By Ammie Bryant, photos provided by Amy Edgar
Everyone loves a good treasure hunt. For some of us, last summer it was Pokemon Go invading our phones and our lives, and this summer it’s back to low-tech basics with painted rocks.
This particular treasure hunt began last summer in Stillwater, when a friend sent Amy Edgar information about a rock painting group in Missouri. Her friend knew that Amy enjoyed painting and doing crafts and thought she would find it interesting.
So in August of last year, Amy Edgar and her kids painted a bunch of rocks and began hiding them around town. With each rock they left a note that explained how this particular “treasure hunt” works:
1.) Paint rocks – be creative
2.) Hide rocks for someone else to find.
3.) Hunt for rocks – find one you like, keep it to enjoy yourself, but make another one to hide. Or re-hide the one you found, for someone else to find.
4.) Take a picture and post it on Stillwater Rocks Facebook page to let the creator of the rock know it was found and re-hid or went to a good home.
5.) Have fun!
Thus, Stillwater Rocks was born.
“The first rocks we painted, we hid at a local park,” explained Amy. “Then we hung around afterwards and witnessed some kids finding them and their smiles were so big!”
Amy and her kids have had fun with their new found hobby and watching how it has grown.
Amy particularly enjoys the “found art” aspect of the hidden painted rocks. While the instructions say to “hide rocks” most are hidden in plain sight. Many of the rocks that Amy and her kids leave around town are at local businesses. “I ask for permission before leaving them, then I post clues on facebook to encourage people to visit those businesses to find them,” said Amy. “I like to support our local small businesses. I’m looking for ways to branch out and work with more groups too.”
Since Amy created the facebook group, Stillwater Rocks, almost 500 people have joined in on the fun. Many of these people found the group because they first found a rock with the note directing them to the facebook group.
Just as this hidden painted rock phenomenon spread to Stillwater because Amy Edgar saw a facebook group out of Missouri doing it, so it has spread to surrounding communities like Cushing and Enid.
“I love seeing how many groups have formed from this one simple project. Since I started Stillwater Rocks last year, I know of at least three other groups that have started just from someone seeing the idea here and wanting to bring it to their community. I love it!”
It turns out that the hidden painted rocks phenomenon began in 2015, with the Kindness Rocks Project. Megan Murphy of Cape Cod, Massachusetts walks the beach daily. It’s where she goes to think and find peace and insight. She often found herself looking for “signs” of encouragement and guidance in her surroundings. Whenever she would find a heart shaped rock or piece of glass she viewed these found objects as the “signs” she was looking for—as a divine message and the bit of inspiration she needed. She began to think that maybe she wasn’t the only one looking for these kinds of signs.
She began painting and dropping a few rocks at time. The rocks were painted with encouraging messages of hope and peace and love. Then gradually, she started receiving messages back. Friends and strangers let Megan know how much the rocks they found meant to them. She increased her efforts and added social media, a website (thekindnessrocksproject.com), and encouraged others to join her. Megan’s hobby turned into a movement.
The Kindness Rocks Project has spread across the United States and beyond to at least nine other countries. Because Cape Cod is a travel destination for people around the world, travelers helped spread the message of the Kindness Rocks Project through their pictures and social media. Many were moved enough to start a similar project in their community. And so it spread and found its way across the U.S. to our hometown of Stillwater, with each community putting its own twist and interpretation on it.
So, if you happen upon a painted rock somewhere in Stillwater—whether it has a message of peace, hope, and love or is painted to resemble a ladybug or a ninja turtle—know that this little found art object has roots in kindness and the goal of inspiring others through randomly placed rocks along the way and to recruit everyone who finds it to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through random acts of kindness. Amy Edgar’s own goals for her family’s participation in “Stillwater Rocks” fall in line with those of the Kindness Rocks Project, “We try to leave a little something happy wherever we go.”
So why not join in on the fun? Because kindness—and Stillwater—rocks.