What is Camphill?
Camphill's main endeavour is to shape a community in such a way that all those living there can realise their full potential, in as many realms of life as is possible.
- That everyone can gain the certainty that he or she is needed, in some way or other.
This is a fundamental need for any human being, regardless of whether he or she is in need of special care or not.
A help towards this goal has since the beginning of Camphill been the idea of the threefold social order:
- A spiritual life based on the individual freedom of all
- A social life where all are equal
- And an economy based on a brotherly way of caring for each other’s needs
The Camphill Movement was founded in 1940 in Camphill, an estate in Aberdeen, Scotland. This is where a group of Jewish war refugees, with the Austrian physician Karl König in the lead, founded a school for children with special needs — for care and education. When the children had finished school, the first Camphill Village was created. Now it was no longer teaching and education that was the aim, but to create a way of life for adults.
Inspired by Anthroposophy
The work in Camphill villages is inspired by Anthroposophy, based on the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). The awareness of all people's equality and the spiritual perspective of human existence is central in this. In a Camphill village everyone has the same right to meaningful work, and a rich life.
Camphill started up in Norway in 1966
The first Norwegian village for adults needing special care, because of disabilities or other factors, was started at Vidaråsen in Vestfold in 1966. Today there are six villages in Norway.
A global movement
There are over 100 Camphill villages and schools on several continents. Most are located in Europe and North America, but there are also villages in Africa, as well as some small buds in Asia.
Whether it's a desire for a lifelong commitment or just a temporary stay to acquire the necessary skills — the villages provide care, quality of life and opportunities for development.
Living in a village means to find one’s place in a community in everyday life and festive occasions, in leisure and in work. Through human closeness and mutual concern for the life in the village, a safe and stimulating atmosphere is formed. Here there arises a living environment that encourages the individual to take responsibility for oneself and for others.
A house-community with villagers and staff
Together, the villagers and staff form the house-community. Most meals are common and are important meeting points for conversation, or just for being together. A beautifully laid table, and tasty food gives satisfaction and joy to all. Frequently the farm's own products form the main part of the menu, which means both tasty and healthy food.
Ecological awareness characterizes all aspects of village life: food, agriculture, building materials, energy-management and recycling.
A living and humane architecture is characteristic of many of the buildings in the villages. Much emphasis is laid on colour and quality of materials. There are houses in various sizes, from small one-family houses to large households with space for 10-12 people. Small flats can also be offered at some locations.
Working side by side
Work is an essential aspect of village life and villagers and employees stand side by side in many of the tasks in the village. It was therefore clear from the outset that the villages would not consider salaries in relation to work.
And the consequence of this is that most of the employees are not paid a wage in the usual sense, but handle the catering to individual needs together.
The villagers themselves handle their disability-grant in consultation with their provisional guardian.
Both villagers and employees pay for board and lodging to the Village Trust.
Everyone has a job to go to
Most Camphill villages are built around an organic farm with animals. We grow vegetables and fruits, mainly for our own use but in times of surplus we also offer our produce for sale. The necessary animal fodder is also grown on the farm. Many of the tasks in the village are associated with the care of the animals and the cultivation of the soil.
There are a multitude of different tasks to be done and each individual can find his or her task adapted to abilities and needs. Fresh air, a hot horse flank, snorting pigs, vegetables growing, spring work and wood-chopping, all this is the life and work in a Camphill village.
Some villages, near to the fjord or lake, also have an opportunity for fishing. Nearness to nature and tasks that are stimulating are given priority when new jobs are created.
In addition to farming, each village has a variety of workshops, such as a carpentry-shop, a weavery, or food-processing setup. As often as possible, one tries to arrange it so that people with different functional levels work side by side. Several of the villages have their own shop where both food and craft items are sold.
Housework is an essential part of the village. The houses must be cleaned and meals prepared. People are hungry after a good day's work.
It is a goal that everyone has duties to perform that meet real needs in the village, the workshop or the local neighbourhood and that all perform their work according to their abilities and possibilities.
The celebration of the seasonal festivals of the year are cultural and social highlights of the village life.
It is possible to take a four-year block-course leading to a Bachelor’s degree in Social Pedagogy at the Rudolf Steiner University College in Oslo, while working in one of Camphill villages.