The Camphill Way of Life
In every Camphill community, the vision of community way of life involves relationships of mutual respect, education and (or) meaningful work, real participation in community life, a stress-reducing rhythm of daily activities, seasonal celebrations, a rich artistic and cultural life, natural therapies, and acceptance, individual recognition, and dignity for everyone.
This prescription for community living – which applies to all Camphill community residents, not just those with special needs – is founded in the teachings of Camphill’s founder, Dr. Karl Koenig, and the philosopher who inspired him, Rudolf Steiner. To learn more, please see the History of Camphill.
The Camphill way of life in the western world is interwoven with recognizably Christian elements and themes. In every community there is a core group of committed coworkers who are attempting to work out of a path of knowledge known as Anthroposophy, a philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner that emphasizes the common elements of what it means to be human. Anthroposophy is the source of inspiration for Camphill’s healing work with children, known as Curative Education. It also helps us co-create life together with adults, based on relationships of mutual recognition and support in the practice known as Social Therapy. In every community there are ways of applying Anthroposophy that are unique to the community, and ways which all communities have in common. Camphill is an expression of a Christian path, but you do not have to be a practicing Christian to live and work in Camphill. Anthroposophy recognizes all spiritual and religious paths.
Festivals & Celebration
The celebration of festivals throughout the year is an important part of life in a Camphill community. Camphill communities celebrate many festivals throughout the year and include all resident members and the wider community. This common life of celebration strengthens our sense of community and belonging, and connects us to the meaning of our shared lives. As Diane Kyd, a longtime coworkers in Ontario, puts it:
“The festivals and rituals of birth, coming of age, graduation, marriage and death are all moments of meaning in an individual’s life. We also celebrate festivals of the earth and nature, of planting and harvesting in the cycle of the year. Moreover, we celebrate together in our various religious services and spiritual paths. All of these celebrations reflect an underlying purpose: deepening our awareness of what is meaningful and eternal.”
Ranging from the more well known festivals such as Easter and Christmas, to lesser known festivals such as St. Johns or Candlemas – the festival celebration is a chance for all members of the community to come together and share in celebration and reflection.
Camphill communities are “staffed” by people who choose the tasks and the lifestyle of Camphill for a short time, for the time being, or for a life time. Called “coworkers” to acknowledge their role of working alongside people with disabilities, these people come from many countries and many different walks of life. Some come with their families and make their home in Camphill. Although financial arrangements vary among communities all coworkers have their basic living needs met and work with money through Rudolf Steiner’s concept of The Fundamental Social Law:
“The well-being of a community of people working together will be the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of his work, i.e. the more of these proceeds he makes over to his fellow-workers, the more his own needs are satisfied, not out of his own work but out of the work done by others.”
Coworkers are people who have decided to live, however briefly, in a world where the dominant values are learning from others, practicing awareness, and appreciating and protecting the natural world. To learn more about becoming a coworker in one of our communities please visit our Working in Camphill page.