Juniata Valley rocks!
Painting, hiding rocks makes their day, and yours, too
LEWISTOWN — Discovering a painted rock with a bright image or expression can change someone’s day.
The act of painting such brightness on rocks can serve as therapy for those facing difficult times, too.
The craze of rock painting has been going on all over the country. Here in the Juniata Valley is no exception. Groups on social media have been organized in an effort to show off the creations.
Mifflin County Rocks and Juniata County Rocks are just two of those groups.
Juniata County Rocks Administrator Billie Lloyd, of Port Royal, was excited to get involved.
“I read about it going on in other parts of the country and thought it would be fun to do here. Let’s face reality. Juniata County is quiet and peaceful. But to kids and young adults, quiet and peaceful is boring. I thought it would just be nice to brighten someone’s day.”
Robin Snook is the administrator for Mifflin County Rocks and said the project became a therapy of sorts for her teenage daughter struggling with depression.
The 15-year-old girl turned to rock painting to help her through this difficult time.
“We were originally encouraged to rock paint by an art therapist as my daughter had been suffering from depression. They had recommended painting things to encourage others. We placed them in honor of friends and family,” Snook said, and she later learned of another opportunity with the rock paintings.
“A friend of mine posted on Facebook they were hiding and finding them with rewards with a group called Emporium Rocks,” Snook said.
“My friend, Cherie, then explained how we could tag the rocks so we could know if they were found. At that time my child was admitted for the depression, so Cherie started the page for me. She also had a ‘Little Rock’ painting gathering while she was in the area. From there our goal has been kindness, love and support, anything to make someone smile.”
Cherie Miller and her family are originally from Lewistown but moved to Emporium, in February.
“The rock painting began for us this past June when my daughter and I traveled to Columbus, Georgia, to visit family. It was there that we discovered ‘Columbus GA Rocks,’ a giant rock group that now has 24,000 members. During our time in Georgia, my daughter and I were with my sister-in-law in downtown Columbus. We began finding painted rocks all over the downtown area. In just one day, we were completely hooked. We wanted to go right back to the house and start painting, and we did! I joined their Facebook group to understand the directions and to share our rocks pictures.”
Miller and her daughter started Emporium Rocks as soon as they got home from their trip to Georgia. Miller said her friends from Lewistown saw the page and wanted to start one as well. Miller then started Mifflin County Rocks and helped her friends get organized.
When Miller came home to Lewistown to visit in July she held a painting party. Snook took over the page after that event.
“We have been blessed to find many rocks from many pages. We even found one from West Virginia and in Gettysburg. It’s quite amazing to see how they travel and how the page has grown,” Snook said.
Lloyd also paints with friends and has her 9-year-old daughter involved.
“Myself, my best friend, my neighbor and lots of other friends here and there get together to paint. My daughter likes painting too, but she especially loves hiding them. We’ve covered Moyer Park in Port Royal several times now,” Lloyd said. Her group of friends recently placed 20 painted rocks at the park in Thompsontown.
Lloyd said she is always prepared to put a rock some place new.
“I also try to keep a handful of finished ones in my purse or in my car, so if I stop at store or something, I can put a couple out.”
Snook said the variety of work on each rock is inspiring.
“Some are simple and inspirational like an ice cream cone on the back, in which we wrote ‘life is sweet once you beat the heat.’ We also place scriptures as well, to remind people of God’s love. We utilize areas with pain, such as domestic relations, and hospitals, even counseling centers,” Snook said.
Whether it is the face of an animal, a flower, a heart or some words of encouragement, the rocks are meant to bring a bright spot to someone’s day, Snook said.
The best part is knowing the process of painting them is also helpful to those struggling with depression like her daughter.
“She had adverse reactions to medications so she was hospitalized three times this summer. She honored friends she met. She honored people who helped her. She wrote things like ‘You are worthy!’ Just reminding people you are a valuable human,” Snook said