GREENVILLE — Every other year for about five years, Tina White and her sister Mitzi Johnson, both of Greenville, Ohio have hosted Letterboxing.
Letterboxing is hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes contain a notebook and a rubber stamp, preferably hand carved or custom made. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp in their personal notebook, and leave an impression of their personal signature stamp on the letterbox’s logbook to provide a log of those letterboxers that visited. Letterboxers fill up books of the stamps they have collected over the years. They keep a log, on-line of their numbers. The stamp carvings are simply or intricately crafted of animals, people, logos, signatures, and many other objects.
Saturday, June 17, White and Johnson hosted a Letterboxing Event at Darke County Park District’s Shawnee Prairie Preserve and Nature Center, in Greenville. They hid 75 stamps around the trails for the guests to seek. They also served everyone a potluck lunch of goulash and a chicken/rice/sausage dish with side dishes and desserts. Right under 100 people arrived from 12 different states, such as Sherry Alford and Connie Myers, of Tarpon Springs Florida, who drove 850 miles to attend. One reason, according to Alford, is to get Myers’s rubber stamp images.
“People come from all over the world to get her cards,” Alford said. “We get to know one another’s work over the years and collect what we like. It’s just fascinating to me that you can go anywhere in the world and find a little stamp in a shrub or something.”
Myers said letterboxing is a clean, healthy hobby for the entire family and church youth groups.
“It allows smaller children to think,” she said. “They have to get on the internet, read the clues and follow directions on how to find the stamps, such as: ‘Walk down the trial, look to the left, look for a tree and look under the big rock’. There is another phase for shut-ins who make stamped cards and trade them in the mail.”
White and Johnson have been letterboxing since 2007.
“It quickly became a large part of what we do and the people we keep in touch with year round,” White said.” The hobby can be done any day of the week, but these events take place to encourage a large group to hang out for a day or weekend, and hunt a large number of letterboxes put out temporarily for the event period.”
Instead of charging folks for the event, White and Johnson asked for donations for the park in the form of money or other items needed, such as bottled water, birdseed, sugar for the hummingbird feeders and windshield wiper fluid. Guests also brought in plastic lids and caps for the park bench program.
While White and Johnson enjoy hosting, they also plan their vacations around other events. I went to San Diego and I got on the website and said, ‘Hey, I’m coming to San Diego, who wants to meet up?’ Someone always comes. We have friends everywhere because of letterboxing.”
Letterboxers have nicknames. White’s is “Gypsy Lady Bug” and Johnson’s is “Cookie Cutter”. “Cookie Cutter” was her mom Janis Johnson’s Citizens band radio (CB) handle, and the sisters wanted to involve their mom.
“She would have loved this,” White said.
To learn more about letterboxing, visit https://www.atlasquest.com/
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.