Painted rocks hidden in Exeter bring community togetherBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent July 16. 2017 11:26PM
Snooping around Exeter these days has been fun for families on the hunt for painted rocks hidden around town.
The community rock scavenger hunt that began in May has taken off in recent weeks and is bringing people together in exactly the way Beth Dupell and Erin Toole hoped it would.
“Exeter is a great family town and this is a great family concept,” said Dupell, a Stratham resident and owner of ecm design in downtown Exeter.
Dupell and Toole teamed up to launch the Exeter hunt. Toole, who also lives in Stratham, introduced the idea after seeing a similar hunt on a trip to South Carolina.
“I’m shocked that it took off so quickly and was as well-received as it has been. I think it would be fun to work with Exeter introducing more activities like this to get people outside and draw the community together,” Toole said.
Participating in the game is easy. Anyone can paint a rock and hide it for someone else to find and then hide again in a new location.
Dupell said some people have chosen to keep their first rock and have found new hiding spots for the others.
“If they keep one we ask them to add a rock back into the game,” she said.
Dupell and Toole have spread the news of the game via social media, including Instagram and Facebook. Participants are asked to write #VisitExeterNHRocks on the back of the rocks they paint and hide, and many have posted photos on the social media sites.
Dupell said the photos have made the game more fun and inspired others to participate, including some local artists.
Information on the game can also be found at www.visitexeternh.com.
“It is addictive. It’s fun and easy. Everybody can participate and there’s no big commitment,” Dupell said.
“It’s not just kids painting rocks. It’s also adults painting rocks,” she said.
The game does come with some rules. Participants are advised not to take rocks from parks where they’re not allowed to be removed. They’re also asked to use acrylic paint and a sealer to prevent the paint from washing off and becoming an environmental problem.
Dupell said rocks also shouldn’t be placed in the grass where they could be struck by a lawn mower.
Brentwood resident Hallie Estle and her daughter, Madelyn, 6, are among the many who have joined in the fun. Madelyn was excited when she found a rock painted like a frog along the Squamscott River while visiting Swasey Parkway this week.
“It’s a great community builder and gets kids involved in something. We walked all over town looking for rocks and trying to find hiding places for her rocks. It was a reason to get out,” said Estle, a fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Street School in Exeter.
Nicole Mazur and her daughter, Charlotte Pitcher, 6, also participated together. Mazur said she thought it would be a fun for them.
“She loved playing ’hide and seek’ with our rocks and the rocks we found. We walked downtown for almost two hours,” Mazur said.