the stamp you found inside the letterbox to stamp your travel journal or the bottom of this paper if you don’t have one.
- Write something down that will help you remember your adventure.
- The rest is up to you - suggested additions are the date, weather, and who you adventured with.
- Before you leave, make sure that you have:
- Put the log book back in the letterbox.
- Wiped any extra ink off the stamp after using it and wrapped it up in its felt.
- Closed the ink pad up tight.
- Re-locked the box and scrambled the combination so others will be able to find it just as you did. Please make sure it is locked by giving it a tug.