This is a feature in the Good News Saskatchewan series. You can see all the stories at cbc.ca/lovesk.
The game is afoot in the small community of B-Say-Tah, Sask. More than 100 people are estimated to be painting, hiding, finding and rehiding colourful rocks as a way to stay connected while isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The idea came from elsewhere. Sara Friesen and her family had recently moved to the small community, located on Echo Lake about 77 kilometres northeast of Regina.
The 15-year-old was living in Melfort, Sask. with her family before moving to Fort Qu'Appelle and then to B-Say-Tah. Sara said it was scary when the pandemic hit, as everything was shutting down and she was moving to a new place.
"I locked myself in my room," she said. "I was very like locked out and hidden from the world."
Sara's mother, Mindy Friesen, said she could tell her daughter was having a difficult time. That's when she thought back to their previous home in Melfort. A community group there had run a game called Melfort Rocks.
"Sarah is a really creative individual and it occurred to me that maybe that would be an outlet for her to start a game," Mindy said. "A reason to do some art and maybe start connecting with people in kind of a safe way."
Sara started small. She painted a few rocks and covered them in a clear coat of nail polish, then hid them around town. Two little girls found the first rocks and Sara was encouraged to continue.
A few months later, the B-Say-Tah Rocks Facebook page is filled with images of smiling people who have found rocks.
"It gave me a sense of connection with everyone and it made me feel comfortable with moving into B-Say-Tah," Sara said. "It made me feel a sense of relief and happiness."
Mindy said the community reaction was great, with other people now painting rocks and hiding them. She said it's a great multigenerational activity.
"I think it offers connection because you can see that other people in your community are having fun doing the same things," Mindy said. "I love having the creative expression being shared throughout the community too. It's like little bits of art."
Mindy said it's also been a great way to introduce her family to the community and help Sara gain confidence in herself and get through the stress of a pandemic.
Sara estimates there are more people hiding rocks than there are people in the Facebook group. She estimates more than 100 people have taken part in the small community of about 150. Sara said it feels amazing to see what she started taking a shape of its own.
Sara hopes to see other communities start up similar projects to help people stay connected while being apart.
"It builds memories," Sara said. "It's something that you'll remember when you get older."