A grandma and her four-year-old granddaughter are strolling along a trail when the girls bends to pick something up. She squeals and holds out her find. She has found her first painted rock. It’s an amazing work of art, labeled to indicate that it’s part of the Sooke to Sidney Rock Hunt on Facebook (SSRH FB).

As part of SSRH FB, participants paint, label, and seal rocks and then hide them wherever they choose. It can make discovering a new trail or beach extra fun. These rocks have also been hidden outside of hospitals to cheer people up. Some keep the rocks as good luck charms and then paint and hide more rocks to replace the rocks they kept. Others may choose to hang onto a particular rock for a little while and then re-hide it. We have a few rocks in our fairy garden in our front yard and my son has his favourite in a little treasure chest.

You don’t have to be a professional artist to paint and hide a rock. The skill levels vary and people of all ages paint and hide rocks. Some people even sell their work or use it as gifts. The SSRH Facebook group provides product recommendations, tips for sealing rocks and many photos of painted rocks. For example, the type of paint pens or sealants that work best and tips for using them. There are dotting tools that you can purchase to paint mandala rocks and there is even a class offered to learn how to paint these types of rocks.

Over 6700 members belong to the SSRH FB group, so it’s a great way to connect with other people in your community and meet other members. In July 2016, Kristi Nelson started the group. Erin Devine teaches the mandala class and has helped keep the group going. They both do admin work for the group and Susan Nelson is the group moderator. It’s a fun treasure hunt and you learn to always be on the lookout for rocks. It’s neat to see rocks that might be in a certain shape, which can influence the drawing chosen for it. For example, I’ve seen a kitty cat face shaped rock, a hot dog, a chocolate coated candy that has a bite looking chip missing off the rock.

There are a few etiquette rules to follow such as take only one rock per person per hunt (so there are lots of rocks for other to enjoy), and post a picture of your find on the SSRH FB group. Rocks need to be sealed, so the paint doesn’t chip. The rocks that are hidden need to be accessible and can’t be hidden in cemeteries.

Recently, monthly rock challenges were introduced. Each day of the month you paint a new rock that fits the daily theme and then post a picture. There are even prizes. It’s also fun to paint your own rocks and then post pictures to the group to reveal where you hid them. It’s thrilling to see someone post a picture of a rock that you painted and hid. We have even found rocks from other nearby rock hunting groups such as Tacoma Rocks in Washington. We have a Kindness Rocks garden in our neighbourhood too. Our kids were excited when they found rocks at their school that were specially hidden by an artist who said the kids could keep them.

Rock painting and hunting is a great way to feel part of the community and it’s a great activity to introduce your grandkids to this summer. Once you get started, you’ll never look at rocks the same way again. You’ll be visualizing your painting upon each rock. You’ll be collecting buckets of rocks with your grandkids to paint and hide yourselves. Happy rock hunting.

Serena Beck works full-time as a technical writer. She loves to write, travel, and swim at the beach with family and friends.