Camphill Communities are structured to provide a social organism that reflects the threefold nature and needs of the whole human being:
- Spiritual and Cultural
These elements are an essential part of life in Camphill. The quality of life in Camphill requires people coming to live, work or volunteer in Camphill to appreciate and foster these elements within the community. The understanding of life through “Anthroposophy” in all its aspects forms the background to life in our communities.
The spiritual and cultural realm of community life addresses the needs of the human spirit and each person's unique individuality. Camphill is committed to supporting and nurturing the spiritual life of individuals as each individual may chose whether it is in their personal journey and/or within the collective community.
Camphill believes life is about learning and so we support life-long learning and celebrating each person’s potential. Camphill believes a healthy culture is paramount to a healthy society and a healthy culture is about treating other with dignity and respect. Within the community cultural life and creativity is fostered and encouraged. Camphill is also very importantly about enjoying life, celebrating, having fun, being safe and have the confidence to acting with spontaneity.
The social realm addresses the needs of the human soul; it is the domain of the heart and human connections. Here recognising that as citizens of any community we have rights and responsibilities. The right of individuals to expect their Human Rights to be respected, Camphill support the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Camphill is a place where people have reciprocal relationships. While having the right care and welfare is important for people with special needs, the focus is not on “care” or “support” but on a culture of healthy engagement between individuals where we share and learn from each about ourselves and in doing so we feel complete as a person.
Building communities of mutual support where we recognise that to flourish we need each other and together we are stronger.
Inclusion and celebrating diversity is reflected in the social life of Camphill. Harmony in a community occurs when each person’s uniqueness is respected and the individual is allowed to flourish. Treating people with less equality or less respect because of their disability, their gender, sexuality, age, colour or religion does not have a place in Camphill.
The economic realm in the Community addresses the needs of the body and the physical and material aspects of life. Rudolf Steiner said “In a community of human beings working together, the well-being of the community will be the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of the work he has himself done; the more of these proceeds he makes over to his fellow workers, and the more his own requirements are satisfied, not out of his own work, but of the work done by others.”
In Camphill we seek to live by this principle while recognising it is most challenging in a society to-day. In the economic life of the Community we seek to put the well being of the Community to the forefront of how we approach our work.
Camphill believes that the dignity of work is important for everyone and that what is most important is valuing the contribution everyone can make in their daily life. We recognise this changes over the life of an individual. Camphill fosters an environment where everyone can work and create a prosperous community for each other.
Caring for the living earth can become manifest in the smallest of details of life, from the careful growing of vegetables and animal husbandry using organic methods, and the nature nurturing methods of biodynamics, to reusing and recycling as much as we can, to the ethical sourcing of materials for the development of a project. In seeking to create a holistic and therapeutic environment we are conscious that the lifestyle rhythms we set for ourselves and our surroundings play a significant role in determining our sense of well-being.
"The healthy social life is found when,
in the mirror of each human soul,
the whole community finds its reflection
and when, in the community,
the virtue of each one is living.”
A day in the life of a person with special needs brings with it challenges and surprises. While there is a daily routine that everyone follows in Camphill, changes may be expected for some reason or other - so each day is different and offers a chance for flexibility and creativity, or rising up to the challenge of doing meaningful work with special needs people.
In communities with children, like Ballytobin, they go to school where they learn about such subjects as history, but also art and music. There is a time to be active and participate in group activities, and also a time for individual therapies where each person can be on their own for a healing experience.
In land-based adult communities, the day starts with breakfast in the houses, and then depending on community, people may gather to share news and do community singing before work begins. Then each workshop group spreads out to fulfil their task, may it be feeding the animals, cooking, or baking bread, with a tea break in between, until it is time for lunch. Afterwards there is a rest hour before afternoon work begins. In the early evening, the groups go back to their houses for supper and end-of-day activities.
On weekends, the atmosphere is more relaxed. There are no workshops, but the work is focused in the houses - cleaning, tidying up. Each house community may make their own plans for an outing, or if there is a festival or special occasion, time is spent preparing for it.
For those who run a coffee shop or have a stand in the farmers' market, Saturdays may be busy as well. But the benefits of socialising that they present more than makes up for the effort and the work that are contributed by individuals.
On Sundays there may be a service, both for children and adults, and co-workers are encouraged to attend as well if they feel it is something that they can be connected to.
There are also holiday breaks for Christmas and Easter, or during autumn, summer or spring.
Life in Camphill is a constant breathing in and breathing out, following the flow and ebb of the seasons and the rhythm of time itself, which is infinitely precious and replete with meaning.