The Evolution of the Treasure Hunt; from Letterboxing to Pokemon Go

By: twadmin | 27 Feb 2018
the red barn with the hayfields in the background

The drive to get people (not just children) out doors and moving more is never more prevalent than just before spring break when students of all ages (and their parents) will find themselves with time on their hands and in need of ideas to fill it. The company REI started their campaign;  “#optoutside – will you go with us? ” last year in an effort to get people to reconnect outdoors. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas along with Senator Martin Heinrich, Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Elise Stefanik, Congressman Scott Tipton and Congresswoman Diana DeGette introduced the Every Kid Outdoors Act, it’s purpose; encourage the general public to experience the beauty and diversity of America’s public lands. Even the tech world has gotten into the movement by creating “Pokemon Go” which combines kids love of all things Pokemon and the challenge to search for them in strategic places outdoors.

Long before the invention of technology the hobby of Letterboxing was established. It’s origins began in Dartmoor, Devon, England in 1854. In an attempt to educate visitors on Dartmoor, a well know guide, James Perrott, placed a bottle for visiting cards at Cranmere Pool on the northern moor. This practice evolved into hikers on the moors leaving a letter or postcard inside a box along the trail addressed to themselves, a friend or relative – hence the name “letterboxing”, when the next hiker discovered the box they would leave their own letter then collect the letters or postcards in the box and post them in the mail. The earliest letterboxes were placed in such remote areas that only the most adventurous hikers would find them and weeks would pass before they were posted in the mail.

hiker taking a break on mootry point
view of the dm at parks pond

Letterboxing in the United States has taken the long way around not being introduced until 1998 when it was in a feature article for Smithsonian Magazine. The Letterboxing hobby has evolved over the years from your Traditional Box to as in all things in this century Virtual Boxes. For the purpose of this blog post I’ll keep the the traditional types where you have to get up off the couch and commune with nature. The various kinds include but are not limited to;  Traditional Box, Mystery Box, Bonus Box, Word of Mouth Box, Cuckoo Clue, Hitchhiker, Personal Traveler, Cootie, Flea, Hitchhiker Hostel, and American Parasite. The details on each type can be found on the Wikipedia  page for Letterboxing.

In doing research for this blog post I discovered that Tarrywile Park is the location of a few local Letterboxes that have been recorded as of April 2017. In this age of technology it’s encouraging to see there are still hobbyists participating in the more hands on practices (of course you need the internet to find the clues but that’s were the use of technology ends). Letterboxing is the perfect outdoor activity that easy on the wallet; the only things you need to participate are access the the clues, a pencil, personal rubber stamp, ink pad, notebook, a sturdy pair of walking shoes and water to stay hydrated. In each Letterbox you should find; a notebook, rubber stamp. When you find a box you make an imprint of the the letterbox’s stamp in your personal notebook then leave an impression of your personal signature stamp on the letterbox’s “visitors book” or “logbook” as proof of finding the box and also letting other Letterboxers know you have visited. Many letterboxers keep careful track of their “find count”.

water cistern and rose bushes
picture of tarrywile park trail map

So this spring and summer break leave technology behind and step outside and into the world of Letterboxing where the treasure you find at the end of the treasure map is not something you can hold in your hand or put in the bank but something far more valuable. When you figure it out send me a quick email and photo or post to our Facebook Page and share what you found with other Tarrywile Park lovers. I’m looking forward to seeing what you find. You just might be surprised where this quest takes you.

The following are some resources that will introduce you to the world of Letterboxing;

Atlas Quest

Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Wikipedia – Letterboxing as a hobby

Next edition we will cover Geocaching so stay tuned…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, thank you for your continued support of Tarrywile Park and please consider donating to help us continue to take care of this park that we all love and enjoy.