As time goes on into the new era of technology, more people are figuring out ways to disconnect themselves from their cell phones and enjoy the outdoors.
Nationally, people are finding joy in discovering one-of-a-kind rocks in unexpected places. Lehigh Acres has joined the national trend of painting rocks and hiding them for others to find.
The Lehigh Acres Rocks group was founded in early March by Donna Bower, of Lehigh. The current group of 536 members paints rocks, then hides them in places around the community.
PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN
Some of Lehigh resident Donna Bower’s rocks.
Bower got the idea to start the local group from her sister, who is a member of a group in Bartow. She joined their Facebook group and was inspired to create her own group for the Lehigh community.
"I felt it was a great way to bring our community together and spread a little kindness," she said. "It's also a great way to bring families closer by getting people off the phones and electronics so they can paint, hide and hunt rocks together."
"It's a family affair," Bower said.
The concept of the trend is simple. Paint the rock and seal it, then write, "Join Lehigh Acres Rocks FB" on the back. Decide where you want to hide it, so someone can find the rock and the message.
A lot of people write inspirational messages on the rocks.
"It takes very little money or effort, and it's nice to sit and relax with family and friends and make some rocks," Monica Popaduke, a member of Lehigh Acres Rocks, said. "We talk about the fun adventures that these rocks may go on and fantasize about the people they may interact with."
The painted rocks are almost like a little game for the community. Some people give hints on the Facebook page as to where they hid the rocks and others post pictures of the rocks they found.
"When I found the group through our Pay It Forward (Facebook) page, I was quick to join," Amy Semiklose, a member of the Lehigh Acres Rocks group, said. "In that same day, I found my first rock painted by Ms. Donna."
"My girls and I were so excited," she said. "We ran right home and started painting."
To encourage more people to join, the group started adding prize rocks for reaching member milestones. The prize rocks are painted gold then placed inside bags to be hid. Included in the bag with the prize rock are donations from local businesses.
To celebrate reaching 500 members, the group's last prize rock had $3 to $5 in coins for the recently opened Pelican's SnoBalls & mini golf in Lehigh.
The creatively painted rocks are meant to depict positive uplifting messages to their finders. They have different themes painted on them. Drawings of cartoons, animals, food, sceneries and elevating messages are painted.
There are also some that promote awareness for autism and cancer.
"To me, our Lehigh Acres Rocks group represents a togetherness of like-minded people who just want to bring happiness to someone else's day," Semiklose said. "I personally love to spread joy any way I can. Not only does it spread happiness through our community, but it's also teaching my children and others what community is about."
Typical places people hide the rocks are outside public places such as parks, store plazas, grocery stores, restaurants, bus stops and parks. The rocks are protected with a sealant to protect them from any weather damage.
Usually, when someone finds a rock, they take a picture with it and place it in another location for someone else to find. If they want to keep the rock, they typically paint another one to replace it. This concept promotes the idea of sharing within the community.
"I love putting inspirational and encouraging messages on rocks that bring smiles and hope to people," Bower said. "You will see some members have posted how finding rocks have brightened their day."
"It's good to see so many other members on this page wanting to share the kindness and joy," she said.
To join or for more information, search for the public group "Lehigh Acres Rocks" on Facebook.