Want to get your kids off the couch, away from the video games for a few hours? Try Letterboxing, a Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection program designed to get families moving and learning about the environment.
"It's definitely a scavenger hunt," says Helene Hochholzer with the D.E.P. "It has really taken off." First, you print directions to one of the state's 32 letterboxes from the computer. Then, you drive to the location. Follow the driving instructions and then pick up the treasure hunt by foot.
We explored Meshomasic State Forest in East Hampton, which was the first state forest that Connecticut ever purchased. Today, it stretches over 9,000 acres through 5 towns. Believe it or not, Meshomasic is home to some slithering snakes! "Actually, this area is rattlesnake habitat," says Hochholzer.
We looked for a pond, a yellow gate, a clear running brook and some very tall pine trees. After we accomplished those goals, we set off on a walk through the woods where we scouted out a ledge outcrop and a hollow log. When we found the log, we were careful to poke around first, to protect ourselves from those rattling creatures! The coast was clear and we reached inside to find a plastic bag which contained the actual Letterbox. Inside, there is a notebook and a stamp. In time capsule fashion, I left my mark at Meshomasic and then stamped my notebook as proof of my trip there.
Some families make a day of it, and visit several forests in an effort to get as many stamps as possible. If you get five stamps, the D.E.P. will reward you with a special patch. Thirty-two stamps will win you a walking stick.
"What's not to like?" says Hochholzer. "Most kids I know love it."Copyright © 2015, CT Now