Every Friday, Brian Watters heads to a park in Greater Victoria and proceeds to hide treasure – cash hidden inside rocks.
It’s a weekly routine for Watters that began during the pandemic when a good friend was in need of a pick-me-up.
“It came about last year, last fall, with a buddy that was feeling a little depressed, you know, the COVID blues,” said Watters.
That friend was J.D. Twa.
“I’ve always worked nights and I got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” said Twa, a bartender who’s suffered financially due to the pandemic.
“Once this game came out, I wanted to find more rocks than anybody. It’s not necessarily about the money, it’s about meeting new people, getting outside. Definitely a fun game. Brian Watters is an amazing guy.”
After seeing J.D.’s joy in finding the cash-filled rock, Watters figured he could open up the game to anyone in the Greater Victoria looking for a new adventure.
“A lot of people are stuck at home in their condo or their house watching TV, so it’s just a great excuse to kind of get out there and see the city that we live in,” said Watters.
The group they created is called Flex It Friday.
In just a few months, the group has grown to nearly 3,000 members on Facebook. It’s become so popular that local sponsors have jumped on board, so much so that Watters no longer has to fund the operation himself.
“I usually post around three o’clock on Friday, get that code, there’s a link to the website, plug it in, then there’s a picture there with a nice big sponsor page with it for a local business,” said Watters.
The members who make up the Flex it Friday group refer to themselves as ‘Stonehounds’ and are encouraged to howl when searching for the treasure rock. It’s become their unique way of communicating while keeping a safe physical distance.
Two weeks ago, Anouk Dao let out a big howl as she found a rock with two hundred and fifty dollars inside on a trail near Elk Lake.
“I could not believe it,” said the 16-year-old International student. “I think it’s a good way to kind of explore Victoria and I am gonna do it again.”
Only the lucky few ever find any cash, but many have expressed their gratitude for a COVID-safe way to stay active, explore the island and connect with others from afar.
“That’s what really gave me the motivation to keep going with it,” said Watters.
Watters says with the group’s growing numbers, the cash prizes will likely get bigger.
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