Joining a Camphill community is an exciting opportunity. When I joined Camphill communities California I had a to learn to live in community and be part of an unconventional social formation while carrying out the task of caregiving to which I was a novice. I was glad to join the community’s training program when offered the opportunity. I thought that it would be nice to balance the practical work with a formalized learning process. Looking back, I can only express gratitude because this decision enabled me personally to get the most out of my Camphill experience. Over time, the Camphill academy became a very clear way for me to attain a Bachelor’s degree through the accumulation of college credits, but more importantly it became a resource for my work and helped provide perspective and guidance in community life and life in general.
Camphill is a place where each aspect of life is imbued with consciousness. We attempt each day to walk through our community mindful of our surroundings and the social intricacies of community life; this requires the cultivation of openness and willingness to live in a way that allows for healing and social wellbeing. In community, we strive to live in a way which brings out the best in each other, we strive to recognize each other’s humanity. It is the social therapist’s task to perceive the potential in the other and hold it quietly as a guiding light for the unfolding human being. The social therapy training attempts to cultivate this attitude as the therapeutic backdrop of social therapy and the work in the adult communities.
The Camphill academy’s training in social therapy is a community integrated course designed to support individuals in carrying out their task in the Camphill communities. The Social Therapy training offers a rich array of subjects ranging from various components of Anthroposophical study to artistic engagements through music, Eurythmy, visual arts and drama.
The training organically flows into community life and in many instances, extends to the entire community. Whether it happens through drama or Eurythmy performances, or through student projects, the community is involved. Social Therapy at its heart seeks to teach the art of living so it is no surprise that the training takes place in community life.
The student projects, which are different each year, come to fruition in many different ways. The first-year students are asked to partner up with another community member and explore a new activity through a project. In the second-year students are asked to help an individual explore and share their biography. After several months of regular meetings, the project concludes in a festive sharing of the biography among invited guests. The third and final project is a research project connected with the final thesis of the social therapy training. There is a lot of freedom within the parameters of these projects and in many cases the community is directly involved. These projects create meaningful activity and often times fulfill a community need or add to the wealth of community experience.
Anthroposophical study is another corner stone of the training. In the course of the training students study “Theosophy”, “How to Know Higher Worlds”, “Esoteric Science” and “The Philosophy of Freedom” by Rudolf Steiner. Each year one of these works is studied in a study group setting where students and instructors explore the works alongside. Each week students are responsible to prepare the reading and have discussions with the group based on summaries given by the students.
Each year the students get to be part of retreats and all students have the opportunity to experience another community. Students get the chance to have weekend retreats exploring different themes through intellectual and artistic avenues. These retreats range in subjects from inner life and meditation to cosmic evolution and embryogenesis.
From a student perspective, I can say that this training has added a whole new level of understanding and appreciation to my experience at Camphill. I am able to appreciate my task and the different ways in which we work at Camphill based on this personally transformative social therapy training.