Have you ever heard of the ancient pastime of letterboxing? L.L.Bean employee Kathleen Stevens has. She’s been a letterboxer for eight years. A few months ago, she hosted her first letterboxing event at our flagship store here in Freeport, Maine. We asked Kathleen to fill us in on what her favorite hobby is all about.
What exactly is letterboxing?
Letterboxing is a mix of art, journaling, solving mysteries, and hunting for buried treasure. It’s similar to geocaching, except that instead of finding an object and leaving one in its place, you’re collecting a stamp in your journal and leaving your signature stamp in the journal you’ve found. In order to find the box, you have to solve codes and track cryptic clues. There are no prizes to be won – the ultimate goal is to “check it off the list.” To begin your journey you’ll need a notebook, pen or pencil, ink pad and a personal stamp.
How often do you host letterboxing events?
Hosting events is a great way to get outside and hike. Every year I host at least two events. In August, we have approximately 150-200 people join us at Thomas Point Beach for a five-night event. When I schedule an event, I list it on AtlasQuest.com (a community Web site for letterboxers) so more folks have the opportunity to attend.
Why did you decide to host an event at the flagship store?
Last year, one of my letterboxing peers said, “You know what would be cool? An event at the store.” I looked at her funny and said, “What store?” She responded, “L.L.Bean, silly – you work there – make it happen.” I had thought about it before – how to introduce letterboxing at L.L.Bean – as it’s the predecessor to geocaching, but wasn’t sure how to do it.
I emailed our Retail Store Events Coordinator and she thought it would be fun. At first, we thought we’d get 25-30 people from Maine to come to the store, but then the responses came pouring in, and 105 people from all New England states – plus North Carolina – signed up.
Because everyone had such a great time, we’ve scheduled another event for next year. Already, we have more than 60 people signed up!
What do you enjoy most about this hobby?
I love many aspects of it. I’ve been to places all over Maine and New England that I would have never gone to before. People letterbox in every type of environment. You can find boxes inside, outside, on long hikes and other excursions. Currently, I’ve found over 3,500 boxes and planted 1,000 boxes all over the world, including in Afghanistan and Australia!
Have you ever tried letterboxing? Tell us in the comments below!