MELFORT — First created in 2017, a rock-finding game created by PLUS Industries remains active throughout the Melfort community to this day, giving locals a hobby that can still be practiced throughout the pandemic.
The game’s rules are simple. People are to find one of many pre-painted rocks hidden throughout the city, take a photo of the rock, write where they found it, and upload the photo to the group “Plus Melfort Rocks” on Facebook.
Afterwards, the individual is asked to re-hide the rock, making it harder or easier for the next person to find.
“We heard about it on the radio when I was coming in to work, I heard CBC talking about Winnipeg rocks,” said Russ Floyd, activities co-ordinator with PLUS Industries. “So we went up to the river, got a bunch of river rocks, washed them, and it works really good for PLUS because it’s an activity for our participants.”
While it was created by PLUS Industries, the hobby encourages participation from anyone who happens to find one.
Each rock is painted, sprayed with a finish, and has a message on the back instructing any person who finds one to upload it to the local group.
Every stone is different with some having fictional characters painted on such as Sulley from Monsters Inc. or Winnie the Pooh, while others have flowers, a camping scene or something one may expect to see in a gallery.
Floyd said after only a couple weeks of being operational the group had a hundred members taking part.
“We were just, holy smokes. Now there’s somewhere around 1,200 people in our group and our rocks have been found in Sweden, and in Norway, and in Spain and in Kentucky,” he said. “They find the rocks and then they go to the Facebook group and post that they found the rock.”
After a rock is posted being in a foreign country, Floyd said he will go to the map and show the participants at PLUS Industries.
“We tell the participants, ‘This is where they found your rock, this is how far away it is,’” Floyd said. “It’s like an educational tool too.”
Within Canada, the rocks have turned up in Regina, Moose Jaw, British Columbia and even Ontario.
Floyd said that while the group did slow down during the beginning of COVID-19, as there were still questions about the transmission rate on handling items, they have since resumed hiding the stones.
“This year because we think this stuff can’t live long on inanimate objects and things that are out there, so we’re starting up again and we’re painting rocks to beat the band,” he said.
“We never anticipated it going like it did outside of Melfort, then outside of Saskatchewan, then outside of Canada, then outside of North America. You get someone posted that they found a rock in Sweden.”