Youth Conference | Camphill Newton Dee, May 2023

Community Building | How can we (re-)imagine our future?

Youth Conferences have a well-established history in Camphill and many long-standing co-workers share memories of Youth Conferences in the 70s. This awareness of each other and deep friendships between individuals and communities across the world are things that have taken place in Camphill over generations. Bringing this strength of the network of people surrounding the Camphill Movement to a new generation, was the intention behind rekindling the Youth Conference impulse.

The Camphill Foundation UK & Ireland are keen to support such initiatives in engaging with a new generation and provided financial support to assist with the cost of this Youth Conference, and the previous one which was held in 2019 in Esk Valley Camphill Community.

The encouragement to keep going and not lose momentum, was given by three individuals from Newton Dee who one might call “of the older generation”. They invited a small group of younger people within the Camphill Movement and the Youth Section to form an organising body. With the right mixture of wisdom sharing, guidance and letting go, these three individuals facilitated a weekend in Newton Dee in November 2022 to ‘pass on the baton’.

This weekend of brainstorming around the questions of “What do we want to achieve?” and “Who do we want to reach?”, marked the beginning of the planning phase. Common themes and interests of our generation today were explored and it was recognised that there are a lot of young people in urban areas looking for a different way of life. Many are drawn towards community living but often don’t know where to go or who to ask. Another common phenomenon observed was that people who live in communities want to connect with others who share their values and way of life, to learn from and strengthen a wider awareness of each other and build networks of like-minded people and communities.

It was the start of a beautiful collaboration between individuals from Camphill Communities in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the US (Newton Dee, Esk Valley, Glencraig, Clanabogan and Camphill Academy) with a strong link to the Youth Section at the Goetheanum in Switzerland and committed group of ten people was formed with a vision of what the conference was going to be about.

The Conference

The program was built around the theme of “Community Building – How can we

(re-)imagine our future” and consisted of different talks and presentations discussing research, experiences, topical issues, personal development and leadership. These talks were followed by group activities in which participants had time to reflect on what they heard, while doing something creative or contemplative including circus, singing and music, wood carving, meditation, and eurythmy.

Not everyone was from Camphill or an intentional community which gave the conference a great feel of diversity. There was a space called the ‘Idea Bazaar’ where people shared about exciting projects and new initiatives. Some of the presentations given were from L’Arche, the Youth Section at the Goetheanum and in the UK, Casa De Santa Isabel in Portugal, Freunde Waldorf, the Future Shapers, different Camphill Communities like Camphill Botswana, a project in Banchory, a teaser to ‘Born That Way’ – an upcoming film about Patrick Lydon and many more from different regional networks and communities around the world.

Newton Dee proved to be a welcoming and generous host. Not only did the 70 participants from all over the world enjoy delicious catering from the Café, but everyone got an invitation to join one of the house communities for a meal. The workshops opened their doors to us for one afternoon and together we celebrated the spirit of community with an inclusive, joyful Ceilidh.

“I am grateful to have been part of organising this conference. There was an incredible energy from all participants, the rest of the organising group and everyone supporting this in Newton Dee. It reminded me of being part of something bigger than the village, and I am hopeful for this Movement. We met so many young people committed to carrying these community values in different and innovative ways and I felt that the conference sparked something in the young generation in Newton Dee which I am lucky to be part of. A special thank you to our sponsors: Camphill Foundation UK & Ireland, Association of Camphill Communities UK & Ireland and Camphill Newton Dee for your support in making this happen.”

 Juan Sebastian Giraldo Armilla, Newton Dee.