Here are the two most common questions we’re asked about Camphill Soltane.
What is Camphill Soltane?
From their letterhead: “A life-sharing educational community for and with individuals with developmental disabilities”
Basically, it is a community for adults with developmental disabilities unlike any that we had ever heard of. There are two programs housed on the campus, the first is the Learning for Life program which is modeled after a liberal arts college experience. Students live on campus in large home settings and take classes (academic, fine arts, pre-vocational, life skills, and vocational) for 5 years. The other program is available to graduates of the Learning for Life program and it is the Community Resident program. This program is available for those that wish to continue on at/return to Camphill. It provides vocational training and a job either on or off campus. Residents also receive continuing education in life skills and are involved in planning events for the entire Camphill community (and they live in large home settings same as the students). Areas that they can work on campus include a bakery, weavery, a small store, and landscaping and gardening (they have an orchard, a garden, and lots of berry bushes).
It’s not at all what you would imagine a residential community for individuals with developmental disabilities would be like. It’s not a “institution” or “facility.” It’s truly a home and community for these people where they learn valuable life skills in an environment that meets them where they are. Everyone contributes to the community as they are able. There is nothing institutional about it. Each home really is a house and not a building. Each person is a respected individual and is encouraged to grow in their abilities. I cannot believe that I had never heard of a Camphill community before. It’s absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to become a part of it.
What Will You Do There?
Aaron and I will be working together and also seperately. We will live in one of the houses with about 3 other coworkers and 10 students or residents. Everyone in the house is responsible for helping to keep it clean and prepare meals (cooking, setting the table, cleaning up, doing dishes, etc.). Our job will not be to do everything, but to help others do. It might be instructing, demonstrating, assisting where needed, but the end goal is to provide the students and residents at Camphill with learning experiences that will enable them to become as independent as possible. We are there to instruct and help only as needed (as well as chipping in our fair share).
Aaron has applied for a position doing land and estate care. Camphill has 50 acres of land on which are a large garden, an apple orchard, lots of berry bushes, pear trees, and of course lots and lots of grass. He’ll not only tend to the land, but he will be working along side residents whose job is land and estate care. Every now and then he’ll also have some students that rotate through the different jobs on campus during the pre-vocational portion of their studies. He’ll have lots to do all year round. He’ll chop firewood and shovel walks during the winter and till, plant, weed, mow, compost, fertilize, and harvest the rest of the year. I know he’ll enjoy it and hopefully he’ll learn a lot that he can teach me so we can have our own garden someday.
I couldn’t choose one program over another so I will be assigned to either the Learning for Life or Community Resident program. I will help out either during activities and classes for the academic program or I will assist in a work area on campus for the community resident program. I’ll basically be there to help as needed. It may be that I learn to use the loom and teach/help others to use it as well or I may assist during a class if anyone needs help. I will also take turns cooking lunch during the morning for my house. Everyone that stays on campus eats all three meals family-style in their house. If a resident has a job off campus, they eat lunch at work on their break.
Coworkers are on a lunch rotation and so during the morning while everyone is either at work or in class, a couple will stay behind and prepare lunch. Breakfast and dinner prep is most likely also on a rotation, but will probably depend on which house you live in. In the evenings, there is free time until 9 for the students and residents. Sometimes there are planned community events and sometimes everyone just hangs out at home. We will kind of help to organize some fun stuff during this time for those that want it. T.V. isn’t a pasttime at Camphill. Instead they play games, tell stories, read, or just talk and hang out with the people in their houses. Starting at 9 it is free time for the coworkers.
That is (in a nutshell) what we’ll do each day.
Tune in next time when I answer questions like “That’s awfully far away, are you sure you want to go?”, “Won’t you be cold?”, “Are you crazy?”, and the ever popular “How much does it pay?”