Volunteer June - August 2012
On my last day at Camphill Dingle I was asked to write a blog about my stay there, so that future volunteers would be able to read up a bit on what to expect. But how to prepare you for what lies ahead? Now, all I can do is relate my own story but hopefully you will find it reassuring and helpful for the adventure that is about to commence.
During my journey to Dingle I was extremely anxious about what lay ahead. I had no prior experience and, yes, it was also my first time away from home for longer than three weeks. As soon as I arrived however, these feelings vanished immediately. Eventhough my arrival coincided with the preparations for the annual Open Day, I was welcomed warmly into the community. The first few days I didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing but it didn't matter.
The full-time co-workers were extremely caring and gave me time to arrive and get my bearings. However, this did not mean that I was the new girl only allowed to watch. Oh no. As soon as I said that I would like to help wherever I can they gave me small jobs and responsibilities to keep me busy and get to know the people of the community.
The Open Day itself was absolutely lovely and well worth a visit if you are around for it. My job was to give children donkey rides, which was immense fun. Walking around in donkey poo and mud all day, trying to pull reluctant donkeys across a field. Fun.
Seriously though, it was amazing. The people in the local community are so nice and supportive, something I had never come across before coming to Camphill. The aftermath of the Open Day felt like the whole community, even the walls of the farm and the vegetables in the garden, breathed a sigh of relief.
It had been a huge success and everyone was very proud of what they had achieved. In the following weeks I learnt more about life than I had every learnt at school.
Every day I did something new, different and exciting. Whenever I was unsure of what to do and whenever I felt insecure, someone more experienced was by my side to guide me. Very soon I did not need this guidance anymore as they helped me grow in confidence a huge amount. As for the residents of Camphill Dingle? I have never met nicer people before in my entire life! Of course they have bad days as you and I do too but you pretty much instantly fall in love with them and then you just try to make their day better. You can expect Camphill to be full of life changing experiences and you are definitely not the same person when you leave as when you arrived. But that's a good thing.
As someone who had just left school and had no idea of what they wanted from life, Camphill gave me the opportunity to explore my strengths as well as my weaknesses and discover things I didn't know about myself. You must surely think that I am painting a pretty picture and leaving out all the bad parts but I can promise you that I am not. Whenever I felt frustrated or sad I had someone to talk to. Of course you will be tired at some point in your stay because one day off a week really isn't much. But even this doesn't affect you too much because you're having such a good time. Now as you are applying to go to Ireland I'm sure you have one burning question:
What about the weather?
Well, as I was only there during the summer I can only give you a small insight but know this: it does not rain all the time. Granted, July was incredibly wet but there was glorious sunshine in June and August - on some days anyway.
By the time it came for me to leave I really didn't want to. Having thought at the start that three months would be far too long, they ended up going by too quickly. I met some incredible people in Camphill Dingle and am still missing them an enormous amount. I am definitely thinking of returning someday and I hope, that after your stay you will feel the same way.
*Cue cheesy line*: For someone searching for the meaning of life and their purpose within it, Camphill Dingle is the place to go!