Away from electronics and out into nature

New Burlington Rocks movement a creative outlet for local kids to paint rocks and explore outdoors

Fatima Anum, right, watches as 6-year-old Eshal Ahmed paints a rock to hide at the first Burlington Rocks night at Young School.

If you’re a kid or a parent living in Burlington Township or Burlington City, you’ve most likely found a painted rock hidden around town at least once or twice. Maybe you left it alone, or maybe you picked it up and placed it somewhere else later. You may have been playing a game without even knowing it.

This is all part of a movement called Burlington Rocks. Local parent and Burlington Township resident Kelly Boogaard started the “Burlington Rocks!” Facebook page in mid-September, and it’s already up to 1,900 members.

Boogaard was inspired to start the Facebook page when her three-year-old son, Landon, found a rock at Hamilton Veterans Park and was completely overjoyed.

When Boogaard later took Landon back to the park to find more rocks, she was shocked by how busy the park was.

“There were not only children running around but their parents as well, looking for and hiding rocks,” Boogaard said. “I usually go to a park and see the parents sitting on the bench on their phones while the children play. On this day, not one person had their phone out and I was amazed. That’s when I decided to start a page in Burlington.”

And the rest is history. The movement took off extremely quickly in Burlington and is very popular with both kids and parents.

The process is simple. If you find a rock, you can keep it, leave it where it is or re-hide it. If you decide to keep a rock, it’s encouraged that you paint your own rocks to leave around town as well. When painting rocks, be sure to add the #BurlingtonRocks to the back of the rocks so that whoever finds it can find the Facebook page and join the fun. Participants can also post hints in the Facebook group to help others find the rocks that they hide. The only rule is to keep the quotes and pictures on the rocks kid-friendly.

Some tips posted on the Facebook page include using acrylic paint and smooth rocks, using a sharpie to write the hashtag on the back of the rock and finishing with clear spray paint or varnish.

The goal of Burlington Rocks is to spread creativity and kindness. Members of the Facebook page have posted saying that they were feeling down, and Burlington Rocks helped them to find positivity.

“My favorite was when a member messaged me that she has been having a hard time getting her son to put his iPhone down and since they found Burlington Rocks, he hasn’t touched it,” Boogaard said. “I love that this is getting people away from electronics and television and getting them out and moving.”

Boogaard also added that she thinks the movement teachers kids to share — something Landon has been learning. “We are still working on him hiding them, he wants to keep them all,” Boogaard said.

After discovering the Burlington Rocks Facebook page, B. Bernice Young Elementary School art teacher Vinnie Giannetto decided to bring the movement to Young School. Young School held a Burlington Rocks family painting night on Oct. 20 and is planning to host another night later in the school year.

“What I love most about Burlington Rocks is that it connects art with the community and gets children outside exploring nature,” Giannetto said. “It’s great to see so much art being created by people of all ages throughout the community.”