If you haven’t heard about rock finding, you may be living, well, under a rock.
Several Facebook groups have brought the growing trend of painting and hiding rocks to Jackson County.
Now, hundreds of children and adults are participating, and more are catching on each day.
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Melanie O’Neal and her son, Josh, of Seymour found 14 rocks while out on a recent bike ride through town, and then the whole family went for a walk the next night to rehide them.
“It’s a great idea to get families out and about,” Melanie said.
Chelsi York of Seymour started Jackson County Indiana Rocks! this past spring as something fun for kids and adults to do together. She also thought it would be a great activity for the developmentally disabled clients she works with through Developmental Services Inc.
The activity encourages people to get outside and explore their community, and it’s designed for all ages and abilities, York said.
She learned of the hobby, which she describes as a cross between Pokémon Go and geocaching, after hearing about a group in northeast Ohio that paints and hides rocks for people to find. There are now rock hunting groups all over the country.
“This is simply to add a little fun in a busy, crazy world,” she said.
Julie Kelly started a rock hunt group in North Vernon. Her mom lives in Seymour and wanted to get involved, too, so they searched for a Seymour group and when they couldn’t find one decided to create Seymour Rock Finds, which now has more than 500 followers.
“We have so much fun painting rocks and hiding them as a family, and it’s such a joy to see all the kids’ faces and smiles when finding them,” Kelly said. “I hope the whole community gets involved and enjoys them like we have.”
Amanda Jones of Seymour said her kids love hunting for rocks, especially her son, Jordyn.
“It’s like an adventure for everyone,” he said.
“I myself think it’s fun to find one, hide it and see it found again,” Amanda said. “It’s great to see the kids so excited to find a pretty rock.”
Although she knew of the other groups, Jen Cockerham of Seymour decided to start Jackson County Painted Rock Hunt for her children. The Facebook group now has more than 700 members.
She enjoys seeing all of the different rocks that are out there, and her kids love the opportunity to show off their artistic abilities by painting rocks.
It’s a good, creative outlet for children who enjoy art, she added.
The idea behind rock hunting is simple.
Anyone can paint and decorate rocks with pretty pictures, cartoon characters or an inspirational message and hide them in public places in the community. You can post hints on the groups’ Facebook pages about where rocks are located.
When you find a rock, take a picture, post it and then rehide it for someone else to enjoy.
Rocks are being hidden and found all over the community — in downtown Seymour, in restaurant drive-thrus, in parks and parking lots, at the library. Some are even popping up in local businesses.
There aren’t many rules. Messages and decorations on rocks should not be vulgar or offensive, and rocks should not be placed on private property without the owner’s permission. Also, rocks should be kept out of grassy areas that are frequently mowed.
One location you should avoid for hiding rocks is Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge just east of Seymour. After several people posted photos of children finding painted rocks on refuge property, the refuge issued a statement that the rocks violated federal conservation policies.
Some of the rocks being found were advertising businesses, which isn’t allowed at the refuge.
“Like most conservation areas, you are not allowed to take anything from or leave anything on the property,” the refuge posted on its Facebook page. “We would encourage everyone visiting a natural area to abide by a personal rule of take only memories and leave only footprints.”
Marissa Barger, 16, of Seymour said she has painted and hid around 50 rocks so far in Seymour and Brownstown. She likes that anyone can be in on the fun.
“It’s a community activity rather than specifically for a certain age group, and that’s what makes it fun,” she said. “My mom, grandma and I go rocking hunting/hiding on the weekends or days we’re both off.”
When York started her group, she was afraid not enough people were interested. But that quickly changed after Sean Hildreth with Jackson County United Way and Seymour City Councilman Matt Nicholson caught wind of the idea.
Now, Jackson County Indiana Rocks! is up to 1,168 members, and to celebrate, York is planning a big event Thursday.
At 6 p.m., anyone interested in hiding rocks can show up at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour for the 1,000 Rock Drop. York is hoping to have 1,000 rocks available for people to hide.
“We want to make this huge and flood the town with rocks,” York said.
She has enlisted the help of local day cares, churches, nursing homes, businesses, Girls Inc. of Jackson County, Boys & Girls Club of Seymour and DSI to paint the rocks.
On Thursday, the community is invited to meet at the library and bring their own painted rocks to contribute. There will be rocks available for those who don’t have any. The rocks will be divided up, and then people can go and hide them.
Anyone wanting to drop off rocks to paint or is in need of rocks can contact York through Facebook or by emailing her at email@example.com.
Jackson County Indiana Rocks!
Seymour Rock Finds
Jackson County Painted Rock Hunt
What: Jackson County Indiana Rocks! 1,000 Rock Drop
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Will first meet at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour and then spread out to hide rocks. Those planning to attend should bring some painted rocks to hide.