kids

Why thousands of kids have spent their school holidays searching for painted rocks.

‘Creating art and spreading happiness.’ That is how the rocks movement began, in a sleepy, nature loving town in New Zealand. But now, it has grown into something much bigger – a worldwide scavenger hunt for little adventurers.

More than 120,000 Aussie kids are taking part in this treasure hunt for painted rocks, and parents are thrilled with this return to old-fashioned outdoor fun. It’s been called the new Pokémon Go, only your child’s eyes aren’t glued to a screen – they’re filled with joy as they race against their friends to be first to a rock; or with concentration, as they add the final touch of colour to their very own creation.

So what exactly is this rock hunt that has captured kids’ imaginations these school holidays? And how can you get your kids involved?

LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo explain this adventurous new trend on This Glorious Mess. Post continues below. 

While you do need a Facebook account to play, the game is still remarkably old-school by nature. There are two ways to take part – you can hunt for rocks or you can create your own for others to find.

Making new rocks is a fabulous outlet for artistic kids. Whack a smock on them, hand them some rocks from your garden and acrylic paints, and let them have at it. They can paint anything they like onto the blank canvas, as long as they add their state’s Facebook page. You then venture out together to find a park or spot in nature to hide the rock, then drop a note on the Facebook page to say you’ve hidden a rock in the area.

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Then comes the fun part – hunting for other people’s rocks! This is a great way to get the whole family involved. Search the page for your suburb or local park’s name and you’ll see hints and instructions for all the rocks hidden around you. You might be given a cryptic clue or just the coordinates, then it’s up to you to stretch your brain with some orienteering. Don’t forget to share your find on the Facebook page and let others know if you’ve chosen to keep it or hide it again.

And trust me – the kids will definitely want to brag about their score. It creates a great online community where the kids can regale each other with stories of their finds and the adventures they have along the way.

The rock hunt is a brilliant replacement for mind-numbing Xbox games. It’s creative, active and social and most importantly – it’s exciting! It really is a fun-for-all-ages activity.

The first time you find a rock nestled at the base of a tree or tucked underneath a slide, your little ones’ unbridled glee will be contagious. It’s the thrill of the hunt, the rush when you spot a hint of red peeking through the lush green foliage. Before you know it, you’ll be lying awake for hours at night, scrolling through your local Rocks Facebook page and nudging your partner about a new rock drop in your area.

The rock hunt has been compared to Geocaching, another modern day orienteering challenge where participants use GPS coordinates to find ‘caches’. With millions of Geocaches hidden in nooks and crannies on every corner of the globe, it really is the world’s largest treasure hunt.

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But the thing these two outdoor activities have in common, is they bring people together to discover incredible locations at home and afar, steeped in beauty and history. Never explored the nature reserve on the other side of town? Who knows what you might find there! Going on a holiday? Rock hunting is the perfect way to explore a new part of the world, and maybe even take home a souvenir.

The best rock drops and Geocaches (in my opinion) are the ones where the hider shares a titbit of information about the area or tell a personal story about why they chose that spot. It just adds another layer to this brilliant school holiday activity, making it as educational as it is fun.

Chances are, you’ll also meet other rock-hunters on your travels. And guess what? There’s a secret camaraderie between participants, so you could make a new friend out of it. If you spot someone else with little kids running wild and peeking under bushes, give them a wink and say hello. Who knows, they might just know a secret spot that is a rock goldmine!

For more stories about family life, listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess  here:

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