Amethyst Place’s camping trip reduces pandemic-induced isolation


Amethyst Place works with local women and children to achieve recovery, reunification, and resilience. They provide family-centered care that enables these families to overcome the interconnected cycles of poverty, trauma, and substance use. This care includes safe housing and basic needs; educational and vocational supports; recovery, wellness, and financial coaching; and therapy and care management. Amethyst Place recognizes that individual healing and recovery are deeply personal and because of this, they do not apply time constraints or deadlines on access to their services.

Women who access Amethyst Place’s services often go on to earn her GED, begin college, and/or start a new career path, while her children accumulate positive childhood experiences to help outweigh the damage of prior trauma. This transformational work takes time, which is why no maximum length of stay is imposed. Program alumni remain tightly connected to the community and resources after moving off campus. Since 2000, Amethyst Place has empowered almost 350 families and 670 children. (Source: Amethyst Place)

Healing from trauma and recovering from addiction works best when there is a supportive community in place. As the COVID-19 pandemic moved into the Kansas City region, stay-at-home mandates affected the ability of organizations like Amethyst Place to offer those in-person support meetings that reinforce the hard work of healing and recovery.

I spoke with Erin Lynn, financial empowerment coach with Amethyst Place, about a recent camping trip they organized as a way to mitigate the isolation brought on by the pandemic, and to reconnect families with their support system.

Natasha: Please tell our readers a little about this camping trip? What prompted it?

Erin: The AP Camping trip was a fun way for Amethyst to rejuvenate the community during the social distance era of COVID-19. When COVID-19 hit our community like so many others a lot of daily activities halted or shifted to Zoom. And while I am forever grateful to the creators of Zoom, it was not the same. It hindered that interpersonal communication, that human connection, and honestly made it hard to share those emotional moments together. It is so vital during early recovery from substance use and healing from trauma to make those personal, trusting, and loving connections. We saw our moms holding on strong and still fighting the good fight through the pandemic, but we saw the shared laughter was gone. The feeling of being supported and having a community of like-minded, strong-willed women disappeared as we all retreated to our homes and to virtual meetings. 

So, we at AP got creative. We couldn’t gather indoors, so outdoors we went!

I should mention that Amethyst Place suggests that our moms try to avoid work on weekends or during scheduled classes. This devoted time helps families develop a routine and strengthen their relationships. We deliberately plan activities around work and school.

The campout was designed to bring us back together while still abiding by local, COVID-19 regulations. We partnered with Timberridge Activity Center to provide our moms and their children with a weekend of roughing it together. We all carpooled to the campsite Friday afternoon. 

We started the day sharing breakfast together, spent the afternoon swimming or hanging out, then ended the day with a recovery meeting by the fire. We also brought games and outdoor activities to keep the children entertained. The whole trip came to an end on Sunday afternoon when every mom came together to find missing shoes, deflate air mattresses, and load up cars and kids. We all came home tired and dirty but full. Full of laughs, love, and support. 

Natasha: Why did you decide on camping as a solution?

Erin: We were looking for ways to get our moms reconnected with one another. There are two big secrets to maintain recovery over time:

  1. Be part of a strong supportive network. 
  2. Embrace personal buy-in. 

On those days during recovery where it is hard to maintain sobriety, our moms have a team reminding them that using isn’t the solution. Our moms had taken a hard hit with the stay-indoors mandates, and it was our job as their team to remind them why they are here. 

Natasha: What has been the community reaction? What outcomes have you seen?

Erin: I witnessed more motivation and a recommitment to recovery. We saw moms come back and find a sponsor. We saw new friendships. We saw alumni moms who were struggling get reconnected. We saw women step up and start doing service work both inside of the AP community and outside. I also saw those that over-plan relax and breathe, and those that naturally take a backset begin to take on leadership roles.

Natasha: What did you learn from this process? Were there any surprises that you had not expected? 

Erin: I learned to bring tons of bug spray on a wilderness trip. I learned that getting away and taking a step back to allow fun is necessary. I learned that these moms are just looking for a place where they can be moms and not be judged on their techniques. 

I was surprised to see just how many moms were willing to have this experience. A lot of our moms do not care for bugs, sleeping outside, and no electricity, but they showed up and tried. Some loved it, some figured out quickly that camping is not for them and that is ok. 

Natasha: Based on the community reaction, do you think this will become an annual activity?

Erin: Oooo, I hope so. That is the goal for sure.