Hundreds of painted rocks are hidden around the parks, downtowns, and even parking lots across the Black Hills, just waiting to be found! These rocks were placed by Kindness Rocks groups, a grassroot organization that has sprung up in towns around the Black Hills like Custer, Rapid City, Sturgis, and Spearfish. Some Kindness Rocks painters have hidden hundreds of rocks, for a simple reason: to spread joy!
“If one painted rock brings a smile to someone’s face when it is found then it is worth it,” said Louise Bauernfeind, the founder of the Spearfish Rocks group. She heard about the Rapid City Rocks group and decided to start her own group in Spearfish.
Kindness Rocks are rocks that people have painted with fun designs and hidden around the community. The groups hope that it will bring joy to their communities.
“I got involved because I was trying to find ideas on ways to get the people I support out and about and involved in the community,” explained Louise. “My grandkids enjoy this activity and also the people I support at the Northern Hills Training Center enjoy it.” Louise works at the Northern Hills Training Center in Spearfish, a supported living community for individuals with developmental disabilities.
The Spearfish Rocks Facebook group posts pictures of their finished painted rocks. If a group member finds a rock, they post a photo of it and where it was found. The helpful group gives compliments and supportive words out left and right!
Photo courtesy of Spearfish Rocks
Photo courtesy of Rapid City Rocks
Photo courtesy of Rapid City Rocks
Debbie Malott started the Rapid City Rocks Facebook page, where rock painters share tips and photos of the masterpieces they create. All rocks have the name of the Facebook group painted on the back, and finders are encouraged to post a photo of themselves and the rock to the group.
Debbie has hidden hundreds of rocks but has only found a few. She believes the odds are in her favor now that it is taking off in the city. The first time she heard about Kindness Rocks was on Facebook post from a friend in Washington. She loved the idea and started her own Facebook group for it in Rapid City. Only a year later, the group is 800 strong and grows everyday.
“It is definitely relaxing for me but more than anything it’s a positive activity. It gets people outside, gives a sense of community, families are doing it together, and it just makes people happy,” explained Debbie. “My grandson Crosby does it with me. We paint and sometimes hide them together. He finds rocks with his mom and says ‘Grandma would like this rock. It’s a good one.’”
Everyone, of any ability, can get involved in this fun and wholesome community craft.
“You don’t have to be an artist to do this. Just paint a rock pink and write joy on it. The finder will be thrilled! Write Rapid City Rocks on the back and hide that rock. There is a pinned post at the top of the Facebook page to tell you everything you need to get started,” said Debbie. “Always be on the lookout…we plant everywhere. Just hop on Rapid City Rocks on Facebook and join in the fun!”
These groups have branched off of the original Kindness Rock Project based in Cape Cod. The project has exploded in popularity across America, and is even gaining some traction overseas.
By Kelsey Sinclair
Rock Painting Tips
Find rocks with flat faces that are not covered in impurities or dirt. Using water and a little dish detergent, scrub and rinse them to remove dirt. To brighten paint colors, a coat or two of primer! Acrylic paint works well for the rocks, but paint pens can be utilized for detailing. Extend the lifetime of the paint job by applying a spray or brush-on sealer. This helps protect the rock from the weather and other wear-and-tear.
If you aren’t an artist, paint simple designs and patterns. Other rock paintings include rainbows, inspirational messages, cartoon characters, lady bugs, fruit, and more. The only limit is your imagination!