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New Parks & Rec program leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of summer fun

Kelsee Beaudin of Plymouth Parks and Recreation places one of the more than 60 colorful stones painted by children from the department's Afterschool Program to help kick off this year's Rock On Plymouth campaign. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 27, 2018
PLYMOUTH – Those looking for some fun while shopping, strolling or recreating in Plymouth now have a new summer challenge — seeking out painted rocks that might make people smile, advertise local organizations, or actually even be a gift certificate or a discount coupon for area businesses.

Rock On Plymouth began last September, when Kelsee Beaudin of Plymouth Parks and Recreation spied an article in a paper about other towns who had similar 'rock' projects that drew people out into their community.

"When I saw that, and Exeter was one of the towns, I decided I wanted to do that, too, and what better way to start than through the After School Program?" said Beaudin.

Children in the afterschool program kicked things off in the fall of 2017 by painting a number of smooth rocks and placing them visibly around town. Beaudin then set up a Facebook and Instagram page on the Internet where people could keep her group informed of any rocks they found.

Starting up again this spring, the Rock On Plymouth initiative has been met with a lot of enthusiasm. Beaudin said they are discovering residents and visitors alike who are now enjoying walks through the town to search for the rocks and those lucky enough to find one first have also reaped some unexpected benefits. Some rocks contain a message for a 10-percent discount on ceramic craft projects at Kil'n Time on Main Street. Others may offer gift certificates to Peppercorn Natural Foods, free pizza at Downtown Pizza and even free ice cream cones from M&M Scoops.

The "coupon rocks" have to be presented to the businesses to become valid, but others are just scattered about town for fun and people are encouraged to take a photo of themselves with the rock they find and post it on the "Rock On Plymouth" Facebook or Instragram site. In addition to that, people are also challenged to keep the fun going.

"When people find a rock they have a choice; they can leave it or move it somewhere else for people to find. If they really like a particular rock, they can also take it home, but we then challenge them to paint a rock of their own to set out somewhere in the town," Beaudin said.

One visitor from Saco, Maine recently found a rock with a Smiley Face in Plymouth and posted a photo of it online saying, "Spread the smile" as he moved it to a new location in Maine.

"This all is just meant to spread cheer and make the community come out and get some exercise as they walk around looking for rocks," she said.

For those who'd like to paint some rocks of their own, there are a few rules and suggestions, though. Each rock should be painted with acrylic paint then sprayed with a sealant, available at Walmart and local craft shops. On the back of each rock, #RockOnPlymouth should be painted so those who find them know where to send a photo, along with the location of each rock they discover. Families, nonprofits, civic groups, businesses and even visitors are asked to join in on the fun, too, as everyone is encouraged to get out for a walk to see what rocks they might find.

"The only thing we've been asked to do is place the rocks in highly visible areas so no one gets hurt trying to get one. Also, the rocks should be picked up before winter and set aside for the next year so they don't get in the way of snow cleanup," Beaudin said.

While encouraging everyone to not only find the painted rocks but place some of their own around town, too, Beaudin actually became an inspiration to us here at Salmon Press. This summer people may discover a "Record Enterprise" rock downtown, on the Plymouth State University campus, or at any of a number of recreational sites in the town. Unfortunately the newspaper industry doesn't have free ice cream or pizza to offer but we can offer something else. When people discover one of our hand-painted rocks, they can take a "selfie" with the rock then, after registering it with #RockOnPlymouth, send that same photo to drhodes@salmonpress.news where we will gladly give you a little notoriety in the local newspaper. Rock on Plymouth and we look forward to your photos!

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Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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