Letterboxing at Skyland Ranch

Volunteer Retreat 2003

As part of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Long Beach's 2003 Volunteer Retreat at Skyland Ranch (their mountain property), an event requiring people to get up and wander about the place had to be found. In previous years, a camp-wide scavenger hunt and an orienteering event were used. This year, it was decided to try letterboxing.

searchingA more thorough introduction to letterboxing can be found at Getting Started, but briefly, after having made a personal stamp, and carrying paper, paper towels, an ink pad, and written clues, one sneaks about the landscape searching for letterboxes. Such a box contains a stamp, a small notebook for "stamping in" at that box, and some paper towel for cleaning the stamp.

When (IF!) the box is found, one stamps one's own stamp into the book in the letterbox, and stamps the letterbox stamp onto one's own paper or book. The stamps are cleaned of ink, and replaced, taking care to hide the letterbox at least as carefully as it was when you found it. During all this, one must be careful not to be observed -- waving the letterbox in the air and screaming "I FOUND IT! I FOUND IT!" is distinctly bad form. (Can't let the Muggles know what you're doing!)

opening letterbox stamping in

If this sounds intriguing, a more thorough description and details (including lists of letterbox locations in places other than Skyland Ranch) can be found at the Letterboxing - North America web site.

skyland stamps
In order to prepare the "letterboxes", stamps had to be carved. In all, 9 were created and placed in letterboxes.

Demo Letterbox parts The boxes themselves were peanut butter jars, thoroughly washed and soaked to remove odors.

Since they were placed on Friday afternoon for a Saturday event, we didn't have time to prepare copies of the clues (we didn't know exactly where the boxes would be placed!) copying cluesThe clues were written on sheets of paper, and taped to the walls for the participants to copy. We suggested they go out in teams, so they each didn't have to copy all of them.

The boxes were all left in place, but the ink pads were taken, since the ink would freeze in the winter and dry up quickly in the summer.

Volunteer Retreat 2004

The 2003 event was so much fun, we decided to do it again! Seven new stamps were added, for a total of sixteen, and when we left, we left the inkpads in the letterboxes. No guarantees here -- you mght still want to bring your own ink pads and paper towels -- but your troop should have a lot of fun if you try this.

Using the Boxes with Your Troop

You'll need to bring supplies for making stamps, some sort of paper to record the stamps you find, and paper towels. Depending on their age level, plan on taking your troop around in groups. You'll also need the clues to the nine letterboxes, which are listed below and which can be downloaded as a Word document and in Adobe Acrobat format. They're divided into four groups:

Letterboxes near Duncan Lodge Letterboxes north of (toward the flagpole and downhill from) Duncan Lodge Letterboxes toward Wishhaven Letterboxes near Wishhaven

Have Fun!

Bob Prager