We have had a yearly membership to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum for probably five years. It's a great place to go and, my favorite part, they participate in a Cultural Exchange program where you can visit other places around town for free during certain months. During the month of August, it is usually the John Ball Zoo. So, I wanted to make sure we took advantage of this opportunity to go to the zoo for free and this month is just FLYING by so I made sure to put it on the books for today.
Side note here- I have chosen to have a membership to the Children's Museum because I can use it all year long. If we go to the zoo once or twice during the free month, we've gotten our fill of the zoo for a year. The first year I decided to get a membership somewhere, I did the zoo and we BARELY went enough to make it worth our money. We've always gone to the Children's Museum PLENTY throughout the year. I do think, however, that we will get our membership this coming year at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The boys are getting a little old for the Children's Museum, my husband and I really enjoy Frederik Meijer Gardens, and it's a great place for year-round activities. Maybe a little more so in the summer but not so much a strictly summer activity like the zoo is.
Ok, on with the story... so this morning, Aidan points out that we haven't been letterboxing in a while and he really wants to go. I think this is a great idea, it's always so much fun (except when we look and look to no avail- more on that later) BUT remember, the zoo is FREE and I want to take advantage of this! I decide to find a letterbox in a location near the zoo then we can do both. I'm a genius sometimes.
So what exactly IS letterboxing? From the Letterboxing North America website: Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. To begin your letterboxing adventure, visit a letterboxing website- I like to use the LBNA site, linked above- and search for a location and figure out which box you want to find. Then you gather a few supplies and head out on your adventure. The supplies you need are a notebook, pen, rubber stamp, ink pad, and something to clean the stamp with. Here is what we have in our bag:
You'll notice Connor's trail book has the name Heads-N-Tails on it and Aidan's has Hunter. These are their trail names (you'll want your own trail name, too). And Connor's stamp is the monkey and Aidan's is the black lab. You've got your clues and your bag of goodies and now you're ready to head off. What you will do is follow the clues until you find the box that is hidden. When you open the box, you will find a trail book and a rubber stamp. You take your stamp and put it in the box's trail book along with your trail name and the date. I like to flip through the book and see the other stamps and read the trail names and see how often the box is found. The box we found today was just placed in November of last year and the trail book was almost filled up already! After you stamp in the box's book, put the box's stamp in your trail book. And, eventually, you'll end up with a collection of stamps from different letterboxes that you've found. It's like a little treasure hunt. Gets us out into nature and the boys love the adventure!
Today, our hunt was fairly easy and we found the box, which is always a bonus. It doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes they've been moved or taken or we just plain can't find it. The clues were based on Nessi, who is a concrete statue of the Loch Ness Monster that resides in the pond in front of the zoo. When we found the box, the boys were so excited and to make it even more exciting, there was a hand carved stamp inside that was the coolest EVER, according to Aidan.
We were running a little short on time today so we didn't get a chance to journal about our experience, but the boys will each journal in their book about the adventure. This was a great find and a lot of fun. I'm glad I decided to try and do letterboxing and the zoo today!