Sunday, November 06, 2005

Welcome to Letterboxing, Mid Missouri style

The other links on this page will take you the Letterboxing North America (LBNA) frequently asked questions and the new letterboxers online discussion board. But you should probably know more about this site and the folks who have planted all those wonderful boxes in this region.

Webfoot got us started by planting Mid Missouri's first box -- Batcave on Aug. 31, 2002. JennyJ picked up her interest in letterboxing from relatives in the Northeast, was Bat Cave's first finder and planted the first notable set of boxes in the area. But letterboxing really blossomed here when Lnd-Crzr organized a spring gathering at Rock Bridge State Park of 2005. A very informal group grew from that – the Mid Missouri Letterboxers. We continue to meet for conversation and boxing two or three times a year.

There are no rules in letterboxing – in MidMo or elsewhere. But there are strong traditions and etiquette. We letterbox under the most fundamental ethic:

Do No Harm

Here are a few of the ways we find to accomplish that:
  • Show respect for nature and property-- never dig for a box nor damage the surroundings.
  • Show respect for the person who hid the box – return it carefully to its hiding place, leaving only your stamp as evidence you have been there. Then both log your find on LBNA and contact the placer.
  • Show respect for the person who lovingly carved the stamp – treat it with care, keep it clean and return it to its box or bag.
  • Leave the box as you would have liked to have found it. Sometimes boxes or books are damaged by water or critters. Replace torn zip-bags and notify the owner of other problems. And, again, proper “re-hidation” is the key to continued enjoyment.
  • Be discreet. Some say the best part of letterboxing is making a find, stamping the log and returning the box while those around you are totally oblivious. Shouting “I found it!” or leading a tour group to a box site are considered poor form.
  • Play fair. Log your find with LBNA so the placer gets her or his share of the fun. And don’t give others shortcuts to the box, which may mean watching what photos you take
If you plan to place your own boxes, we have a few traditions here that we want to share:
  • Find a dozen or so boxes before you place one of your own. That will help you determine what makes a "good hide."
  • We think it both polite and smart to label all boxes well. It should at least say “This is a Letterbox” and provide the Web address of LBNA. Realize that geocachers or "muggles" may find your box, so explain to them what to do with it. And please -- don't let anyone mistake it for a bomb or weapon.
  • It is easy to get excited on the hunt and not see where you are. Please don't endanger searchers by placing a box near a road, airport or other hazard.
  • Double-bag logbooks and other parts of the box that could be damaged by rain.
  • Select a site that takes a little forethought to find. Boxes placed in very obvious spots are quickly taken or damaged. And they are not much fun.
  • While many letterboxers use store-bought stamps, the tradition in this region is to put a hand-carved stamp in your box. The stamp should reflect something about the box name. Remember that the box name is often one if its own best clues.
  • Attend one of the Mid Missouri Letterboxing gatherings so we can learn from your skill and you can learn from ours. We have plenty of folk who will teach you to carve, navigate with a compass, make logbooks or write clues
More than anything else, we want you to enjoy letterboxing in Mid Missouri. We will do our best to make sure nothing spoils your hobby. Please do the same.

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