Camphill Movement

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The Camphill Movement is an initiative for social change based on the principles of anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential communities and schools that provide support for the education, employment, and daily lives of adults and children with developmental disabilities, mental health problems, or other special needs. [1]

Anthroposophy philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded in the early 20th-century by esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by natural historians in investigations of the physical world.

Intentional community Planned, socially-cohesive, residential community

An intentional community is a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include collective households, cohousing communities, coliving, ecovillages, monasteries, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives. New members of an intentional community are generally selected by the community's existing membership, rather than by real-estate agents or land owners.


There are over 100 Camphill communities in more than 20 countries across Europe, North America, Southern Africa and Asia. [2]

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Southern Africa Southernmost region of the African continent

Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics, and including several countries. The term southern Africa or Southern Africa, generally includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, though Angola may be included in Central Africa and Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in East Africa. From a political perspective the region is said to be unipolar with South Africa as a first regional power.


The movement was founded in 1939 at Kirkton House near Aberdeen by a group that included Austrian paediatrician Karl König. [3] [4] It was König's view that every human being possessed a healthy inner personality that was independent of their physical characteristics, including characteristics marking developmental or mental disability, and the role of the school was to recognize, nurture and educate this essential self. [5] The communities' philosophy, anthroposophy, states that "a perfectly formed spirit and destiny belong to each human being." [6] The underlying principles of König's Camphill school were derived from concepts of education and social life outlined decades earlier by anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). [5] Today there are over 100 communities worldwide, in more than 20 countries, mainly in Europe, but also in North America and Southern Africa. [6] [7] [8]

Aberdeen City and council area in Scotland

Aberdeen is a city in northeast Scotland. It is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 39th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen and 228,800 for the local council area.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Karl König was an Austrian paediatrician who founded the Camphill Movement, an international movement of therapeutic intentional communities for those with special needs or disabilities.


The Camphill Movement takes its name from Camphill Estate in the Milltimber area of Aberdeen, Scotland, where the Camphill pioneers moved to with their first community for children with special needs in June 1940. Camphill Estate is now[ when? ] a campus of Camphill School Aberdeen. [9] There are six Camphills in the Aberdeen area.

Milltimber is a suburb to the west of Aberdeen, Scotland. It is situated approximately 8 miles (13 km) inland of the North Sea, around 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Aberdeen City Center. From 1854 to 1937 the area was served by Milltimber railway station on the Aberdeen suburban railway.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Special educational needs (SEN), also known as special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the United Kingdom refers to the education of children with disabilities.

The Camphill School Aberdeen [10] was noted in the HMI/Care Commission report for 2007 as meeting "very good" to "excellent" standards, [11] The school also holds Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society. [12]

National Autistic Society British organization for people with autism

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is a British charity for autistic people. The purpose of the organisation is to improve the lives of autistic people in the United Kingdom.

The Botton village received the Deputy Prime Minister's Award for Sustainable Communities in 2005; the award cited the community's dedication to the ethos of sustainability and mutual respect, as well as their concrete achievements in these areas. [13]

Botton, North Yorkshire village in United Kingdom

Botton is a small village within the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England which is mainly a Camphill Community for people with learning disabilities.

See also

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Thomas Weihs was a doctor, farmer and special needs educator, one of the founders and leading co-workers of the Camphill Movement and a pioneer of Anthroposophical curative education.

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Dr Hans Schauder, medical adviser and counsellor, co-founder of Camphill Community, founder of Garvald School & Training Centre

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Carlo Pietzner Austrian-American artist

Carlo Pietzner, born in Vienna, Austria, 26 January 1915 and died in Copake, New York, 17 April 1986, was a co-founder of Camphill, artist, anthroposophist, and a Special Needs and adult educator.

Julian Sleigh, was a Christian Community priest, councillor, founding member of Camphill in South Africa and author.


  1. At Camphill Kimberton, crafting a different way to live - 2013-10-05
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-10. Retrieved 2015-03-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Robin Jackson, The role of social pedagogy in the training of residential child care workers, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 2006 Vol. 10, No. 1, 61-73
  4. Holistic Special Education: Camphill Principles and Practice. 2006, Floris Books, Edinburgh
  5. 1 2 Marga Hogenboom,Living With Genetic Syndromes Associated With Mental Disability, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2001
  6. 1 2 Busalle, Rebecca, Cornelius Pietzner, and Stephan Rasch. "The life of the soul". Aperture, Summer 1996 n144: 26(10).
  7. Todd Saunders, Ecology and Community Design: Lessons from Northern European Ecological Communities, Alternatives Journal, Vol 22, Apr/May 1996
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-10. Retrieved 2015-03-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. Report Demonstrates Standards of Excellence at Aberdeen Special Needs School, press release, 12 September 2007. Retrieved on 28 March 2008. Archived on 2010-01-18.
  10. Camphill Rudolf Steiner Schools. Retrieved on 23 March 2008.
  11. HM Inspectorate of Education, Inspection Report: Camphill Rudolf Steiner Schools Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine , 12 September 2007. Retrieved on 23 March 2008.
  12. Autism Services Directory: Camphill Rudolf Steiner School [ permanent dead link ]. Retrieved on 23 March 2008.
  13. "The Deputy Prime Minister's Award." Learning Disability Practice 9.2 (March 2006): 26(1)

Further reading