Categorized | Charity, Kids, Living, People

The Camphill Challenge

By AML Publisher
Photos Courtesy of Jubilee Photography

The Camphill Special School nurtures the minds, bodies and spirits of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities through education and therapy in an extended family living environment.

The Camphill Special School nurtures the minds, bodies and spirits of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities through education and therapy in an extended family living environment.

Driving down an excluded remote road in picturesque Chester County horse country, you may pass by the small, garnet sign with gold lettering without much pause. It is the entrance to the Camphill Special School. The nondescript wooded drive that leads to the school’s campus wouldn’t necessarily catch your eye. But, the incredible work and environment of this community of children and on campus caretakers and professionals is most noteworthy. Camphill is reshaping the lives of families across the Delaware Valley, and the country, who have challenged children.

Dr. Karl Koenig, an Austrian pediatrician who fled the Nazis and settled in Scotland in 1939, founded what is known across the world today as the “Camphill Movement.” Camphill is based on the principles of anthroposophy, the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner that seeks to integrate spirit, body, and soul. Steiner formulated the concept of curative education, which includes the arts as healing and educational forces, and his influence is felt in Camphill Special School’s adapted Waldorf curriculum.

Camphill is a nonprofit Pennsylvania private school (and Waldorf school) that offers day and residential programs for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental retardation, and other afflictions associated with intellectual disability. The school’s students are in classes from kindergarten through twelfth grade. There is also a Transition Program for eighteen-to twenty-one-year olds.

The board of the Camphill Challenge consists of parents whose children are current students or have graduated from the school. L to R: Ted Boinske, Toni Bowersox, Ted Boinske, Toni Bowersox, Melissa Epps, Rick Moseley.

The board of the Camphill Challenge consists of parents whose children are current students or have graduated from the school. L to R: Ted Boinske, Toni Bowersox, Melissa Epps, Rick Moseley.

Toni Bowersox’s daughter Taylor was a resident of Camphill for five years before moving on to another program and spoke to the experience the school offered her family. “I would watch my daughter’s interactions with her teacher and house mother, Tunde, and just the love I would see between them…it was how I loved Taylor. It’s so hard to put into words. As a mother with a special needs child, it is very difficult to let them go, leave your home and trust them to another being. And, when you make that decision it is intimate and important and very difficult. Camphill offered my daughter something my family was not able to provide,” explained Bowersox.

Bowersox serves on the board for this weekend’s Camphill Challenge. Sunday October 18th is the third annual ride, one of the school’s important fundraisers and a biking event that will be held for the first time in Chester County. The previous two years the Challenge started in Conshohocken, but the board decided to keep the fundraiser closer to the school to attract more local participants. “I think so many people just within Chester County don’t even know the school exists. I refer to it, myself, sometimes as Shangri La,” explained Ted Boinske. Boinske’s son Jackson was a day student at Camphill for several years before becoming a full-time resident. “It is such a special place and with The (Camphill) Challenge it is really an opportunity for people within the community to become familiar with the school, and learn about how special of a place it is.”

“This place is very unique and special, it’s almost like the Peace Corps,” explained Camphill parent Rick Moseley. “There is no shift care here. The children are with their house parents constantly and so it’s spiritually a deeper and stronger experience for the kids.”

“This place is very unique and special, it’s almost like the Peace Corps,” explained Camphill parent Rick Moseley. “There is no shift care here. The children are with their house parents constantly and so it’s spiritually a deeper and stronger experience for the kids.”

Camphill Special School’s mission is to create wholeness for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities through education and therapy in extended family living so that they may be better understood and their disabilities moderated, that they may more fully unfold their potential, and that they more fully and meaningfully participate in life.“When I first came here, I likened it to an old hippie commune. It is just so idyllic, the houses and the people who live here and work with the children embrace Camphill as a way of life rather than a job. And, for anyone who comes here, you can sense that and the children sense it too. This is their home,” explained Camphill parent Melissa Epps.

