Finding Minnesota: Camphill Village In Todd County

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly every day, weather permitting, Ben Cotter grabs his ukulele and puts on a show. A Camphill concert if you will.

“It’s an early Christmas gift from my dad. Buddy Guy is one of my favorites,” said Ben.

It’s a familiar song and dance at one of the more unique places you’ll find, anywhere.

“This place in Minnesota, it’s quite rare,” said Bill Briggs, administrator at Camphill Village.

About 50 people call Camphill Village home. It began in the late 70’s, when a group of parents of children with special needs got the idea that they could create a farm in Todd County, which would allow their sons and daughters to thrive.

“They learn to do things. Their confidence grows. They never knew how to milk a cow before or to weave a rug. That they can participate in those activities never having done that before is what community is all about,” said Bill.

From milking cows, to bailing hay, to shucking corn.

Each day Mike Jennissen and Stephanie Pothen join farm manager Stephen Briggs, helping him move cows to greener pastures.

“It’s pretty easy to move them. You have to call them one by one,” said Mike.

They learn to herd cattle while learning to watch their step.

As Stephanie says, the cow pies and electric fence are things you need to avoid.

Stephanie hit her own milestone this summer. She got on the riding lawnmower for the first time. She’s so confident now she sometimes drives with no hands.

“This is the place I want to be. With all my friends,” said Stephanie.

The average resident has lived here for 17 years. Mike and Ben have been her more than 20. And each year, they get asked the same question: can you imagine living anywhere else?

“No,” they said.

There are so many activities to do and friends to see that if you’re away for too long., you can get homesick. And volunteers, like Stephen, say they get as much out of this as the residents do.

“They help us as much as we help them. To walk through life in that way,” said Stephen.

It proves that Camphill isn’t really a camp at all — it’s home in every sense of the word.

“To see what that means for them and their family and friends, it’s a wonderful experience and it’s something I never forget and never can get enough of,” said Bill,

Camphill Village is one of 13 such camps in North America.

It also offers dance classes, talent shows, arts and crafts, and a variety of other activities.

The volunteer staff is made up of people from around the world, who choose to live at the village.

More from John Lauritsen
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