'Rocking out' in LeFlore County

Photo submitted  by Amber GonzalezPhoto submitted  by Amber GonzalezPhoto submitted by Becky Adams
Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

“At the heart of it, it’s just to have a fun activity, share art with people and just to randomly make someone smile by finding your rock,” said Becky Adams, one of the leaders of the new social media group “918 Rocks Poteau!” on Facebook where area residents paint, hide and re-locate decorated rocks throughout Poteau and the surrounding area.

The Poteau group, which started June 24, already had more than 600 members as of Monday afternoon. Those members have generated nearly 200 active posts to share photographs and clues to rocks they have hidden or found throughout Poteau.

The “918 Rocks!” movement started in Tulsa where it saw major success when started by Kimberly Politte. The numbers, “918,” are due to the 918 area code.

Politte started the group after inspiration from her blind 8-year-old son Hunter. He had a rare type of eye cancer, the Tulsa World reports, and his eyes were removed as treatment. The idea spawned on a visit to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for a check-up when Politte saw painted rocks on the hospital ground as part of the group 901 Rocks.

“It brought them a lot of joy while there, and they wanted to bring it back to the Tulsa area,” Adams said.

Thus the “918 Rocks!” group began. Participants paint and hide rocks at various places throughout 918 area code communities. Adams said they created the Poteau group to better filter posts for LeFlore County only.

“I just thought, ‘We should do this in Poteau,'" Adams said. “Katie [Hopper] and I got together and painted a few rocks, and kind of got the ball rolling from there.”

Hopper is an art teacher at Poteau High School. She also owns Artie’s, an art studio located in downtown Poteau. If enough interest in garnered, Hopper plans to host a rock painting party.

Rock designs vary widely, all up to the rock painter. Many rocks also have been hidden in areas specific to their design — an envelope spotted at a United States Postal Office box, an American flag by a flag pole, lady bugs in flower beds or even a baseball or football at one of the area sports complexes. A great many other rocks may be abstract designs, quotes or some other form of art, such as cartoon characters or logos.

“Personally we’ve had so much fun painting them,” Adams said. “We’ve gone out and searched for rocks, and we get just as much fun out of creating and hiding them.”

Adams is a physical therapist at Poteau Schools and works at In-Sync Pediatric Therapy in Van Buren, Ark. She also works part-time for Discovery Pediatric Therapy in Poteau. She said is it a good, clean way for teenagers and youth to have fun. Her 15-year-old daughter Brooklynn brought rocks over when she babysits to paint for the group. Adams other daughter, 12-year-old Brenna, also partakes in the rock painting and hiding.

“It’s a great family activity but also, you know, I kind of think it is the Pokemon Go of 2016. It gets people active, and is also something teenagers can get out and do by themselves,” she said.

Participants should be respectful of business owners and private property, she said. Ask before hiding a rock in these areas, and be wary of hiding at businesses that sell merchandise.

On the back of the rocks it is encouraged to paint the group’s name — “918 Poteau Rocks!” — so those who find the rock can go on Facebook and discover what it is about. Rocks also should be painted with a clear coat or varnish to keep the design in place.

Once a rock is found or hidden, a picture can be posted to the Facebook group letting others know it was found or offering clues to a rock’s location.