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Beating Summer Boredom With Letterboxing and Geocaching

Ah, summer.

No more mornings spent rushing to the bus.

No more projects, organized sports, or uniforms.

No agenda – just easy-breezy days, filled with Popsicles, laughter, and general nonchalant recreation.

Until suddenly, after a few blissful weeks of laissez-faire attitudes and lax schedules, the novelty of summertime freedom wears off.

All manner of whining and lamenting ensues.

We’re bored!

There’s nothing to do!

He’s touching me!

She licked me!

WE. NEED. MORE. PIZZA. ROLLS!

The madness must be stopped. Our sanity and hemorrhaging grocery bills depend on it.

Enter: Letterboxing and Geocaching.

Letterboxing and geocaching are like modern day treasure hunts – minus all the pillaging and plundering.

Each activity utilizes a website or app which gives directions to a specific location, where a box or cache awaits. Inside each container, you’ll find a logbook where you can record your find, and in some cases, something to record in your personal logbook, as well.

Some hunts are challenging, while others are easy enough to include the littlest of littles. Level of difficulty, type of terrain, and other pertinent information are available through each activity’s respective sites and/or apps. Each hunt takes relatively little time or money to begin, and they’ve both been boredom-busting-hits with our family.

While letterboxing and geocaching share many similarities, they do have some distinct differences.

Letterboxing

If I had to choose between letterboxing and geocaching, letterboxing would come out on top. I prefer letterboxing for two reasons. First, once you’ve read and/or printed the directions to get to the box you’re trying to find, you no longer need any electronic devices. The location is often described using a theme or story, sometimes with riddles or even ciphers. You’re free to enjoy the great outdoors with your family, sans electronic distraction.

The second reason I prefer letterboxing, is the personal touches. Letterboxing differs from geocaching in that each letterbox contains a stamp as well as a logbook. The stamps are often hand-carved, and have personal meaning to the owner of the box. You also carry a stamp with you, which acts as your “signature” in the logbooks of the letterboxes that you find. It all feels just a little more personal and meaningful – but the boxes can sometimes be difficult to find. If you’re more type A and prefer a cut and dry pinpointed location at which to find your treasure, then geocaching is for you.

Geocaching

Geocaching is similar to letterboxing in that you begin by searching for a particular place where a cache with a logbook is hidden. It differs in that it utilizes GPS or exact latitude and longitude coordinates to give a precise pinpoint location. Many caches give both, allowing you to navigate with either a compass or a smartphone with GPS capabilities. My kids LOVE watching the screen as our marker gets closer and closer to the location of the cache. It really is exciting and makes one feel like a modern-day explorer.

A magnetic key box was used to house this cache — how inventive!

Both letterboxing and geocaching continue to grow in popularity with boxes and caches waiting to be found almost everywhere – even in other countries.

There are a few different sites and apps available, but these are the ones that we prefer:

Letterboxing: https://www.atlasquest.com/

Geocaching: https://www.geocaching.com/play

So the next time someone asks you for her fifth snack of the day or whines about how bored she is, snatch him up by his hot little hand and shout, “LET THE HUNT BEGIN!”

I guarantee you’ll be the coolest mom on the block 😉

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