Merced ROCKS brings treasure hunters of all ages together

If you have noticed painted rocks in random places around Merced lately, you aren’t going crazy.  DJ Jones, owner of Aloha Floral, first got the idea after being told about the Facebook group “Oakhurst Rocks.”  He wanted to bring this fun activity to Merced, and in March created the Facebook group “Merced ROCKS.” Think treasure hunting meets Pokemon Go, but without the need to walk around staring at a phone screen.

The concept is simple: paint a rock, place it somewhere around town, take a picture of it, and post a clue about it’s location.  The hunters then follow the clues to find the rock, taking a picture of it so everyone knows it’s been found, and then either keeping the rock or hiding it again for someone else to find.

There are many positives about this group and the activity that members have discovered.  Christine Aston of Merced stated, “I have learned that I’m not much of an artist when it comes to painting but now I would love to learn more. Merced ROCKS has gotten us out of the house almost every night of the week. Instead of gathering around T.V.s, phones, computers etc., we’ve been out either searching for rocks that have been hid or hiding rocks that we’ve painted. I love the people we’ve been meeting in the group and in the community. I could go on and on.”

You are NOT required to be an artist to participate!  Some rocks are painted by adults that have some amazing talent, while some are painted by small children who just love getting as much paint as they can on something. Whether you’ve been painting all your life, or haven’t picked up a paintbrush since your 4th grade art class, you can and will have fun!

“I have to say meeting very talented, positive and caring people from this group has been the best part,” wrote group member Sherry Dain. “It’s a great way to share a piece of our heart through painting a simple rock. My kids and I have always collected rocks from places we’ve visited to have something to remember the good times we had that day. Finding one that someone has taken the time to make extra special is priceless.”

Nancy Mello said, “It’s a fun activity for the whole family to do together as well as friends. We now have a paint night set up and everyone is looking forward to it.”

To help kick things off, DJ Jones recently held a rock painting party and potluck at Aloha Floral.  About 15 people showed up to paint and meet new people. “I loooooved it!” Jones said.  “What a fun thing to do for our community.  The kids and adults are loving this!.”

There are a few guidelines to be aware of to participate.  First, using acrylic paint on rocks is usually the best thing use, but some have used fingernail polish, paint pens, and sharpies.  The back of the rocks should say “Merced ROCKS” and either the Facebook logo or the actual word so people how may not have known why the painted rock they stumbled upon can see how to get more information. Rocks need to be hidden in public areas and visible with naked eye (no digging holes or anything!) and on public property.  The concept is “take a rock, leave a rock,” so if you find one, you should either hide it again for someone else, or go paint another one to hide.

Some of the members of the group have also started an “Atwater Rocks” Facebook page.

Here are some of the rocks and clues that have been hidden (and they have all been found) so you have an idea of just how fun this could be.  Great fun for the whole family!  Look for rocks outside when it’s nice, paint rocks inside when the weather isn’t quite as nice.