Finding Joy With Delaware Valley Rocks
Spread positive vibes by decorating, hiding, and finding rocks in your neighborhood.
How many activities get kids off devices, reward curiosity, inspire creativity, and foster generosity? What about making family time more fun while building community — without spending a ton? Would you be ready to sign up? Welcome to Delaware Valley Rocks and 8,240 new friends.
Jamie Sottnick started the Delaware Valley Rocks Facebook group in January to connect people through positivity. Inspired by her aunt, who runs a similar group in Martin County, Florida, Sottnick began painting rocks and hiding them in and around her neighborhood, then posting photos as hints about where she hid them.
Clearly, she hit a chord. The group grew fast: within two weeks, there were hundreds of members, and now, just two months later, there’s over 8,240.
Every day in the group, there are appreciative posts from someone who happened upon a moment of joy in an otherwise tough day. There are posts of gratitude from parents after they and their kids sat around the table painted rocks and actually talked, lots of images of painted rocks and hints where to find them, and most of all, the happy faces of kids who found their first rock.
There are a handful of Pinterest-perfect photos of beautifully painted mini-masterpieces and plenty of moms who confess that this is their new favorite way to relax. But don’t be intimidated — this is for everyone! There’s also tons of messy, fun, and quirky colored stones by everyone from toddlers to grandparents.
A pinned post at the top of the group lays out the general guidelines: “We would love for you to post pictures of your painted rocks before you hide them, or when you find them…If you find a painted rock from our group, you can either keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find. If you decide to keep a rock, you are encouraged to hide a new rock somewhere in its place (but this is optional!).”
“I want it to be all positive, to make people smile and be happy,” Sottnick said. She strives for the Facebook group to be a place where parents can be comfortable allowing their kids to go and post their newly painted gems or recent finds. It takes time and effort to make sure her community stays that way, so Sottnick and a small cadre of helpers monitor the group to delete any inappropriate comments or posts.
Patricia Crossan introduced the project to her daughters, Ríona and Sheála Crossan, and their Girl Scout troop. “It’s an exchange of love,” she said, “one kid making a rock for another.” A former teacher, she noted that kids are learning about making art, having patience, following instructions and accepting creativity at whatever level. “The girls get a buzz from finding a rock, but they also are excited to check the site to see who has found theirs.”
Delaware Valley Rocks also presents a unique opportunity for life lessons. Angela Urso described one this way: “My youngest (age 5) was upset he hadn’t found a rock yet. So we decided to put more of our (rocks) out there last week. Later that day he was walking and looked down and found his first rock…he was beyond excited…just a life lesson. You get what you put out there.”
If the explosive growth of the group means anything, it’s that we could use a little more joy. If you’re ready to join in, here’s how to get started:
Ask to join Delaware Valley Rocks.
Search for paintable rocks (or buy a small bag at a craft store like A.C. Moore for $3.99 for a small bag or a huge bag of polished river stones at Home Depot for $13.99.)
Use paint or paint markers (acrylics work best) to decorate the rocks.
Seal with a sealant like Rust-oleum Ultra Cover Clear Gloss (Sottnick’s preferred) or Mod Podge to protect the design.
Hide them in plain sight for others to find, take a photo, and post it to the Delaware Valley Rocks.
Check Delaware Valley Rocks to see if anyone has posted finding your rock. Seeing who found it is part of the fun.
Keep Looking for painted rocks wherever you are. They can be found just about anywhere, at any time. If you find one, don’t forget to post it. If you keep it, make one to hide.
Photograph by Patricia Crossan.