SPARTA, NJ – Sometimes you have to look down to be uplifted.  You may have noticed painted rocks lying about around town.  Some are painted with pictures and designs, some have positive messages. 

This is not the work of elves, but local ‘artists’ looking to spread happiness one rock at a time. It is part of an initiative that is both national and grassroots.  People of all ages paint the rocks and place them someplace public.  Anyone may take the rock, or move it to another location for others to enjoy.

The current twist on pet rocks was brought to Sparta by Jamie Camacho.  She moved from Bucks County where she and her family had “participated in the activity for well over a year.” Her older daughter Hailey was puzzled at not finding rocks in her new town.  Finding no “Sparta, NJ Rocks” group, and at the urging of her daughters, Camacho started one. 

Sign Up for E-News

“My two daughters and I loved the idea and mission behind this family fun hobby and how it brought the community together,” Camacho said. 

Beginning in April, the Camacho family initially painted more than 50 rocks and began to hide them around the Sparta community.

“Each rock hidden was tagged with the phrase ‘Post to FB, [facebook] Sparta, NJ Rocks’ and slowly families began to join in the fun,” Camacho said. They asked local families and friends to join the facebook group and spread the word.

“Within a short time the word was getting out and dozens upon dozens were requesting to join the facebook page,” Camacho said.

A quick look at the Sparta, NJ Rocks facebook page tells the story.  Photo after photo of smiling faces holding treasure; rocks they have found or created for others to enjoy.  The elementary schools, Station Park and library park are popular with the rock crowd but they have also been found at Alpine Creamery, Sparta Pool, Sparta Hardware Store and Nutty Over Sweets.

The owner of Jamie’s Play Café said she wanted to do something that would bring the community together.  She has gotten notes from people sharing their children’s experiences finding rocks; smiles that lasted all day long, an easier visit to the doctor because of found rocks.

Families have posted photos on the Sparta, NJ Rocks with rocks they have found or created. 

People are encouraged to place the rocks in areas frequented children and families such as parks, ice cream shops, library and playground.  Even local businesses have gotten into the act but organizers ask that rocks be kept outside. 

“We also love to support our local fire fighters, police and service men and women, so we try to hide them around the firehouses and police stations with phrases like ‘Firefighters Rock!’ to remind these professionals we appreciate their daily commitment to our community,” Camacho said.  “We have also seen beautiful artwork on rocks that support our local Sparta sports teams.”

One of the most attractive facets of Sparta, NJ Rocks is that anyone can participate.  Everyone is invited to paint and hide and seek.  It is also a way to get children away from screen, TV, computer, phone or tablets, allows them to be creative and gets everyone outside. 

“The mission of Sparta, NJ Rocks is to spread kindness, joy, inspiration to others through the messages and artwork on the rocks,” Camacho said.  “We want others to feel something special when they find their first rocks and their 50 rock.  We hope that through this activity others will come together, will rediscover our beautiful town and that ‘rocking’ will become a family affair.”

Next time you are in a park or at a store in town, remember to look down, you never know what treasure you may find.   

Please share Sparta rock photos to Jdericks@tapinto.net to be included