Oasis for the Soul: Wellness, peace abide at Amethyst Retreat Center – The Burg News

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Greater Harrisburg’s Community Magazine
Amethyst is believed by many to be a gemstone with properties of transformation—transmuting dark energies into lighter energies.
Nestled in the protective hills of Duncannon, Amethyst Retreat Center carries the essence of its namesake gemstone’s traits in its mission to awaken human potential.
The organization breathes life into its mission through events and programming centered around an evolving culture of wellness. Connecting people with nature, an inclusive mindset, and a focus on cultivating a diverse natural environment are paramount.
Amethyst was incorporated in 1983, but the property was purchased long before then, in 1947, explained Karen Kovacs, board president and Amethyst trustee.
“The vision was for this to be a place where people could come and learn about anything that interests them—an oasis for the soul,” she said.
Today, Amethyst operates as a nonprofit, with a volunteer board and community council. Its activities and initiatives are driven by the organization’s mission and participants’ interests.
 This spirit of openness and inclusivity appealed to Zoe Miner, an Amethyst trustee.
Through the board and the council and even the volunteers, we have such an open and collaborative working environment,” she said. “We really listen to each other and to the public about what activities and events they would like to see.”
 Amethyst operates mostly on a donation basis. Some programs, like special event weekends, camps and retreats have a registration fee, but the organization strives to keep its programs and property accessible to all who are interested.
“We have had the opportunity to have some of our programs supported through grants,” Miner said. “But like all nonprofits, we do keep looking for ways to explore more sustainable funding.”
Spiritual Journey
Amethyst offers a variety of programs for all ages, such as a summer solstice celebration that includes camping, music and workshops.
“We try to offer different, fun events throughout our season,” Miner said.
In June and July, Amethyst features a “Children in Nature” series for ages 6 to 9, a program that includes forest exploration, gardening, music, art and mindfulness practices. Junior Tracker camp gives 10- to 17-year-olds the opportunity to learn wilderness survival, leadership and communications skills.
Women’s circles, another popular offering, take place each month around the new moon time. Miner explained that her involvement with Amethyst grew from her attendance at these events, eventually expanding to include grant writing and even leading the monthly women’s circles.
“The women’s circles have been a big piece of my spiritual journey and really helped me, so I wanted to offer that to others,” she said. “It has been such a rewarding experience to be able to do this. Especially the past year or so—considering all the chaos and uncertainty—these events have meant a lot for the women who keep coming.”
For those looking to get involved with Amethyst and meet like-minded people, community service days happen each Wednesday. Work ranges from painting to weeding to any number of manageable, maintenance and upkeep activities.
“We have a meal together in the late afternoon, and then sometimes there’s meditation, music or anything we might want to do as a group,” Kovacs said.
Amethyst also offers opportunities for rejuvenation and contemplation. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, rest and relaxation weekends are popular and can be enjoyed as a solo experience or as something to share with a friend or partner. Registration includes room rental, vegetarian meals and optional yoga and meditation classes. Forest walks and holistic therapies are also available.
Silent retreats and winter retreats are offered, as well, and the center can be booked for personal retreats with a few close friends or to host a larger event.
Dream Big
Erica Jo Shaffer often attends events at Amethyst, but also has hosted events and contributed to the land. Among her many gifts, she is a Reiki master and gifted horticulturist.
Shaffer spoke of the land and feel of the property as significant draws, as well as Amethyst’s culture of openness and creativity. She helped create a meditation garden, which was designed with consideration of the seasons, deer population and overall environment, and, in October, organized a Samhain (pronounced “SAH-win”) celebration for the community.
“Amethyst draws a group of people who all share ideas from whatever space of creativity we’re in,” she said. “We all get together and dream big.”
Amethyst Retreat Center has no political or spiritual affiliations, Kovacs explained. Community events are alcohol- and drug-free in order to support wellness and ensure that everyone feels welcome.
“We’re interested in creating the conditions for people to come together to find themselves, exchange ideas, to learn, to grow, and to create a life and world that has meaning to them,” she said.
Amethyst Retreat Center is located at 44 Buffalo Creek Road, Duncannon. For more information, visit www.amethystretreatcenter.org or their Facebook and Instagram pages.
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