Krimson Mumford and her prize at Garden City Town Hall / Photo courtesy Emily Roberson, Hanceville Rocks
CULLMAN COUNTY – At various places around Cullman County this summer, kids of all ages are scouring parks, public flower beds and green spaces, and other places to catch an elusive prize. This time, though, it’s not Pokémon Go; they’re looking for things they can put their hands on.
Folks are searching for rocks. That’s it: rocks. But not just any rocks; these rocks are painted, often with designs or images, and may contain a message or organization name. And they’re all over the place. At least two groups, “Cullmancityrocks” and “Cullman Rocks,” are based in Cullman; while Hanceville has its own “Hanceville Rocks.” All three groups have Facebook pages where members post pictures of rocks they’ve found, or ones they’re getting ready to hide.
The painted rock hunting movement seems to be the brainchild of Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based women’s empowerment coach Megan Murphy. On her website http://thekindnessrocksproject.com she explained her intent:
“The Kindness Rocks Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.
“Now more than ever kindness can become a connecting force for good. Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelm, unease and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today, and I believe that our united strength can be cultivated through simple random acts of kindness. Each of us can make a positive difference. Together we can make a positive IMPACT!
“Living near the ocean, I walk the beach daily. The beach is where many go when they seek insight or a peaceful place to think. Losing my parents at a young age meant losing my advisers, my sounding board, and my role models. During difficult or stressful moments in my life, I found myself looking for “signs” on my morning walk, such as a heart shaped rock or a piece of sea glass. I perceived these small beach treasures as “signs” or as a divine message and the random inspiration I needed to signify that things would be o.k.”
The movement appears to have found its way to Cullman County via Kristy Conard, who started “Cullmanrocks” on Facebook, and changed it to “Cullmancityrocks” after the “Cullman Rocks” group appeared. She shared:
“I found out about these rock painting groups through Facebook. I'm from Florida, and some friends back home were painting and posting. I thought, ‘What a cool idea.’ I decided I'd try to start a group here; this was back in March. I slacked a little on getting it started, and in the meantime other groups in the area have started as well. Hanceville Rocks has 888 members. The second Cullman group created in June is called Cullman Rocks, and has over 1,000 members. My group is slowly growing and we are hoping to get it going more by the fall.”
The city’s other group, “Cullman Rocks,” offers the following explanation on its page:
“This is a community-building group meant to inspire creativity in all ages and energize people to explore the beautiful area in which we live. All you have to do is find some rocks and some painting supplies and get creative! This is fun for ALL ages young and old.
“The goal is to get lots of people all across our communities painting so that there are lots of rocks to find out there. You might find yourself rediscovering parts of our community you haven't appreciated in a while.”
The rules of the game are simple, as laid out on the “Hanceville Rocks” Facebook page:
- Get some rocks and paint them with any design and color desired. Painters are requested to keep things clean, since a lot of kids are hunting. If you are doing this for a group or organization, put its name on the back.
- Hide your rocks in public places: city parks, public gardens and flower beds; just about anywhere. Avoid private property, and don’t hide rocks too close to streets or driveways.
- Go hunting for other rocks. When you find one with a group name on it, photograph it and post to the group’s Facebook page, then re-hide it somewhere else. If you really like that rock, feel free to take it but replace it with one of your own. (Take one, make one!)
There aren’t winners and losers; it’s all just for fun. For painters, there’s the joy of creativity, and for hunters the thrill of discovery.
The movement is even drawing some unexpected fans, like Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail, who was among the first to join Hanceville Rocks. The City has even created its own official rock with the city seal; kids who find and return the rock to city hall get a $10 prize.
Nail shared, “Megan Bear called me and said, ‘Mayor, what do you think of this idea?’ I think it’s a wonderful idea. I’ve heard of it in other places in south Alabama, but I’d not heard of it here. I said, ‘If I’m involved with it, what I want is for it to be positive and fun. This is a great, positive little thing for kids to do. We’re excited about it.”
Mayor Nail cautioned parents to be watchful when kids are rock hunting in grassy or wooded areas, noting that the summer season is also prime snake season.
Conard plans for the movement to continue growing, and it’s living up to expectations; the “Cullmancityrocks” page gained more than 300 new members just this past weekend. She and Megan Bear of “Hanceville Rocks” hope to hold a rock-painting event in Cullman during the month of August. She looks forward to hiding and hunting with her daughter Jessa Parker, and to seeing pictures of her rocks appear on the “Cullmancityrocks” page.
“I love the whole concept of it,” Conard shared. “Last summer we hunted Pokémon all over Cullman; this summer we are doing something a little different. Painting rocks together as a family is a great way to spend some quality time together, then you get to get some exercise and get out and hide them and hunt for others’ rocks! We put ‘Cullmanrocks’ (now ‘Cullmancityrocks’) on the back of all our rocks. We ask that you take a picture when you find it and post to our Facebook page. You’re welcome to take it home with you, but please paint some and keep the project going! My group’s motto is ‘Enjoy the simple things!’ You'll find a rock somewhere at Sportsman Lake with that painted on it! Happy hunting to anyone who’d like to join us!”
For more information or to get involved, visit:
“Cullmancityrocks” – www.facebook.com/groups/396084707451164
“Cullman Rocks” – www.facebook.com/groups/258959644584827
“Hanceville Rocks” – www.facebook.com/groups/467440523594329
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