What’s to Love: Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt, but you leave the treasure where you found it. The fun part is reading clues, hunting for the Letterbox, finding it, and then putting your mark in the register. This is done via rubber stamps – both in the Letterbox itself, and your personal stamp you bring with you.
We first heard about Letterboxing through the Portland Metro-Parent magazine. They had an article about it in their April, 2008 issue. We decided to check-out the Letterboxing website (listed below) to learn more and to find a Letterbox in our area. Currently, we are 3 for 5! We could not find two boxes in Forest Park, but we sure had fun trying. When we did find the boxes, my son enjoyed looking at all the rubber stamp pictures in the register, and of course, putting his own stamp (a little spider) in the register too!
Caveats: Two boxes were impossible for us to find. We think one box was moved, because the clues didn’t match-up, and the other demanded a compass. Moving boxes does happen, so make sure to check the date on the website.
For the most part, it looks like people are using existing (but certainly not sanctioned) trails to hide their boxes. Thus, the environmental impact is pretty low, but if a lot of people started looking, it might become a problem. Of course, you could stumble into poison oak, thorn bushes, a beehive, etc., so please be careful.
Website: Letterboxing Site
Distance from Portland: Letterboxes are all over the country and scattered throughout the greater Portland area.
Recommended Ages: Most suited for kids 3 – 8 years old; although, it depends on the difficulty of the clues.
Parental Stress Factor: Pretty low stress as an activity. The only stressful part is trying to keep secretive while you’re looking and recording your find.
Physical Difficulty: This depends on the location of the Letterbox. The Letterbox at the Japanese Garden has a lot of uphill hiking, but others have been easy going.
Family Fun Factor: Medium to High – Letterboxing is fun and has the potential to entertain the whole family. If you have a larger family, it will be fun for the kids to see who can find the Letterbox first. However, please be cognizant of the potential damage a group of kids can make while stomping through the woods.
Pet Friendly: In my opinion, this is not a good activity to do with a dog.
Weather Considerations: Letterboxing is year-round; however, I recommend doing it in dry weather, because you’ll want to avoid getting the register and rubber stamps wet.
Insider Info: For us, the Holocaust Memorial and the Mt. Tabor Deux were pretty easy to find. The Holocaust Memorial is pretty out-in-the-open, so please be watchful while you’re attempting to find it and register. The Letterbox that starts at the Japanese Garden in Forest Park is not a good option for little kids. There is just too much off-trail hiking.
Family Tips: Before you start Letterboxing, please read this article (article) to learn Letterboxing etiquette. Please do your best to minimize your impact and be discreet as possible when looking and/or finding a box. It is important that when you find a box to move away from the area when completing the stamping/registering process.
letterboxing, Portland letterboxing, Portland treasure hunt, rubber stamping, map and compass skills
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