Sure there’s a time and place for educational apps for kids, but what we really want is for our kids to explore the great outdoors in Singapore. So we’re totally on board with ROCK HUNTING with the SG Rocks Facebook Group. The mission is cleverly simple: roam green spaces, find rocks, paint them with rockin’ designs, then hide them back in nature for other kids to ‘hunt’ down. It’s a bit like pen pal letters for modern-day kids (without having to divulge your address). Super-creative, active and exciting! Thank goodness for something we can all have fun with that doesn’t resort to screen time: Pokémon Go, we’re looking at you.
It’s time for a visit to our favourite art and craft stores in Singapore to stock up on acrylic and paintbrushes. Let’s do this! We had a quick chat with cool mum and co-founder of SG Rocks, Susanna Lo, for the lowdown on this creative kid-pastime.
What is rock-hunting?
We first encountered rock-hunting on a family holiday to Wanganui, New Zealand. Most kids in NZ don’t have access to mobile phones, so can’t hunt Pokémon. Instead, one astute parent suggested kids head to the park, find stones, paint them, and then hide them for other kids to find. Thus rock-hunting became a thing!
Tell us a bit about you and your family
We moved to Singapore from the UK nine years ago. I started my career in corporate law, but after having children found it difficult to get back into full time work – sadly an all too familiar story. I eventually found a great opportunity to work for Singapore’s leading gender advocacy group, which is busy and incredibly fulfilling. My son is seven and my daughter is five and they LOVE rock-hunting! My son especially became hooked in New Zealand and insisted we bring a 2kg bag of stones back to Singapore. My daughter is a budding artist, so it wasn’t hard to sell her on the whole idea…
When and why did you start SG Rocks?
Rock-hunting seeped into our souls in NZ – so we just had to bring the awesome concept home – and SG Rocks was born! I started the group on 1 May 2017 with my good friend and co-admin Lynn Loke. We shared our mission on a few Facebook groups and the response was overwhelming. We spent most of the Labour Day weekend approving new members (over 300 in just three days). I think it’s been popular over the world (groups have popped up all over New Zealand and the US) because it’s a fabulous way to get the kids out into nature, and because rock painting is very therapeutic. Fun for parents and kids!
What are the rules of SG Rocks?
Our mantra is “Paint! Hide! Post!” We ask painters to post pictures or clues of hiding places, and to hashtag their rocks with their ‘rock names’ (e.g. #Rockzanne, #ATeamRocks or #Rockbandofheroes). Hunters show off their spoils on the SG Rocks Facebook Group and painters can see that their rocks went to good homes. We have very few rules except that pebbles can’t be taken from private gardens or condos (so we don’t get shut down). Update: unfortunately, Jacob Ballas Children’ Gardens is now off bounds.
Do you organise regular meetups for members?
Lynn had the bright idea to hold regular rock-hunting extravaganzas, where members hide stones in one place so kids have more rocks to find. Our first event was on Vesak Day at the Botanic Gardens. We just asked parents to bring their rocks and their mini-rock-hunters to the garden around 10am in the morning and off they went. It was quite surreal to walk past parents explaining rock-hunting to their kids: “It’s like a bear hunt, except we’re hunting for rocks!” Everyone had a great time. We have regular meet-ups, so check our SG Rocks Facebook page for all the details.
What is your vision for SG Rocks?
Amazingly, we now have over 1800 members and we’re still growing. Our hope is that more and more people will join so kids all over Singapore will be painting, hiding and hunting. When we first started, my kids and I were the only rock-planters in Singapore. Although it was a good life lesson for them to be altruistic, leaving their beautifully painted stones behind for the pleasure of other children, they were ecstatic when others joined in so they had a chance to hunt too. My own personal dream is that one day, I won’t be able to walk out of the house without seeing quirky, painted rocks hidden everywhere. I’d love my little adventurers to be out and about rock-hunting with neighbourhood kids after school until dinner time!
Photography: SG Rocks
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