Find quick answers to your questions about volunteering with Camphill
FIND ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
What do people in Camphill do?
So much – you’ll be amazed!
Members of each house community are responsible for the care, beauty, maintaining and running of the home. They support each other in daily tasks and create a unique social culture, which includes a focus on communal meals. Volunteers are responsible for the health and care needs of the people they live with. Some people need professional nursing, medical and therapeutic support.
Besides those who live in house communities, many others have a high level of involvement in the community. They are employed in a range of administrative and specialist roles (for instance in the office, therapists, teachers, nurses, assisted employment coaches) or as volunteers offering support in a particular field of interest and expertise.
Everyone in Camphill contributes to the sustaining of the community according to his or her ability, striking a balance between personal interest and community need. This may mean accompanying people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in an artisan craft studio, producing beautiful woven fabric or wooden toys; helping out in the community cafe; making bread, baked goods, and canned goods for the community, or assisting on the land with the animals, vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, flower gardens and more.
Regular cultural, social and festive events are a feature of Camphill communities. There are abundant opportunities to contribute to inventing, planning, preparing, creating and hosting such events together with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These include fairs, plays, concerts, seasonal festivals, and sacred gatherings.
What is a coworker?
We use the word coworker in our communities to refer to everyone who is there to support our community members with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
What is the application process to volunteer?
Create an account, select communities, fill out our application, and interview. All of these things can be done online.
If you don’t already have any specific communities in mind, the first step is to choose a few communities and positions that you are most interested in. Start here.
When you begin the online application, you can select and apply to 5 positions. (Fewer is fine too!)
You will need to provide the contact information for your academic, volunteer, or professional references.
Your application will be considered complete once you have filled it all out and at least two of your references have submitted the form we will email them. The reference forms go out automatically when you enter their email addresses.
Then your application will be reviewed by the admissions team in each of the communities you’ve selected. If they feel it’s a good fit and still have positions available, they will contact you to set up an interview – this is usually done with Skype.
If it’s a good fit and you decide to come, the admissions team will help you with the rest of the process. If you are coming from overseas, this will include information and paperwork needed for a visa.
Feel free to contact us with any questions along the way!
What are the requirements to volunteer in Camphill?
Age, interest, and attitude are the main requirements. If you are from another country, you will probably need a visa.
Generally, you must be at least 18 years old. (But we do offer a few short internships each year to volunteers under 18.)
You must be interested in participating in community and interested in sharing life with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. You should be ready to work hard and have an attitude of openness and respect. The selection process tends to give priority to those who are able to contribute more to the community and the people Camphill serves than they require in support and healing for themselves.
If admitted, you will need to pass a background screening and provide the necessary medical forms from your doctor. If you are coming from another country, you will need to successfully apply for the appropriate visa.
How do I apply for a visa?
Your host community will explain the steps in detail.
First, you will need to be invited to one of our communities. Your host community will provide instructions and paperwork needed for your visa appointment with the American Consulate near you. You will also need a valid passport and the funds to cover the costs associated with the visa application.
In U.S. communities, the most typical visas issued to volunteers are B1 volunteer visas.
Camphill Academy students arrive on F1 student visas.
The Consulate will make a decision about whether or not to grant your visa. In the event that your visa application is denied, Camphill cannot take any further action on your behalf.
Is it possible to volunteer for a short time in a Camphill community?
Yes, sometimes. But a year is almost always better for all.
Camphill life is an intensive experience of learning, growth, relationship and skill development. We provide our volunteers the opportunity to discover their own potential and future direction. It can take a little time to acclimate to the community and find your place and connections. In Camphill, relationships are central to the social dynamic and healing environment. Most communities prefer at least a one year commitment, as it can be unsettling for the individuals we support if the experience of losing relationships with volunteers is constant. We find that our volunteers get the most out of the experience when they can experience at least a full year of Camphill life.
There are often openings for summer volunteers, especially in our agricultural communities. Sometimes communities have a couple of spots available for 6 months or less.
It’s best to directly contact the individual communities with questions about time commitment and availability.
As a volunteer, will I be expected to live in the community?
Camphill will be your home while you are with us. You will have your own bedroom within a house community and participate in all meals and activities as a member of that household. We call this lifesharing. Everyone in the household shares the same facilities, such as bathrooms, kitchen, etc.
However, some Camphill communities may offer opportunities to volunteer on an occasional basis to people who already live in the area. Please contact a community near you to find out what’s possible.
Who will I live with?
People, most likely with a wide range of abilities, backgrounds, and ages.
Camphill communities are lifesharing communities. Most of us live in an extended-family style home together with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as other Camphill volunteers – some of whom have made their lives in Camphill, raising their children in community and, eventually, retiring in community.
You will almost certainly live in one of these beautiful lifesharing houses.
What kind of tasks will I be expected to do as a volunteer?
So many different kinds of tasks – you’ll never get bored!
Assisting people with disabilities in their daily activities is the key task of all volunteers in Camphill communities.
You will be asked to help provide care and support with daily living to anyone in your house that needs assistance. This may mean assisting with personal care and hygiene and supporting participation in recreational and vocational activities and chores. You may also be asked to prepare meals, help care for the home, and assist in the garden, farm, or artisan craft studios. All volunteers also participate in the social life of the community.
