The volunteer opportunity with a unique difference

Learn more about the gap year opportunity attracting volunteers from across the globe to a unique community nestled in 600 acres of wood and farmland in upstate New York.

The volunteer opportunity with a unique difference
Volunteers and residents at Camphill Village. Photo: Camphill Village

The people at Camphill Village grow their own vegetables, perform various crafts, and generally share a simpler way of life. They engage in cultural and artistic activities, go on regular outings to see concerts or visit local farmers’ markets, and often interact with other local communities.

All in all, it’s a peaceful place to experience an alternative lifestyle and refresh one’s spirit.

There’s just one small difference between Camphill Village and other rural communities.

Of the 230 men, women and children living in the community, 100 have developmental differences.

Find out more about volunteering at Camphill Village

That’s what makes Camphill Village in Copake, New York so special. It’s a therapeutic life-sharing community established in the 1960s where villagers, people with developmental disabilities, and volunteers live together and contribute equally to make their community thrive.

Volunteer SaraMae works with Mishka in the Seed-Saving Workshop. Photo: Camphill Village

Each year, the village welcomes dozens of new volunteers aged 19 and over, who come from all over the world to support people with developmental disabilities, learn new skills, and brush up on English if it’s their second language.

Volunteers travel from across the globe, coming to Camphill Village from as far as Asia, Europe and Africa. Others, like Dan Hayden from New Jersey, aren’t a world away from home — even if it feels like it.

“Being from a suburb in New Jersey, Camphill is like nothing I’d ever seen before. Being up here in the mountains is another kind of beauty,” he told The Local.

Since arriving at Camphill earlier in 2017, Dan has been impressed by how well the residents with disabilities handle their everyday tasks.

“Having the farm with all the animals, and seeing the people with certain abilities being so independent and moving a whole herd of cattle on their own, and being so lively, it’s an attractive place to me.”

Volunteers spend a year at Camphill Village, although often, like Zimbabwean national Noma Motsi who has been there for one year, end up staying longer.

Noma first heard about Camphill Village from her aunt while she was living in South Africa. As a student, she did not have the chance to be particularly active in her home community and saw it as an opportunity to give something back.

“That’s what brought me to Camphill. The idea of discovering yourself while helping others and not expecting anything in return,” she told The Local.

Noma (right) has been volunteering at Camphill for over a year now. Photo: Camphill Village

Noma’s eyes have been opened by her time at Camphill, both by working with the residents and by meeting other volunteers from all over the world. Over the one year she’s been there, she has worked with volunteers from countries such as China, Guatemala, and Latvia.

“It can really change something in you,” she says. “You become a better person which is what the world needs right now. It’s a different lifestyle, but life is about risk-taking.”

Noma’s fellow volunteer, Antonia Goevert from Germany, first heard about Camphill Village when she graduated from high school. She had been feeling uncertain about her next move but knew for the time being she wanted to do something meaningful.

Seeking something different, Antonia got in touch with her local volunteering agency which told her about Camphill Village. She liked the sound of it straight away and spent a year living in the community.

“The whole concept was very interesting to me. It’s always worth it to try something different and learn something new. At Camphill Village, it’s like brightening up the horizon and you grow as a person too.”

Among other daily tasks, she spent her afternoons working in the candle shop where she learned how to dip candles and work with beeswax.

Learn more about Camphill Village gap year/service year programs

“It’s so nice to do something crafty, it’s something I’ve never done before. It’s great because you develop new skills.”

She says she would wholeheartedly recommend Camphill Village to other young people interested in volunteering, describing it as the “best decision”.

The three volunteers unanimously agree that Camphill Village offers perspective and the chance to get a better sense of self all while giving something back to the community.

As Dan puts it: “This place has so many opportunities in so many different areas. It’s an amazing place for growth and change.”

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Camphill Village Copake.



How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules