MADISON, NJ - If you’ve strolled through downtown lately, you may have seen something out of the corner of your eye that appeared to be a leftover Easter egg, but it wasn’t. It was a painted rock.
Madison families looking to fill these last few weeks before school starts have jumped on this nationwide trend that gets people out of their houses and into the fresh air, much like Pokemon Go did last summer.
The concept is simple: find a rock, paint it, and hide it somewhere around town. If you find a rock, you are free to keep it or hide it again for the next person.
The activity can be traced to the beginning of July when someone posted a national story about kindness rocks to a local Facebook group. Madison resident Tracy Bradshaw noticed the posting and mentioned it to her daughter, Bethany, a rising seventh grader at Madison Junior School. Bethany, who is always tinkering around with art supplies and looking for the next creative challenge, thought it sounded great. She promptly assembled a pile of rocks found in her backyard and painted them. She hid her first rocks and, with the help of her Mom, started a Facebook group exclusive to Madison, called appropriately enough “Madison NJ Rocks.” At the bottom of each rock, Bethany included the MadisonNJRocks hashtag as well as a Facebook icon to let people know about the group.
“I love that painting rocks has inspired people to be creative,” said Bethany. “I also like that it gives people a break from technology.”
Kathy Behrman, mom to four year old twins, was quick to join in on the fun. “This looked like it could give my kids something fun and easy to do while giving me a calming, creative outlet at the same time. Now, we are all completely obsessed!”
Behrman took a decidedly serious, thoughtful approach to the activity, buying a small bag of smooth, high quality landscape rocks at Home Depot and heading to an art supply store for the right kind of craft paint.
“I have found that the acrylic craft paint in a chalky finish works best for the base,” said Behrman, who consults Pinterest in advance for interesting painted rock designs that inspire her. “I think the metallic paints come out best, and I also use a clear spray as a finishing coat. I’ve been using a matte finish but I also think glossy would look cool, too.”
Bethany’s mom is happy the group her daughter started is growing. “We recently hit 200 members, which is incredible,” she said. “I’m also really happy to be able to show Bethany how to create and manage a Facebook account. I’m teaching her how to handle the responsibilities that come with running a project on social media, such as how to check people’s profiles to make sure they are local to Madison.”
Bethany was also super happy to learn that her MJS teachers got involved and painted their own rock for her to find at the library. “That one was a keeper for sure!” she said.
To join the Madison NJ Rocks group on Facebook, go to the groups tab on Facebook, type in Madison NJ Rocks into the search bar, and request permission to join.