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.



Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts

Catch the very tail-end of the wine season and autumn foliage in one of the lesser-explored corners of the Austrian capital: Mauer.

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts
Beautiful views and cosy taverns await you on the edge of Vienna. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Wine-hiking is an autumn must-do in Austria, and although the official Wine Hiking Day (Weinwandertag) that usually draws crowds has been cancelled two years in a row during the pandemic, it’s possible to follow the routes through beautiful scenery and wine taverns on your own.

Mauer in the southwest of Vienna is one of the routes that is mostly frequented by locals.

The footpath takes you through scenic vineyards. Photo: Catherine Edwards

You can reach this part of the 23rd district using Vienna’s public transport, and you have a few options. From the Hietzing station on the U4 line, you can take the tramline 60 or bus 56A. The former will take you either to Mauer’s central square or you can get off earlier at Franz-Asenbauer-Gasse to start the hike. If it’s too early in the day for wine just yet, you could start your day at the small and charming Designo cafe (Geßlgasse 6).

Otherwise, the residential area itself doesn’t have much to see, but keep an eye out as you wander between the taverns later — there are some beautiful buildings.

To start the hike, head west along Franz-Asenbauer Gasse, which will take you up into the vineyards, growing some red wine and Vienna’s specialty Gemischter Satz or ‘field blend’, which as the name suggests is a mixture of different types of grapes.

Photo: Catherine Edwards

The paved road takes a left turn, but the hiking route follows a smaller path further upwards. Here you’ll have magnificent views over the whole of Vienna.

If you stick to the official hiking route (see a map from Weinwandern here) you can keep the whole route under 5 kilometres. But more adventurous types don’t need to feel limited.

You can also follow the Stadtwanderweg 6 route (see a map here) either in full, which will add on a hefty 13 kilometres, or just in part, and venture further into the Mauerwald. If you do this, one spot to aim for is the Schießstätte, a former hunting lodge offering hearty Austrian meals.


In any case, you should definitely take a small detour to see the Wotrubakirche, an example of brutalist architecture from the mid-1970s built on a site that was used as a barracks during the Second World War.

Not far from the church is the Pappelteich, a small pond that is not only an important habitat for local flora and fauna, but a popular picnic spot for hikers. Its only water supply is from the rain, and due to climate change the pond has almost dried out in recent years, prompting the city to take action to boost its water supply by adding a permanent pipe.

The church is made up of over 150 concrete blocks. Photo: Catherine Edwards

What you really come to Mauer for, though, are the Heuriger or Viennese wine taverns. 

The most well-known is Edlmoser (Maurer Lange Gasse 123) which has previously been named as the best in Vienna. Note that it’s not open all year so check the website, but in 2021 it should be open between November 5th and 21st, and is also serving the goose that is a popular feature on Viennese menus this time of year.

Tip for translating Heuriger opening times: look for the word ausg’steckt, which is used by those taverns which aren’t open year round. They will also often show that they’re open by attaching a bunch of green twigs to the sign or front door.

Buschenschank Grausenburger. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Also worth visiting are cosy Buschenschank Grausenburger (Maurer Lange Gasse 101a), Heuriger Wiltschko (Wittgensteinstrasse 143 — located near the start of the hiking route, this is a good place to begin your tour) and Heuriger Fuchs-Steinklammer (Jesuitensteig 28).