Class 11 Social Practical - A trip to Botton Village
Last week, from the 27th of June to the 4th of July, the whole of Class 11 travelled up to Yorkshire with our class guardians and Madame Coote to pay a visit to Botton. This class trip is one that happens every year with each Class 11, and is known as a Social Practical. In other words, a practical trip during which we gain a broader social awareness and experience, learning key skills to take on board and apply to other people and situations in the future. The reason Botton is the chosen location for this kind of trip is because it is a Camphill Village Trust Community, where people with learning disabilities (known as residents) live alongside co-workers and support the community there by working together. Our task at Botton would be to help out in the community and come to an understanding of how it all works in the week we spent there.
Botton itself is comprised of a small village and the few farms dotted around it, all nestled within the gorgeous expanse of a valley in the beautiful North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire. The landscape it’s set in is an absolutely breathtaking sight, and the amount of nature that constantly surrounded us during our stay gave the trip a free and simple feel. After the stress of exams, we were escaping back into the basics of nature.
This was very much the case with our duties around Botton as well. The class was split into a few different groups to work at various places around Botton, most commonly the farms, and jobs included weeding, hay-making, forestry, and herding farm animals such as sheep, cows, and chickens. The experience was very physical, and it left a lot of us very achy during the first few days. But though the work was hard, it was also somehow relaxing. It was calming, in that it required no mental strain and instead only the use of the physical body, which was a very nice change after mentally exhausting exams. Many members agreed that as such, the trip was extremely well timed.
I know for a fact that through working with the members of the community with special needs at Botton, the class has come away with a much greater confidence and capability to interact with those we would call mentally handicapped. Though many of us were apprehensive of how to behave around these people at first, we soon realised how friendly, open, and approachable the residents at Botton are, and it was hard for us all not to react in the same way. Completing tasks on the farms with the residents was extremely rewarding, and not just because of the physical end-products of our labour.
Some quotes taken from presentations presented by class members to the rest of Class 11 reveal just a couple of the realisations many of us came to.
“What I found interesting was how you didn’t have to ‘tiptoe’ around the residents; you could behave with them in exactly the same way as you would with anyone else. I ended up thinking, who am I to say that these people aren’t ‘normal’? They’re just people. Who am I to say that they have a disability?” - Seamus Dillane
“They just have a different perspective on the world.” - Mickey Weavers
As such, I believe the trip to Botton has had a very positive effect on our class. Indeed, we all seemed to come away from it as much more accepting of each other and much more open as people. I feel that the resident’s friendly and unjudgemental personalities rubbed off on all of us. Spending time with the residents and co-workers at Botton, completing practical tasks for the wider community, being able to feel proud of our ability to contribute, and finally, learning how to better understand and appreciate everyone around us without any prejudices, were all things that Botton offered our class as fantastic opportunities to grow and better ourselves as a group and as individuals. I have often heard it said that the Class 11 trip to Botton is life-changing. And having seen the influence it has had on our class as a whole and the opportunities it has given us to be more socially accepting and mature in the future, I am inclined to agree.
Katherine Burgess, Class 11 student