COPAKE — Seven volunteers and people with disabilities from Camphill Village Copake, a community for adults with developmental disabilities and service volunteers, have returned from a two-week visit to Solheimar Ecovillage in Iceland. Solheimer is a like-minded community that has been participating in a volunteer exchange program with Camphill Village Copake for five years.
Magdalena Szewczykowska, a Camphill Village Copake volunteer who attended the Icelandic trip, says despite the differences which could be perceived as crucial, Solheimar is still regarded as a Camphill village, or a transformed Camphill that is also an Ecovillage, making it more recognizable in the country.
“Our guide taught us about Solheimar Ecovillage’s workshops, organizational structure, important historical points, and their strengths and challenges,” said Szewczykowska. “We found a lot of things similar to Camphill Village Copake, as well as differences conditioned by the Icelandic social, cultural and political environment. I regard myself as lucky to have the chance to take this trip, especially in being able to share it with others and together experiencing joys and struggles of traveling.”
More than 100 Camphill communities exist globally, immersing people with developmental differences and volunteers where they live and work together as equals in extended families, living off the land and learning important life and trade skills.
“We invite our volunteers to see that Camphill is a global community and allow them to see similarities and struggles of other cultures,” said Ben Matlock of Camphill’s Coworker Development Group. “Each Camphill community is sustainable within itself, but we are also outward looking; we reach out into the world. Trips like these widen their horizons of our volunteers and gives them the bigger picture of what Camphill is trying to do.”
Additionally, three volunteers recently attended the Esk Valley Camphill Community Youth Conference in Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK. The four-day conference featured discussions, workshops and activities, explore the question, “How do we express our Camphill Values in the modern world?” The conference was organized and planned by young people affiliated with Camphill to highlight the interchange of cultures and work with each other to answer important questions about growing the Camphill movement.
“What we practice here is reflected in other cultures,” said Shady Shafik, a Camphill Village Copake volunteer from Egypt. “Taking part in these trips helps us to get to know the world around us while sharing these experiences with others. Beyond personal growth, we look to grow our communities as a whole. It was an amazing experience to visit the United Kingdom, meet people who are doing the same things we are, and bring some of their ideas back with us.”
For information on volunteering, visit www.camphillvillage.org.