A Letterboxing Adventure

Yesterday, the kids and I tried something new, an activities that I had never heard of before – letterboxing.

We had signed up for a Discovery Hunt, a free event offered for preschoolers by the local parks and recreation department at the historical Walkerton Tavern

First the kids got a little history about the tavern and a tour. 

“Built by John Walker between 1824 and 1825, Walkerton Tavern is located at 2892 Mountain Road in Glen Allen. In the course of its history, the structure has served as a tavern, store, post office, voting precinct, and possibly a field hospital for wounded Union Cavalrymen in 1864.”

Then they went on a scavenger hunt to find animals (like lion-head handles on a chest, horses painted on a plate and chicken on a piece of embroidery) and other objects in the tavern.

Each child was given their own clipboard and pencil with a piece of paper with pictures of objects (or parts of objects) hidden in plain sight around the tavern.  The tavern had two floors of room and each room had three or four objects.

My children had a ball.  They didn’t get what they were supposes to do at first and they had a little trouble finding the pictures that were portions of an object (like a spindle from the back of a chair).  So I would find the object, show it to them and they would have to find the picture that matched it on their sheet.  By the end, they had the hang of it.

Next our tour guide, Bob, talked to the kids about the different animals that live on or around the tavern grounds.  He showed them different evidence of the animals – a feather from a bird, a cocoon, a piece of wood a beaver had gnawed on, and a skull from a possum – and let the kids guess which animal it belong to.

Next we went outside for another type of scavenger hunt known as letterboxing.  I’d never done this type of hunt before but the kids really got into it the most.  And I had a good time too.

This is how it works:  The parents got a clue sheet.  We’d read the clue to our child and then the child would follow the clue to find a hidden stamp.

Since our theme was about the animals that lived at Walkertown Tavern, our clues led us to where they lived or were spotted.  At each location, the kids would search for a container that had a stamp for the animal for that clue and an ink pad.  The kids would add the stamp on the appropriate page in the little book that Tour Guide Bob gave them.

The twins absolutely loved it.  They were searching for the box before I even finished reading the clue.  They were finding the boxes with little or no help from me.  And they couldn’t wait to get their stamp!  They were even good about putting the box back in its hiding place for the next person.

This event was the first time I’d ever heard about letterboxing, but Bob explained that it was a hobby that a lot of adults participate in. 

I know the kids had a blast and so did I.  I’m going to have to look for more of these letterboxing activities.  I might even have to create a hunt of my own for the kids.

Have any of you every tried letterboxing?  What new activities have you tried lately?

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