Being a volunteer in Camphill requires stamina, perseverance and an openness to learn. For those excited by this challenge, the rewards are manifold: personal satisfaction, friendships, discovering new interests and capacities, developing skills, making a difference in other people’s lives, and being part of a community effort for world healing.
Do I have to be able to speak English?
Yes, you must be able to communicate effectively in English.
However, we find that, as long as they have the basic conversational skills and a strong interest in learning, our volunteers and students’ English improves rapidly upon arrival. So do not worry if you are not completely fluent.
Having English skills here is necessary because many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Camphill have limited spoken language. This can lead to frustration when communicating. Volunteers need to have a good grasp of English in order to use language creatively, often by trial and error, to discover ways of communicating that work.
Camphill Academy students who are non-native English speakers must submit a TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test (DET) score. A TOEFL score of 70 (internet-based) (corresponds to an IELTS overall band score of 6 or DET score of 40%) is considered the minimum necessary for admission, though individual sub-scores are also taken into account.
Do I need to have prior experience living or working with people with disabilities?
No. And either way, we are pretty sure you are going to love it!
Our volunteers often come to Camphill without previous experience in this field, and, to be honest, many of them show up a bit nervous. They soon discover that they had nothing to be nervous about – there is so much joy and fun and friendship. Our volunteers learn so much about themselves in the process – the inner growth that takes place for our volunteers during their time in Camphill is just amazing!
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy though.
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities usually have fewer opportunities and less power to manage their own lives and make choices than people without such disabilities. This means that the people we support can be vulnerable to the control of others. You do not need prior experience with people with disabilities, but you do need to show up with an attitude of openness, respect and patience, and be ready to learn from the people you encounter how to support their needs.
If you come with this open, respectful, and patient attitude, you will discover ways of being, listening, and understanding that encourage people of all abilities to unfold their potential. When you are part of co-creating this environment in your everyday life, you too will begin to unfold your own potential.
What training is available?
All new volunteers participate in orientation courses, which are offered in each community by experienced volunteers and other specialized instructors. The orientations focus on developing skills and knowledge related to Camphill work and on personal enrichment. In addition to orientation, there are mandatory trainings, like first-aid and CPR.
Every community also offers a range of ongoing informal education workshops and courses .
Some Camphill communities offer full-time programs to study Inclusive Social Development through the Camphill Academy. Different communities offer different concentrations, including Curative Education, Social Therapy, or Social Agriculture and Biodynamics.
How can I study in the Camphill Academy?
You will need to apply and be accepted as a full-time student in one of the communities that partners with the Camphill Academy. All program costs are funded by the host community through a Community Fellowship, so there is no tuition or cost to students to participate. Learn more about the Camphill Academy here.
As an Academy student, you will be embedded in the life and work of your Camphill community, gaining practical experience while pursuing your studies.
Does Camphill accept people from other countries?
Yes, people from all over the world come to Camphill each year.
Some come to volunteer and others to study in the Camphill Academy. We welcome citizens of all countries to apply. Whether you come to volunteer or to study, you must submit an application and go through the admissions process.
The international nature of our communities is part of what makes them such special, beautiful places. We love celebrating each other’s holidays together, enjoying each other’s favorite foods from back home, and learning about how different and similar we all are.
Will my travel costs be met?
No. You are expected to cover your own travel (arrival and departure) costs. If you come from another country, you are required to arrive with a valid return ticket. Generally, relocation costs are not covered.
Will health and accident insurance be covered?
Usually. Check with the community you are applying to for arrangements.
Will I be paid?
You will not receive a salary or payment for your services.
For the duration of your stay, Camphill provides free room and board (a private room in shared housing for each person and nourishing, mostly organic meals), access to a car, toiletries and other basic essentials. You will also receive a modest stipend to enable you to cover incidental expenses. Health insurance may be provided – check with your host community for details.
And if you have student debt, we help with that! Learn more about our College Loan Support Program.
Are there any prohibitions?
Drinking alcohol on the premises is strongly discouraged. It is forbidden to be under the influence of alcohol when “on duty” as it endangers the lives of the people we support. Many are on medication and are adversely affected by the intake of alcohol.
Only drugs prescribed for you by a medical doctor are permitted. The use of recreational drugs is not permitted and will result in dismissal. Smoking is usually not permitted while “on duty” or in buildings.
Sexual advances or sexual contact of any kind between a volunteer and a person with a developmental disability is absolutely forbidden and will result in immediate dismissal. You will be required to formally agree to this prior to working in Camphill.
What about holidays and vacation?
What about them? They’re great!
We are frequently amazed and inspired by how well our volunteers use their time-off. In just one year, many of our international volunteers manage to see more of the U.S. or Canada than many of us who were born here. Our volunteers pack A LOT of living, learning, and adventuring into their Camphill experiences!
Here is a video we love from a Camphill volunteer who documented his time-off from Glenora Farm, our community on Vancouver Island.
The timing and duration of vacation varies from community to community. To learn more, contact the community you are interested in joining.
Can I join with my family?
Camphill communities welcome volunteers with families. Families are fully supported while at Camphill, including extra funds for children, and fully-funded education through high school. Families are often asked to make a longer-term commitment to their community — usually a minimum of two years. To learn more, contact the community you are interested in joining.