Fire destroys Camphill school in South Africa

On January 16 2019  Camphill school and community Hermanus was overwhelmed by a fire that raged across the Western Cape.  "That morning, while I was on the phone, I thought I smelt something burning," said Sam Hodson, executive manager of the community that houses 54 people with intellectually disabilities and 31 staffers . A disaster fund was set up by the Association of Camphill communities. Both the school and the adult community were evacuated.

Unfortunately the School Community has not been able to return to the site since the fire. The consequent crowding is particularly difficult for the children with autistic conditions. Given the fragility of the situation, the conditions are being monitored daily.  The farm has suffered extensive damage.  Experts are now involved in seeking a solution to the fire in the ground.  It does not help that it is summer, with winds and heat at times in excess of 30c.  Experts are also monitoring the air quality. The School since the fire has been operating in a local hall, rented from a third party.  It will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  The boarders have been living in different locations and staying at home.  

*The community desperately needs funds to return these young vulnerable adults to a safe and predictable routine. To donate please

contact Colm Greene  [email protected] or Colm Greene AoCC Administrator Muir Building 427 Holywood Road Belfast BT7 3LN N. Ireland.

Screenshot 2019-04-24 19.01.49.png
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screenshot 2019-03-29 17.55.21.png

What Camphill stands for 

  • We are defined by our humanity not our abilities 

  • Each of us is special and deserving of respect

  • Everyone belongs

  • Each person contributes according to their ability 

  • A collaborative approach to management

  • Communities with a cultural, social and spiritual life 

  • The opportunity to do meaningful work that enhances self-esteem

  •  Caring for the land and the environment

  • A life where there is no Them and Us

“We need to join together in communities governed by  spiritual principles ... to strive and work for each other."                            Karl König, founder of Camphill


One of the main aims of the Alliance is to establish and support new Camphill communities. In the face of great need for people with a learning disability after years of austerity and the associated loneliness that comes from a dearth of provisions the Alliance wants to do all it can to provide the greatest possible choice. 

Screenshot 2019-05-02 11.03.54.png

A new community 

Esk Valley Camphill is a newly founded Camphill community in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors. It was born out of a clash between the CVT (no longer a member of the Association of Camphill Communities), and co-workers and families over the CVT's rejection of the core principle of life-sharing. At Esk Valley, 80 people, of all ages and abilities, live and work together sharing their lives.

One of the distinctive aspects of many Camphill communities is the 'co-worker': often these are people who live and work in their communities, alongside those with extra support needs, without pay in return for their lodging, food, living expenses and a retirement package. This way of life is widely practiced in communities around the world and is seen by many as the foundation of a healthy community where there is genuine equality - where there is no 'Them and Us'. However in the UK pressures of regulation, taxation policy and a general sense that this is an outdated way of life have brought radical change - and a good deal of hardship to co-workers and residents as well as their families.  

Read Dr Carys Banks on how one community fought for the right to choose how it lives

The co-worker:an endangered species

Life-changing stories. Insightful comment 

Videos from around the world

From a small manse in Scotland in 1939 the pioneering idea of life-sharing communities spread to India, USA, Canada, Africa, UK, Russia, Ireland, Europe, Vietnam and beyond

Find out where the nearest Camphill to you is. 

Click on the country and then click again when the box with its name appears. This will provide you with a list of communities with a link to their individual websites. 




Volunteering for Camphill in the UK and around the world
Screenshot 2019-04-24 13.28.30.png

There are over 100 Camphill communities around the world where you can volunteer. ( Find out where on our interactive world map ) 

You will be joining a way of life, which is probably very different from how you have lived before. You will become part of an extended family with people of all abilities, some who need extensive support. Camphill communities welcome people of all faiths and no faith. They offer a rich social and cultural life and the chance to make a real difference. For many it becomes a life-changing experience.

Screenshot 2019-05-07 13.24.40.png

NB: This is not an inclusive list. Go to our map (above) to find out where there are Camphill communities and follow the links to each community's website

To find out where there are vanacies for volunteers or gap year experiences go to our interactive map of worldwide Camphill cmmunities on this page and follow the links to individual communities.  Or click the links >>>


"Our highest endeavour must be to develop human beings who are able to impart purpose and direction to their lives"

Rudolf Steiner was a polymath, a kind of philosophical Jack of All Trades. He founded Steiner Waldorf Schools. He was the impulse behind the principles of biodynamic farming and he inspired Karl König to launch the Camphill movement. Steiner's influence extends to architecture, medicine, society, the arts and much more.  His ideas about humanity, beauty, nature and spirituality coalesced into what has become the worldwide Camphill movement. He called his worldview Anthroposophy or the wisdom of man.  He remains a controversial figure. But in an increasingly material world where people yearn for simple truths his ideas remain a powerful driving force.

What is

In 1919 Rudolf Steiner opened his first Waldorf school in Stuttgart. There are now over 1000 Waldorf Steiner schools in over 60 countries

The founders

Karl König was a Jewish paediatrician who fled Austria with fellow-refugees from Nazism in 1939. he was briefly interned on the outbreak of World War II. On his release in 1940, he set up the first Camphill Community on the outskirts of Aberdeen. König also set up more communities in the 1950s, including the first adult community in North Yorkshire.

König was a complex, thoughtful, occasionally irate and passionate advocate for people with disabilities. Born with slightly damaged feet he was gifted with a quick, precocious mind. Inspired by Steiner, König was the driving force behind the worldwide 


Go to our RESOURCES page for BOOKS plus SUPPORT & more