I am thrilled to have this guest post from Berkeley mom Kate McGlashan who invited us to discover her kids’ hidden treasures.
Letterboxing is a great excuse for a walk outdoors, for those who are highly motivated by stickers. It’s analog geocaching, for the few people too young or old to have a phone with GPS. It’s a time-lapse treasure hunt.
We heard about letterboxing in a Facebook comment thread in the profile of a really, really cool woman I met once 15 years ago. So that was good enough for us.
We placed boxes in outdoor areas around Berkeley, each containing a stamp, an ink pad, and a pad of paper.
Here’s what you need to play along:
- A small notebook to put a stamp in, as a passport-style mini-trophy showing you’ve found each one.
- Your own stamp, sticker, or glitter marker to leave your own mark in the notebook that lives in the box.
- A clue to get you started towards hunting down the hidden boxes
Serious, grown-up (usually English) letterboxers construct elaborate clues to the boxes’ locations, and hike miles to find them. We needed a pre-literate, short-attention-span, high-parental-convenience version, so we began by placing them in locations where our friends go anyway, such as Acton Park. Unfortunately, these areas are so high-traffic that three of the first four boxes were stolen almost immediately. One in Ohlone Park has lasted long enough for a few families to find it, and they reported having a blast on the treasure hunt. My kids really enjoyed hiding the boxes, and then finding them again with their friends’ stamps in them.
Currently we have boxes out at Ohlone Park, Acton Park, and on the Cal campus. We welcome anyone to search for them. If you decide to place your own boxes please let us know as we’d love to be seekers too!
Here’s a clue for the letterbox on the Cal campus:
Nick (seated in the rear) says “from this bear 10 paces east and 5 paces north.”
Here is the photo clue for a box hidden at Terrace Park