Thursday, June 4, 2009

Letterboxing Opportunities Abound in Richmond

Locals and visitors alike know that Richmond is a popular destination for American history enthusiasts. Racing fans flock to the area twice a year to take in big events at the Richmond International Speedway, and various summer concerts and festivals keep everybody entertained. For hobbyists interested in letterboxing, Richmond is rich with several opportunities to add timeless souvenirs to your collection, and memories to treasure.

A Brief Letterboxing Primer

For the benefit of readers new to this centuries-old practice of “treasure hunting,” letterboxing is similar to the “geocaching” trend gaining popularity among GPS users. Letterboxing has its origins in the mid 19th century in England, where secret boxes storing letters and other communications were happened upon or hunted. Visitors would leave something in return. In recent years, enthusiasts will hide letterboxes (usually a plastic, sealed container) containing rubber stamps and a guestbook in various places outdoors, and hunters will use the stamp for their own notebooks, while stamping the letterbox book to let the owner know it has been found. An Internet search for popular letterbox sites Letterboxing and Atlasquest will yield hundreds of such boxes hidden around the world.

Letterboxing in Richmond

One can find several letterboxes in the metropolitan Richmond area, in urban and rural locales. Traditionally, a hunter will check Internet sites for clues on where to find the boxes – some may give precise directions, while others may present a puzzle to decode in order reach the goal. For an idea of what to expect in Richmond letterboxes, here are a few select ones available for search:

Rules of Letterboxing

Some things to remember when going on a letterboxing expedition:

  • Make sure you have directions in hand. You won’t need a compass unless searching for a challenging box, but it’s good to print the directions from the letterboxing websites so you don’t get lost.
  • Be discreet when you find a letterbox. Some letterboxes hidden in parks and landmarks may be removed by staff or stolen, so if you find a box be careful with it and make sure it is hidden where you found it, so others can find it later.
  • Plan your route. There may be a number of different letterboxes hidden within a few miles of each other. Do your research and you can make a whole day of the search.
  • Have fun! Letterboxing with your kids is a great way to encourage their orienteering skills.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on downtown Richmond apartments and Richmond website design.

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