The Cambrian

Hearst Castle guide given a Kindness Rock by South Carolina students

Students gave Hearst Castle guide Erin Gates this Kindness Rock.
Students gave Hearst Castle guide Erin Gates this Kindness Rock.

Hearst Castle guide Erin Gates posted on Facebook recently that it’s “amazing how good one Kindness Rock can make you feel!”

People often find Kindness Rocks at the shore or in parks, but Gates got hers by mail as a thank you from 48 South Carolina fourth-graders she’d guided through the Castle on Feb. 22 via videoconferencing.

Their Kindness Rock arrived by mail in mid-March, along with a letter from Hendrix Elementary School students in Boiling Springs, South Carolina. “When you’re feeling down, just look for a Kindness Rock, and it will cheer you up,” they wrote.

According to The Kindness Rocks Project’s Facebook page, the project “is inspiring people to be kind and happy. Founder Megan Murphy started randomly placing rocks — painted with inspirational quotes and sayings — on the beaches of Cape Cod and now people from all around the world are doing the same thing.”

Gates also is a presenter for the PORTS program, providing “distance learning” field-trip tours for students who cannot visit the Castle in person.

PORTS is the acronym for the state’s Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students, which uses interactive videoconferencing via Verizon and Microsoft Skype in the Classroom to introduce the Castle and other parks for free to students who might never get to those sites. For details, go to

Now the guide is paying it forward with “The Great Adventure of the Kindness Rock,” Gates said March 20.

So far, the Hendrix rock, the students’ letter and an introductory message “have traveled to every department on the top of the mountain” at Hearst Castle. Next on the list will be Castle offices near the Visitor Center.

“I’m begging everybody who gets the rock to pass it on,” Gates said. “I hope it gets to every park in the San Luis Obispo Coast District, and then makes its way around the state,” because “we all need some positive stuff right now.”