To Learn to Live: My personal unfolding from a year at Beaver Run

By Benedikt Meßer, Coworker Alumnus ‘19

You are coming back from an exciting trip to New York City. You have seen more different people in an hour than you have seen in a month, rushing up and down the avenues. Honking cars, flashing lights, and billboards swarm in your head. Then suddenly, you spot the white, rustic facade of Creekside between the cover of the lush branches. Even if you have only lived here for a couple of months, there is a feeling of coming home.

It is a haven—for the students just as it is for coworkers, young and old, everyone. Which is where it gets interesting. It is a social experiment where everyone from everywhere is connected through our bond to the children.

Now, who is in charge of who? I guess it is a balance. Let’s call it “educating freedom,” and that is just fine because forgiveness is the key to balance. A harmonious atmosphere that is warm and holding, nurturing and empowering for all its villagers. But first and foremost, human. Alive and breathing! From fall to spring life-giving and draining. From summer to winter full and ever-changing.

What a place to grow up, to learn to live, to give and receive. Everyone who comes gets what they need because there is a teacher in everyone and everything. Sometimes it is a walk in the woods (or a run), eating a seemingly simple meal (or preparing one), an intimate conversation (or holistic lecture), but always when you don’t expect it.

Which was exactly my case. I started the year with pure excitement and motivation to experience a year abroad but was not at all able to grasp that my life’s journey was just about to begin.

Beaver Run is a multicultural country in itself that would teach me to see the world in all its different facets and colors. The children invited me in the most innocent way to be a part of their lives. Working, playing, and living with them taught me that we all have our “special needs.” It taught me to understand, accept, and embrace them within myself and in others. 

Love became bigger than fear and all its sidekicks. 

When I arrived, I carried the seed already, but I had it concealed in a shell. I was offered my very own place to grow in the community life, a fertile soil. I was welcomed to learn and to evolve. Everyone is. That is what we all strive for: to learn to live, wherever we go. 

But a place where learning and living, change and growth, are so welcomed and ever-present, as they are in this children’s school hidden in the woods, is hard to find in a world that is ruled by money and statistics. We learn how to live with love but also with responsibility. 

Leaving Beaver Run means carrying out the magic that does not only live in the eyes of the children but which can be kindled in everyone.


Original article written for Reflections, a publication from The Camphill School. Find more here: