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Youth Connect at AMP Camp

In August, foster care youth attended AMP Camp in Bloomfield, Iowa, to network, discuss legislative advocacy, and participate in fun activities.

AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential) is a youth-driven, statewide group led by YSS that seeks to unleash the full potential among foster and adoptive children in Iowa. The organization offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, educational assistance, and life skills training to help youth become self-sufficient, independent adults.

After a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AMP Camp returned in-person to help youth connect and bond over same-shared experiences in the foster care system.

During the week, 35 youth enjoyed fishing and swimming in the lake, campfire gatherings, dance parties, games, and arts and crafts. In addition, campers participated in meaningful activities such as strategic storytelling, color personality tests, and a cookie-baking contest to demonstrate that each youth—like each recipe—is unique and valued.

On the final day, the campers signed each other’s t-shirts and took photos with their new AMP family.

“The youth experienced walls that came down, countless friendships that were forged, and lifelong memories that were created. The smiles were endless all week, as were the genuine tears on the last day,” said Terri Johanson, VP of Child Welfare Services at YSS. “AMP Camp 2022 was a huge success!”

The organization was formed in 2005 as Elevate, a support group for foster and adoptive teenagers. In 2011, YSS (then Youth & Shelter Services) won the bid to become the lead sub-contracting agency for the organization, and the name changed from Elevate to AMP.

Today, AMP empowers youth to advocate for themselves and have a voice in child welfare policies. The organization’s motto is “Nothing about us, without us” and encourages youth to speak out to make foster care more responsive and effective.

Learn more about AMP.

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