“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” Those words echoed through our hearts for twelve years following the birth of our daughter, Ariel. We were sure there was no place for Ariel as safe, special, and loving, or as equal to her spirit, as our home in North Carolina. A home with two parents, a brother, a grandmother close by, another beloved set only a plane ride away, and many adult friends – teachers, OT’s, speech therapists, therapeutic riding instructors, and nannies.
Our dear friend Christine told us about a magical place called Camphill. Every time we complained or were frightened about the lack of services and thoughtful respect we thought our daughter should receive, she would gently say “Camphill” and her eyes would twinkle. Christine told us we would know when it was time.
There was only one place open in the 5th grade, Tobias’ class, at Camphill. One place for our mermaid girl, who fills our house and our hearts with light, who is our best teacher of patience and laughter and how to live a slower-paced life. From the first, when Ariel wouldn’t get out of the car at Beaver Run, and Mrs. Ursel smiled knowingly while she swept a space of lawn, and Bernie quietly stood and waited, Ariel began to understand what it would be like to have a new home in addition to her North Carolina home.
It took great courage for Ariel to negotiate new relationships, to respond to the challenges of teaching by a Master Teacher concerned with her overall growth, and to live in Ember House. We know that there is no place like home. Home now is two places: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. When we are sad and miss our girl, we are welcomed warmly to visit, to call, and to be in touch. And she knows that she belongs.
Recently, when her dad asked her what made it so different at Camphill, Ariel replied, “It just makes sense.” A school, a community – a world within our world that just makes sense. How amazing. So there it is: there’s no place like home. And you can never have too many.