Monday, August 9, 2010

We Tried Letterboxing

During our visit to Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut last week, we stumbled across a letterbox on our hike and checked it out. This, combined with the letterboxing post at Wee Folk Art this past week, inspired us to give it a try - officially - over the weekend. was okay. We looked online and found a multi-part series of letterboxes near our home, packed up our supplies - log books for each of the kids, and a stamp and inkpad for each of them as well - and headed out to see what we could find. We got to the first site near the Delaware Water Gap and found the spot easily enough, though it took some searching to find the actual box.

Once we found it and got it open, we discovered that it was leaky and the contents were moldy and really quite gross, and there was a snake living in the box. Needless to say, I think Bess is pretty scarred by the experience and isn't likely to want to repeat it any time soon. Quite honestly, neither am I. I like nature and all that, but opening a box full of stinky mold and a very surprised snake was simply more than my nerves could take yesterday. It was pretty yuk. And disappointing since we didn't actually get to stamp our books after all that looking.

However, all was not lost. Apparently, rocks covered with graffiti are very exciting when you're two and five. The kids thought they were artistic masterpieces and spent quite some time checking them out, climbing on them, and generally running around. Ah....

So, for those who are looking to try this activity, I have a few words of advice. One is, try to select a box that has been recently hidden or found to minimize the chances that it is missing or damaged. Two is, try to make sure that you are not overtired and cranky for your first letterbox outing, or you may not find it enjoyable to poke around in the woods getting eaten by mosquitoes for an hour trying to find the thing. (Tip 2A: consider bringing and applying bug spray.) Three is, be flexible - actually, this is not just letterboxing advice but parenting and life advice. What you expect to get out of an activity is rarely what you end up with in the end!

I am a scholar-turned-mother/activist who is interested in sustainable living and social justice. I have published a number of articles and given presentations internationally on the topics of voluntary simplicity and humane parenting. Learn more at my website

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