As a mom of boys, I know that I should check all pockets before doing the wash or my machine will be full of rocks, sticks, and acorns. Around the world, boys and girls are finding, and squirreling away, tiny treasures offered up by the earth; a smooth rock perfect for skipping across a lake, a shell with a pretty pattern, or a leaf full of colors. Their wonder and excitement at these natural objects is infectious. A new game has emerged, capitalizing on the unexpected pleasure of a found treasure. Now even adults can find something special in an ordinary place, sparking the kindling of childlike discovery.
A movement called Kindness Rocks has spread like wildfire across the world. It began in 2015 with one woman’s desire to spread joy. Until Thursday, I didn’t know that this movement existed. My son came running up to me at the South East Library yelling, “Look what I found!” This is not abnormal. I often feign excitement over a piece of concrete or a squirming earthworm. I was delighted when I saw what he was holding in his hand. The object was a small rock, beautifully painted with a message (clearly meant for me and not my boys), “Summer Time: A little wine and a lot of laughs.” My boys and I were equally enamored with this treasure.
On the back of the rock was a note informing us to post a picture to the St Augustine Rocks* Facebook page. We took a picture, which I later posted to the group. The creator of our little rock, Nancy Brenner, commented and we discovered she was an administrator for our local rock organization and another in Palatka called Palatka Rocks. Nancy began both groups in December of 2016 so that she and her three granddaughters (who live in St. Augustine) could participate in the nationwide phenomenon. The Palatka group grew very quickly to almost 4,000 members, where multiple rock painting events are planned for the summer. The St. Augustine group has amassed 1,500 members and continues to grow. I am certain that this game will spread in the oldest city as summer break will provide additional time and opportunity for play. We will undoubtedly be finding abundant painted rocks all over our beautiful town in the months to come.
This is a game for adults just as much as the children. Grandparents are hiding and painting rocks with their grandchildren. Moms are hiding messages in parks for other moms. Children are hiding stones for other children. There are retirees placing surprises for visitors in hopes of spreading joy and kindness across the world. This game is contagious and beautiful.
What to do:
You don’t need to find a rock in order to join in on the fun. First, request acceptance to your local rock group (so that you can see who finds your creation) and hide your own painted surprise.
One to three-inch river rocks can be purchased at Dollar Tree or at any of our local garden centers. If your rock has a “waxy” coating, try to boil them to remove the film prior to painting. Here are instructions, found on our local rock group Facebook page, on painting your own masterwork:
“Base paint – Acrylic works well, flat and satin best but I’ve used both. Spray on in light even coats or brush on slightly diluted acrylic paints available in art stores in plastic bottles or at Walmart 50 cents each. Designs can be brushed on, sprayed on, or put on with paint pens or Sharpies. After all paint is thoroughly dry, top coat with a spray of clear acrylic. Light coat first if using sharpies. I like gloss best. Remember to “tag the bottom of your rock” by writing or label… Example: FB post pic on my MYCITY ROCKS”
These rocks spread joy to the people who find them. There are inspirational tales of people finding encouragement outside of a hospital, lost souls finding hope on the beach, and lonely hearts finding love in the form of a little piece of earth. These stones spread kindness from one person to another, expecting nothing in return (except maybe a picture informing the creator of its new owner).
On Thursday, that sweet little rock was a gift reminding me that summer is a time of abundant joy. There will be celebrations and lots of family togetherness to look forward to. And, these will be the days I reminisce about for yours to come. So, I will re-hide it somewhere for another woman to find. Hopefully, they will get as much enjoyment out of it as we have.
A treasure hunt, with its only purpose being joy, is an incredible delight. I am honored to be a part of such a lovely idea. We will be creating and hiding rocks for you to find. Happy hunting and may kindness and compassion spread around the earth one person at a time.
*Please note: There are two rock groups on Facebook in St Augustine. The rock group with 1,500 members, founded by Nancy Brenner, is St Augustine Rocks without a period in the abbreviation for Saint. Please be sure to omit the “.” when sharing and posting your rocks if you wish to be in this group.