A new activity is catching on in Hillsboro that requires no special talents, no expensive equipment, is free, family-friendly and fun.
Known only as “Hillsboro Rocks!” the person responsible for getting it started was Analisa Defiesta. She said the activity involves finding and painting rocks, hiding them, hunting for other rocks, posting on Facebook and then hiding rocks again.
The idea occurred to Defiesta while she was visiting her parents in Santee, Calif., a suburb of San Diego, at the end of the school year.
“We moved to Hillsboro almost two years ago from San Diego, but I grew up in Santee, and still remain friends, and ‘Facebook friends,’ with many there,” she said.
During their visit in California, Defiesta said she noticed her friends posting about “Santee Rocks!”
“It has really taken over the town,” she said. “Santee has a population of about 75,000 and the Santee Rocks Facebook page already has 10,000 members.”
After seeing how many of her friends and community members were excited about this new activity, and how impressive some of the artwork was on the rocks, she said she wanted to bring it to Hillsboro.
“Hillsboro is an amazing community, and even more unique than others I have seen,” she said. “(The town) exemplifies the true meaning of community.”
Defiesta said she has been proud to say Hillsboro residents are some of the most giving and kind people, who are invested in their children.
“I liked the idea of doing an artistic activity with my family, and the excitement of treasure hunting,” she said. “It really develops creativity and encourages exercise by having to hunt for rocks.”
In addition to exercise, Defiesta said she sees the pride and confidence on the faces of her children when they finish painting a rock.
“I’ve seen it bring a lot of happiness to people—not only finding a painted rock, but recognizing one of theirs being found and hidden again for others to find,” she said.
Defiesta said some of her friends might find it amusing, but she didn’t expect the idea to catch on like it has.
“Hillsboro Rocks!” Facebook page didn’t start until the beginning of June, she said, and it is gaining members daily.
As the administrator of the Facebook page, Defiesta said the number of members is 190 and growing.
In any activity, she said, there are rules that need to be followed so everybody can safely enjoy the experience.
“Most importantly, we don’t want this to become a nuisance,” Defiesta said. “It should bring joy to the community and develop more sense of community.”
The rules are simple, Defiesta said. Participants are asked not to take any rocks from businesses or yards.
“We have found some of our rocks right in our own yard, and we had a friend give us a large bag full, too,” she said.
Rocks can be purchased at home improvement stores, Defiesta said, adding that the Lumberyard in Hillsboro sells them, too.
“A great resource in finding free rocks is to inquire on a Facebook site such as, ‘Hillsboro Buy, Sell, Trade,’ to see if anyone is giving them away,” she said.
Anyone wanting to join in is also asked to not put derogatory or inappropriate remarks on the painted rocks because children are looking for them.
“Wording should be uplifting when used,” she said. “Please don’t hide them in grass or anywhere they may be mowed over.”
When hiding rocks, participants should avoid areas that a child may be unable to reach, Defiesta added.
Other locations that should be avoided, are private property, including businesses, unless permission was obtained by the owner(s).
“We want everyone to be creative, but ask that nothing be glued on such as googly eyes,” she said.
“Once there are enough rocks circulating in the community, if someone falls in love with a rock they find, please ask the creator, via Facebook page, if you may keep the rock for awhile until you can part with it.”
The only avenue to see photos and whether someone found another person’s rock is on the “Hillsboro Rocks!” Facebook page.
“I encourage those who don’t have a Facebook page to start one, even if it is just to enjoy this activity,” Defiesta said.
When she started the “Hillsboro Rocks!” Facebook group, Defiesta invited some of her local friends she thought might be interested.
On the back of the rocks the Defiesta family painted, they offered instructions.
“The wording on the other side of the rock was: Post on “Hillsboro Rocks!” Facebook page and rehide,” she said. “If there was enough room on the rock, I also wrote the creator’s name or initials.”
Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to their privacy and allowing themselves or their children to be present on social media, she said.
“This Facebook page is public, meaning that anyone can see the group and request to be a member, but they must be approved by one of their friends already a member or by me (the administrator),” she said.
“Not that I am claiming it is safe, but as a precaution I always make sure I know the person or that they are friends with at least one of the members,” she said. “They also need to be local before approved.”
Defiesta said she allows her children to post what they find, or if someone posts a rock her children personalized, they can acknowledge it was painted by one of them.
“All members are welcome to communicate with each other via the page, she said.
Acrylic paints are the best to use on rocks, Defiesta said. They can be purchased at larger box stores or craft stores like Hobby Lobby.
“The acrylic paints are about one dollar each,” she said. “We bought a set of about 30 colors. We also have a few sets of paint brushes, and by experience have found that the smaller the better for creating more detail.”
Defiesta said they also bought inexpensive paint sponges for texture, wooden skewers to make dots, nail art pens and paint markers.
“Get creative,” she said. “Thin layers work best, and work on several rocks at a time so that some may be drying in the rotation before working with other colors.”
Another hint, Defiesta said, is using newspaper in the painting process.
“We recycle our Hillsboro Free Press by painting on the paper after we have read it,” she said. “We use paint markers to write the instructions on the back. When they are dry, I spray them with a clear sealant that I picked up here in town at True Value.”
The sealant keeps the paint from coming off when it gets wet.
Since beginning a “rock club” of sorts, Defiesta said it’s become a social gathering.
“We have had several painting parties over the past couple of weeks, which are so much fun,” she said. “We set up long tables and put out the paints, brushes, some snacks, some painting music and we go for it.”
“Parkside Homes posted on Facebook that they painted and hid rocks with some of the residents on Thursday, and we surpassed our 200-member mark on the Facebook page,” she said.
Defiesta said, a Canton/Galva resident contacted her on how to get a “Canton/Galva Rocks!” started. “They came to Hillsboro to go rock hunting on Wednesday.”
As for feedback, Defiesta said, “So far, so good. I have received only positive feedback, and a lot of messages thanking me for bringing this fun activity to the community.”
“I greatly appreciate those messages, and I love the way the community has embraced the idea.”