The school’s students included children and youth ages four to twenty-one who come from fifteen states across the country and Bermuda. All around the world, more than one hundred Camphill communities in over twenty countries take different forms. But, the Camphill Special School is the only Camphill community in North America that specifically serves children and the only Waldorf school that exclusively serves children with special needs.

Rick Moseley, a Philadelphia resident and parent of a Camphill Special School fifth grader, initiated the ride three years ago as a way to have friends from the city visit his daughter’s extraordinary environment. “As a parent with a challenged child, it is hard to come to grasp with the fact that your child is not going to be the best that they can be in your own home, in your own care. It’s a different scenario to deal with. Here at Camphill the children are challenged to live independently. By living together, this life sharing model at Camphill, the kids figure it out because there is this great continuity between house life, home life and work. It’s all woven together and they are able to achieve much more than they would had they stayed at home,” explained Moseley.

Camphill

This year’s ride, which begins and ends at the school located in Glenmoore, offers a moderately challenging thirty-five mile course and an easier ten mile route suitable for families and beginner riders. Cyclists will wend their ways through Chester County during peak autumn foliage with astounding views of horse farms, historic homes, and covered bridges. A gourmet picnic and live music will round out the day.

Proceeds of the Camphill Challenge benefit Camphill Special School. To register to ride or to sponsor the 2009 Camphill Challenge, contact Courtney Coffman at 610.469.9236 x132 or ccoffman@beaverrun.org. For additional information on Camphill Special School or to register on-line for the 2009 Camphill Challenge visit www.camphillspecialschool.org or call 610.469.9236 x132.

The Camphill Challenge

AroundMainLine.com is a proud sponsor of this year’s Camphill Challenge, the school’s annual fundraising event which offers cyclists a fantastic ride, during peak autumn foliage, through historic Chester County.

AroundMainLine.com is a proud sponsor of this year’s Camphill Challenge, the school’s annual fundraising event which offers cyclists a fantastic ride, during peak autumn foliage, through historic Chester County.

When: Sunday October 18, Rain or Shine

Where: The Camphill Special School; Ride starts and ends at the school — 1784 Fairview Road, Glenmoore, PA

Route Details:

  • Moderately challenging thirty-five (35) mile route suitable for most ability levels
  • Family Ride featuring a ten (10) mile route suitable for children and beginner riders (anyone under eighteen must be accompanied by adult)
  • Picturesque views of rolling Chester County hillsides, horse farms, and historic homes
  • Marked course with crossing guards at major intersections
  • Pedal through Camphill Special School’s Children’s Village at Beaver Run and Transition Program at Beaver Hill and Beaver Farm; Camphill Village Kimberton Hills; and Camphill Soltane

Registration FeesChildren under 10 are free

  • Riders age 16 and over by October 1 – $25
  • Riders under age 16 by October 1 – $15
  • Riders age 16 and over after October 1 – $30
  • Riders under age 16 after October 1 – $20

Rider Amenities

  • Water stations stocked with beverages and snacks
  • T-shirt with paid registration
  • Complimentary gourmet picnic
  • Musical entertainment

Schedule
8:30 am Registration opens
9 to 9:30 am Thirty-five mile ride departs
11 to 11:30 am Family Ride departs
12:00 to 3:00 pm Gourmet picnic and music

Bicyclist requirements

  • All participants must wear helmets
  • All participants must sign a waiver
  • All bicyclists under the age of eighteen (18) must be accompanied by an adult
  • All bicyclists must follow proper road etiquette to ensure their own safety and the safety of other riders
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Kathy Levine Says:

    Lovely article Sarah. Now if the weather will just give us a break. EXTREMELY iffy.
    Best,
    K

  2. Nancy Bea Miller Says:

    What a fantastic article! And the photos are beautiful too…such depth and clarity. I’ll be there cheering the riders on!

  3. Pat Viera Says:

    We’ll be cheering everyone on long distance from Bermuda! We hope lots of riders come out to support and learn more about the wonderful people and programs of Camphill.

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