Residents from the Camphill Village, West Coast arrived in the Cederberg on the 7th of March 2013. I honestly did not know what to expect. For those who don’t know, Camphill Village is home to a group of special needs adults with a variety of challenges. It is a place of inspiration, offering a farm style village environment where the residents participate in making the various dynamics of the village work. From baking bread and growing vegetables, to running the dairy, the residents contribute towards creating a sustainable living from the resources available, and it has proved so successful that the fresh produce not only provides for the residents, but also creates an income and is sold on to many happy customers. What I saw left me in awe. These were the friendliest, most honest and openhearted people I had ever met.
During the customary leopard presentation, they did not hold back, enthusiastically asking questions and exceptionally interactive, offering personal observations and insights.
Next we took them to a place most later reflected was the highlight of the weekend, the Stadsaal rock art and rock formations. They people were awestruck at the concept of rock art staying on the rocks for so many years, and the knowledge of Dassiepis being a proven medicinal substance was met with mirth. The rock formations were what everyone enjoyed most. One of the ladies, Sally, likened one of the rocks to the Titanic. This is when I first noticed Sally’s difficulty walking, which is due to the fact that she is very short sighted, and how one of the gentlemen, Gerard, always held her hand to help when scrambling up and down the rocks.
Some of the ladies who had gone to Stadsaal previously shared their insight and knowledge of the names that were written on the rocks, happy to tell their fellow participants about it. All this while ardent nature enthusiast, Gregory, was looking for signs of any animals making imitation baboon sounds in an attempt to spook the Villagers. Everyone would break into hysterical laughter.
The next morning Callum and I were greeted with stories of the baboons in the night and how Gregory made quite a show imitating them.
The weather was quite chilly, so armed with raincoats and binoculars; we took a drive to place with true Fynbos (which comprises of Ericas, Proteas and Restios). As I led the hike I frequently asked if the rain was too heavy and whether we should go back. The answer was always no. So up and up we went, enjoying the sounds of birds and always hopeful of the sight of a leopard just around the corner. As we walked we saw two beautiful Verreaux’s eagles and stopped for a moment to watch them.
Finding fossils in the Karoo was enjoyed by all, firstly because we saw some magnificent Sutherlandia’s and because of the beautiful and plentiful fossils. We saw examples of the red and yellow ochre the San would have used to make paint for rock art.
The parents of one of the volunteers, Mama and Papa, enjoyed Truitjieskraal the most. They inquired about everything, from how the rocks were formed, to the fires and how they affect the plants. This would have been fine if they were asking the questions in English, but they spoke German and had to use hand and facial gestures to overcome the language barrier.
What I enjoyed most was the night walk and astronomy. The German volunteers told us about their stars and Matthew told of ours. A leopard enthusiast, Justin, braved the dark and walked ahead of the group to find a leopard. He swore that he heard one just a few metres away from him, but for safety reasons he says he decided not pursue it.
I will hold the friendship I made with Camphill Village with me forever, and one day I may even volunteer there myself. The sense of community and togetherness was tangible amongst the group and inspiring for me. I can honestly say that for me this was the best camp I have experienced with the CLT thus far.
CLT education project intern