This week, a group of nurses and other healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of treating COVID-19 patients over the past year paddled down the St. Croix River for a day.
The trip was a chance to relax, and a ‘thank you’ from the trip organizers and donors to the effort. The Healing Healers Canoe Day for Healthcare Workers is organized by Chris Heeter, a wilderness guide and public speaker.
KSTP produced the above report about the trip. Heeter told reporter Joe Mazan that it’s a way of caring for those who care for so many.
“A lot of it is a chance to is just let down for a little bit,” founder Chris Heeter said. “Many people have said I haven’t had a chance to grieve, and I know I need to. When I first reminded them you’re here because all these people wanted to say ‘Thank you’ to you, they teared up. It’s powerful to be seen and appreciated in the midst of all of this.”
It was the first of six planned outings on the St. Croix this summer, Heeter says:
Front line healthcare workers have endured crushing exhaustion, loss, trauma, and personal risk as they cared for us throughout the global pandemic. Although COVID-19 is not over, I want to do what I can to help these healers heal through day-long canoe trips on the St. Croix River in June and July 2021.
I want to provide a soft place for our healthcare workers to land: to sigh and cry, to laugh and reflect, and to come home to themselves again after this bruising year. Using the skills I have developed from 36 years of guiding wilderness trips and 20 years of professional speaking about leadership, team-building and inclusion, I know the healing power of time spent in the natural world and the deep shifts that can take place, even in a day, when people are immersed in nature.
The trips include canoe, PFD, and paddle, as well as lunch and a guided discussions about grief. Participants also receive a one-year Minnesota state parks sticker to help them continue enjoying nature.
Heeter is seeking to raise $24,000 through GoFundMe to provide the trips. As of this writing, she is about halfway to the goal.