Manhattan Beach Brownie Troop Creates Letterbox History ProjectOct 13, 2021 10:28AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A Manhattan Beach brownie troop has partnered with the Manhattan Beach Historical Society to place letterboxes around town near historical sites.
Letterboxing is a “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity, in which letterbox enthusiasts hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online.
There are about 90,000 active letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual letterboxes usually contain a log book and a rubber stamp which is sometimes hand carved. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox’s logbook.
Letterboxing also happens to be one of the badges Brownie troops can earn in the Girl Scout program.
Troop 70825 of Manhattan Beach knew that the girls would enjoy a scavenger hunt hiding and finding letterboxes. But they wanted the activity to have a little more meaning for the girls and to create a lasting impact in the community.
"For the troop’s first meeting of the year, we spent the first 30 minutes at the Beach Cottage Museum in Polliwog Park learning a bit about Manhattan Beach’s history," troop co-leader Amy McIntyre told DigMB. "Then, they broke out into five groups. Each group got a letterbox with a stamp and a log book but in addition to that, inside each box is a short write-up about a local historical site and some photos of what the site used to look like when it was originally built. Each group received clues leading them to the letterbox’s hiding spot, which happens to be next to the historical site discussed in the box."
These five letterboxes are currently listed on letterboxing.org and atlasquest.com (the two most popular letterboxing sites). This means that any letterboxing enthusiasts hunting for boxes in Manhattan Beach will end up learning about the town’s history in the process.
To get the clues to find the letterboxes, visit those two websites. (They are currently at the top of the page, but you can also search for letterboxes from Troop 70825.) For the full letterboxing experience, be sure to bring a stamp, ink pad, and log book when you go to look for the letterboxes.
The Tradition of Scouts and the Historical Society
"It’s always a pleasure to work with scouting groups and to see young people interested in local Manhattan Beach history," Gary McAuley, the president of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, told DigMB.
McAulay noted that there have been two Eagle Scout projects to install the native garden in front of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society's Beach Cottage Museum at Polliwog Park, done with the assistance of Julie Gonella from the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden. The historical society was also the beneficiary of a Girl Scout Gold Star project that included a history scavenger hunt. Additionally, there have been two Eagle Scout projects to restore a 1927 real estate office, donated by the late Rick Maribito from Rick's Rain Gutters. The historical society is still working with the city to develop placement plans.
"Scouting was the earliest Manhattan Beach youth organization, beginning as far back as 1920," noted McAuley. "Scout projects like the letterboxing activity and the various community service projects by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts not only educate young people about their local history but make them a part of that history."