By August R. Dittbenner firstname.lastname@example.org
Painted rocks are popping up all over Conway and it's everyone's job to find them and post a photo on Facebook of the finder holding the rock.
That's the premise of Conway Rocks, a game that has become a Rivertown sensation over the past few weeks.
The game is modeled after similar games going on around the country, and Barbara Bartley brought the idea to Conway.
"It's really big in a lot of places, and in the town I'm from in North Carolina it's really huge and I'm following their posts," Bartley said. "The kids looked so happy to find the rocks and I thought maybe our community could benefit from it."
To play the game, participants search for painted rocks that have been hidden. Once a participant finds a rock, they snap a photo with it and post the photo along with the location where the rock was found on the Conway Rocks Facebook page.
Then the participant takes the rock and hides it somewhere else for another player to find.
There are no prizes, just a lot of fun for participants.
Bartley began painting rocks with her children and grandchildren and started hiding the painted rocks around town.
"The first few dozen we put out, I don't think people knew what was going on yet," she said. "A lot of those, I guess, were sacrifice rocks."
But people quickly caught on and even began making more rocks to hide.
"As we put more out, they started catching on to the game and they started joining in and painting," Bartley said. "We're still painting and putting them out and we have a lot of other help now."
Suzanne and Justin Spradlen have found some of the rocks around town with their 2-year-old daughter, Savanna.
"We let our daughter get [the rock] and let her hide it," Suzanne Spradlin said.
"She put it at the Walmart," Justin Spradlen said. "I showed her where to put it and we were waiting for someone to pick it up, but no one did."
Suzanne Spradlen said that in Ohio, where she is from, people do similar things with objects and even money.
"It could be a dollar bill, a $50 bill, depending on who hides it," she said.
She also said she believes the game is good for families.
"People need to get their kids outside more," she said.
When Conway's interim city administrator Adam Emrick heard about the game he and city employee Bess Harry headed out to look for rocks. They quickly found three near the City Hall, but Emrick says if people walk just about anywhere in Downtown Conway or at Riverfront Park they'll find some.
The rocks have everything imaginable on them from the city's clock tower, to a Chanticleer, smiley faces, the Conway High School logo, anything clean and fun that people can think of. Emrick is thankful to the Bartleys for starting the rock rush.
Emrick learned about the game from city attorney Sam Graves, who had just returned from Washington, D.C., where he was introduced to the game.
"It's pretty cool," Emrick said.
Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy heard about the game Monday, and she couldn't be happier with its introduction to Conway. She learned about it when she saw a family that had painted some rocks hoping to find some and hide them again.
"I was totally in the dark and I think it is totally fun," she said. "You have to tie into your community and put in some effort with that sort of thing. It's a really great, great thing."
She said she's proud of the Conway community for so quickly embracing the fun.
She said people participating in the game get to enjoy some sunshine and anticipation while being artistic and adventurous. She also added that it's good, clean fun.
Alise Bartley, Barbara Bartley's daughter-in-law, has enjoyed getting her kids involved.
"I had never heard of it until Barbara talked about it and started doing it," she said. "I think it's a lot of fun. The kids love it, my husband loves it and Barbara loves it."
She said that her children have been able to spend even more time with their grandmother because of the game and that it has blessed the whole family. She has also seen similar effects from what people post on the Facebook page.
"The whole process of it, even the painting, people have posted that it was like family game night, but family rock painting instead," she said. "The whole process has been enjoyable and it's been another excuse to go outside and discover new places."
She said it is also something that doesn't have to cost anything.
"It doesn't have to be anything crazy or artsy, they just paint whatever," she said. "The kids like finding the rocks, and half the time they don't even know what they are."
She also said that some of the rocks have traveled a lot. Some people on the page are talking about the rocks they found while on vacation and promising to hide them when they get home, in states including Virginia and Florida.
"It can go anywhere," she said. "It's fun to see it travel outside the state."
And her children especially like to see where their rocks wind up.
"The kids like to see their rocks and see who has found them," she said, noting that many of her children's classmates wind up finding the rocks and re-hiding them.
Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236