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Letterboxing: The Last Pirate Treasure

letterboxingtreasure.jpgAs your toddler begins to explore more of the world – no, I don’t mean he discovers that food that rolls under the couch a week ago shouldn’t be licked – you have the opportunity to explore new surroundings with the fun game of Letterboxing. Started in England in the mid-19th century, Letterboxing began by a park ranger leaving his calling card in a bottle and invited others to do the same as they passed by that spot. As more people left their mark on the park in this bottle, the game evolved to include stamped cards to be mailed back to the owner with a short note – letterboxes being the equivalent to American postboxes. An article in the Smithsonian in 1998 revived the game and introduced it to a new generation in America. An excellent adventure to be played in parks around the country or as intimate in your backyard, it consists of a few materials and a good sense of hide and seek.


  • Waterproof box such as a food container
  • Notepad
  • Stamp – can be commercial or homemade
  • Inkpad
  • Compass for clues
  • Your field name such as: Graham family, Red Wolverine, Pink Tutu Club, etc
  • Pencil or pen
  • Ziploc – quart size
  • Clues

Taking the waterproof box, enclose within the notepad and pencil or if it’s in your backyard a small toy to make the search more fun. Place the box in the zippered bag and hide it along a path of a local park, under a tree, rock or place where passersby cannot too easily find it. Write down directions to the box and join the fun at and to leave your clues. There you can gather clues to other letterboxes in your location to search for.

If your adventure is out of the backyard, after you’ve found a box, take your stamp, handmade or store bought, and record your find in the notepad you’ll find within. You may record the date, who was in your group, a silly poem or a friendly hello. As you learn more about Letterboxing, you’ll discover sub-groups of boxes such as Cuckoos, Cooties and Virtuals (online letterboxing through websites).

This is an excellent game for children of all ages; the urge to discover is never far beneath the surface so put on your pirate patch, grab a parrot and dig up some treasure!

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