By Steve Sears
If ever in the area of Bloomingdale or Butler, be on the lookout for lovely painted, colored rocks. They are courtesy of the very artistic “Bloomingdale Butler, NJ Rocks” Facebook group, and although started in 2017, the worth is never greater than in 2020, a year when adversity has struck everyone.
Cristina Earle started the page in 2017, basing it on the original rules and set-up of the “Pompton Lakes Rocks” Facebook page. “At the time, hiding painted rocks was starting to become a nationwide movement. A few people in our town were seeing them hidden in other places and wanted to do the same at home.” In the summer of 2018, Linda Bennett, the since-retired Bloomingdale Library children’s librarian, reached out to Earle, seeking to partner her planned “Reading Rocks” summer reading program with Earle’s group. Earle then reached out to Cindy Keegan, the service unit leader for the Butler Bloomingdale Girl Scouts, to see if some of the members wanted to partner with the program. “She was happy to come on board,” says Earle, “and with this summer program came the decision of the name change to ‘Bloomingdale Butler, NJ Rocks’ as the Girl Scout service unit is for both Bloomingdale and Butler.”
The group currently has 676 members. Anyone is welcome to join the group, whose administrators monitor who joins and what is posted.
The general process is to paint a rock, hide it, and post clues where it is hidden. Someone then finds the rock, posts on the Facebook page where it was found, whether they are keeping the rock or hiding it and, if they do, post clues where it is newly located. All rocks that are painted and hidden nationwide have the specific group’s name on the rock’s back, and the majority are hidden in public areas: outside shops, banks, schools, public buildings, as well as in the local parks.
“Bloomingdale Butler, NJ Rocks” means different things to different members. “For some, like my family,” says Earle, “it is an unexpected smile as we are out walking and happen to see a painted rock. Regardless of where we are, either walking our neighborhood, or traveling somewhere else, when we see a painted rock, we take a picture and share it with our ‘home group’. There have only been two rocks my daughter has kept. She saw the picture, it was one of her very favorite things, so we went out to find the rock. We tend to leave rocks where we find them. Occasionally we have hidden batches of rocks. Our preference is to spot the unexpected painted rock as we are going about our daily life.” For others, painting the rocks is the joy, while many enjoy the hiding and creating clues aspect, eagerly awaiting to see a picture that their rock was found. “The group fulfills different needs for different people, and families.”
The “Bloomingdale Butler, NJ Rocks” Facebook page has indeed been uplifting during these trying times. Earle adds one more particularly important note. “I would ask that anyone who finds a painted rock, whether you take it or leave it, to please post on the Facebook page of the group that you found the rock. There is as much joy in seeing that a rock has been found as there is in the artistic design of the rock, and the hiding of the rock.”
To join, visit the “Bloomingdale Butler, NJ Rocks” Facebook page.