Spreading joy… one rock at a time

Group hopes to bring happiness through positive painted rocks

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Elin Culbertson holds two rocks she found while exploring in Escanaba as part of the Rock Delta County frenzy.

ESCANABA — The founding of a recent Facebook group, Rock Delta County, has spurred a rock hunting frenzy locally. Residents and visitors have been finding and re-hiding decorated rocks that have been painted with positive messages and other designs throughout the summer.

According to the founder of Rock Delta County, Paul Culbertson, the idea stemmed from a similar rock finding group in North Carolina.

He then presented the idea to the church he pastors, Well Spring Community Church in Escanaba, where it received a positive response. The church held a rock painting party to get the game started, with over 70 people attending to decorate the first couple hundred rocks to be hid around town. From there, Culbertson said it has “grown and blossomed” in the community.

“I was hoping it would take off, but I wasn’t expecting it to go as far as it has,”said Culbertson.

Participants that take part in the rock hunting phenomenon paint a rock with a design of their choosing, explained Culbertson, ranging from paint splatters all the way to intricate designs such as fawns, lighthouses, flowers, and more.

Rockers are then encouraged to spray clear coat on the rocks so they are less likely to fade.

From there, people can hide the decorated rocks in a location of their choice, as long as it is not inside of a business, schools, government buildings, or restaurants.

Culbertson said the main goal of Rock Delta County is to keep the messages and creations as positive as possible because finding the rock(s) is meant to brighten a person’s day.

“Kindness is free, give it away,” said Culbertson. “The overall point is for everyone to have fun while spreading kindness.”

Once a rock is found, people are encouraged to post their find on the Rock Delta County Facebook page, claiming that they have found it, and re-hidden. People can also label on the back of the rocks “F.Book Rock Delta County. Post pic, re-hide” on the backside of the rock so whoever finds it, knows what to do.

Culbertson said the group has expanded rapidly and rocks have been found as close as Ludington Park in Escanaba and as far as North Dakota. Currently, Rock Delta County has 3,578 members on its Facebook page. In a couple of weeks, a wedding will be held at the Municipal Dock in Escanaba, said Culbertson, and by request of the page, rocks will be hidden throughout the ceremony for wedding attendees to find. In addition, kids are using the rock hunting/painting for birthday parties, added Culbertson.

A lot of people are wondering what will happen to the group and the rocks once the snow flies, and Culbertson said something special may be in the works to help preserve the rocks that are still hidden.

“We’re working on something creative to do over the winter,” said Culbertson.

Overall, Culbertson said he thinks the message of spreading kindness, caring, and bringing smiles to people of all ages is why Rock Delta County has taken off like it has, adding it also brings the community together.

“We’re so excited everyone is involved,” said Culbertson. “It’s awesome to see our community come together like this.”