State News

Katie Dodge rocks Onslow County with hidden surprises

Posted 12:01 a.m. Saturday

— Katie Dodge was inspired by the idea to paint rocks and hide them all over Onslow County after scrolling through her Facebook news feed one night and noticing a friend in California posted a decorated rock she had found.

"I thought it would be great to bring something like that, here," Dodge, a mother of three, explained. She's been here with her husband since 2003.

And though she can't take credit for the general idea, Dodge certainly could pat herself on the back for getting the ball (or rock) moving in Onslow County.

With the goal of "spreading joy, kindness, and a sense of community through creativity and was inspired by the Santee Rocks Facebook Group," the newly up and running Facebook group appropriately titled, Onslow Rocks already has about 200 followers. The idea is straight forward is really simple: decorate rocks with paint, chalk, or markers and then hide them in various locations to brighten someone's day. Find one, two, or even three, take a picture and post.

Don't forget to create some of your own rocks to hide. Should you decide to do so, on the back, write in permanent pen or paint, "Take picture and post on Facebook in 'Onslow Rocks' group. Rehide." But, certainly, if you do find a painted rock that you can't seem to part with, keep it. There's one catch; you must replace it with one of your own creations.

"There have been seven rocks found so far," Dodge said. "I'm not sure how many are out floating around — maybe about 50? But, I know my kids and I have hidden about 20 on our own. When I started, which was a week ago, my theory behind it was to build a sense of community and bring people together. To do something innocent and fun. It seems like especially with social media and all today, our lived are filled with negativity."

Dodge said she also thinks the fun isn't entirely limited to just kids, though hers certainly do wake up every morning excited to see if any of their rocks have been found and posted on the Onslow Rocks Facebook site. "Adults now have a purpose to create something, too."

Taking the movement a bit further, the Richlands Public Library will also be hosting a Friendship Rock Garden, where, you guessed it, they'll join with Dodge to create more inspiring rocky creations for the community.

A rockin' good time

Katie Lawson, the branch manager/librarian at the Richlands Public Library described in nutshell, this year's summer reading theme is to build a better world and part of that idea was to actually build a rock garden. It was by happenstance that Lawson discovered what Dodge was doing. And joining forces just made sense.

"There will be rocks and paint and markers for people to decorate with," Lawson described of the event which will start June 22 at 6:30 p.m.

"They can either leave them in the friendship garden or hide them around the community. It will be set up all summer. The rocks will have Onslow Rocks Facebook page on them so they can play along," she said.

So, what are the rules to participate?

First, do not hide rocks in schools for children to find. Second, do not decorate rocks with glue-on accessories. Think about the wildlife rocks share their space with. Third, do be sensitive to the environment and do not remove rocks from or hunt in protected habitats, and please follow all rules of the parks and trails you visit.

Also, don't hide the rocks in hazardous locations and avoid hiding in large chain stores, and be respectful of small businesses and private property. Dodge shared, while she wouldn't place a rock inside Walmart, she may place one outside on the bench where an employee or passer-by waiting for a ride or needing a rest may find it and smile. The library, a public park, or by the docks down town all make for great hiding spots.

Speaking of smiling, the sixth rule, keep all your painting fun. These rocks aren't for drama, political opinions, foul language, or business advertisements. Dodge warns, those who violate these standards will be deleted from the Onslow Rocks page.

"We want to spread happiness in our community and in no way wish to be a nuisance or distraction," Dodge added. She'll be out soon hiding 10 more with her three children. "And that also means stealing rocks from private property or landscaping isn't allowed. You can purchase flat and smooth rocks from Michaels or simply go to the beach and gather a bunch. It's a fun game meant to be fun for all ages and abilities."

To keep your rock vibrant until it's found, Dodge recommends also using a sealer.

Recently, one rock was picked up all the way in New Bern. And that's the beauty of the "game". You can take your rock and hide it in another town or even state. It's not singular to Jacksonville, Richlands, Hubert, Swansboro or, heck, even North Carolina.

As Dodge said, it's important to remember, "kindness has no boundaries!"

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