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I’m very fond of an activity called letterboxing, which has nothing to do with the film format of the same name.  Rather, it’s an outdoor pastime of following clues or instructions to the location of a hidden box containing a stamp and notepad; the person finding it likewise owns a stamp and notepad, and upon discovering a hidden letterbox, the finder marks his stamp in the letterbox’s pad and marks the letterbox’s stamp into his or her personal pad.  (This repeated stamping has the archaic whiff of 19th-century clerical work about it, which is delightfully incongruous when performed in the middle of a forest.)  It’s also common to annotate the stamp with the finder’s nom de guerre and the date when the letterbox was found.

It’s a great outdoor activity that keeps the mind and body sharp, and it’s fun for the whole family, including our kids.  Some letterbox clues are straightforward (such as paces and compass directions), but my favorites are those that involve puzzles, rhyming riddles, and wordplay.  Many involve noticing details along the route, such as statues or inscriptions.  We haven’t placed any letterboxes ourselves yet, but we plan to do so in the near future.  For more information including the locations of boxes hidden near you, check out the North American letterboxing website.

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