Create Your Family Culture

Join Sharifa Oppenheimer this summer!

Create Your Family Culture

    Or How to Live your Values amidst the Rising Tide of Commercialism

A Summer Camp for Families with Young Children
July 27th – 31, 2009 Monday – Friday


Parents of young children will  begin to explore the regeneration of 21st century family life.  You will envision the “Star” of your family’s culture, studying deeply your own family’s rhythm, your family’s work together and play together. You will inquire into your child’s life, looking carefully at art, stories and the nature of play itself. The complex and often confusing questions of discipline will be discussed, beginning with your own sense of discipline. You will learn the fine balance of both protecting your children from the effects of this 21st century highly media-saturated culture, while also preparing them as young adults, to step into their world with courage, hope and commitment.

Children will be held in the loving embrace of nature, and carried in the gentle rhythms of The Rose Garden . They will play at the foot of the back yard’s great old trees, splash in the shallow stream, sing and bake bread, skipping barefoot and free through their day.

The threads of the parents’ program and the children’s program will weave together throughout the days, sharing family style meals and early morning family yoga as well as times spent separately attending to their different work. Living in the simple, steady rhythms of The Rose Garden, sharing insights and questions, you can begin to fashion a richly nuanced tapestry of family life. This strong fabric can become a “magic carpet” , one that will carry you and your children through the complex landscape of a commercial culture..

Parents will explore the image of the five-pointed star as a model upon which to structure family life:

The first point, Family Rhythm, encompasses our various daily and weekly rituals and routines, as well as the celebration of yearly festivals. The second point, Family Work and Play, incorporates the way we attend to the workload of caring for a family, balanced by the way our family relaxes and plays. Third, Child’s Play includes the creation of imaginative indoor spaces, a variety of creative outdoor spaces, and a deepening understanding of the necessity of Play. Fourth, the Child’s Artistic Expression includes various artistic mediums, as well as music and literature. The fifth point, Discipline, is a culmination of the inter-weaving of the previous four.

The first two points, Family Rhythm and Work and Play, act as the “legs” of the star. They are the foundation; with their strong thighs they give support and take our family on this journey together. The next two points, Child’s Play and Child’s Artistic Expression, are the “arms” of the star. They are sensitive, fine and nimble. They are the limbs whereby the child reaches toward the world. Each of these four major areas, in concert together, creates an embodied space for the “head”, the self-reflecting aspect, which we call Discipline. When these first four areas are balanced and functioning well, discipline is established in the subtle atmosphere of the home. This develops, eventually, into self-discipline for the child.

Parents will explore each of these areas, looking carefully at their own family and choosing how to re-create and refine their life together, in order to bring stability, strength, and inner peace to each family member.

Children, as well, will experience the fruit of the above “Points of the Star”, which function harmoniously in The Rose Garden summer camp.

They will participate fully in the ongoing rhythm of The Rose Garden’s summer program. The same “Star of Family Culture” creates the foundation of a fun-filled balanced week of rich experience:  They will have a deep visceral experience of rhythm in the daily schedule, the influx and outflow of the daily energies. The children’s daily rhythm will be discussed at length, below.  Rhythm will permeate their day, through song, creative play, physical games and activities, and art work.  The principle of rhythmic breath is also included, as their teacher will balance the in-breathing aspects (story time, snack time, nap time) with the great swings of out-breath (outdoor play, swimming, walking, games) The children will discover creative expression in watercolor painting, crayoning, bubble-blowing, and other artistic activities. They will participate in the on-going daily work of The Rose Garden, as well. The summer program, particularly, leaves open a wide, generous amount of time for meandering slowly through the kingdom of Play. It is so rarely, in the 21st century that a child is allowed enough time to play outdoors, yet this will be their joy!  They will experience the creative power of language and literature through stories, verses, blessings, and songs that create the framework of their day.
Children’s teacher:  Rebecca Garson, graduate of Sunbridge College’s Waldorf Teacher Training and Sharifa’s colleague of 20 years.

Exploring the world of Nature:

Both parents and children will have the opportunity to ground this knowledge and experience in the world of Nature. Children will spend days enfolded in the harmony of the forest, and parents’ days will be woven between class time and family time in the woods. Each day begins with a nature walk and outdoor family yoga. Lunch is served family style at the big picnic table, and afternoons offer time to play in the creek, or go to the pond close by. Sleeping in a small tent in the big woods, drifting off to the song of the cicadas, awakening to fresh dew, listening to the daily concert of bird-song….we all can discover a new sense of our larger “family” and the culture created by Mother Earth. Each one of us will come to know the protection and deep peace given to us in Nature.


7:15     Meditative walk for families. This will be a quiet meander together through the deep woods. Adults are quiet and  open;  their  attention is given to their child’s interaction with Nature.  This  they support, not with “facts” about nature, but with wonder at the miracle of  the web of life.  They echo their child’s questions with a sense of awe. Back home, a short engaging yoga class will be offered.  Yoga for children is the focus, as animal imitation, followed by a few moments of quiet listening.

8:00     Breakfast. A blessing is sung.  There will be a different song for breakfast, for lunch and dinner  Breakfast and dinner are served family-style, with large serving bowls to be passed, and shared.  Attention is to gratitude, the lost arts of table manners, and group conversation.  Children will learn to wait to be excused from the table, another lost art.

9:00 Parents deliver children to the children’s camp. 

            Children’s schedule:

            9:00     Outdoor play:  honing the senses, exploring the kingdoms.     
            10:45   Snack
11:15  Walk to creek , catch minnows in a net, try to catch frogs in your hand, collect pebbles….
            1:00     Lunch with parents
            1;45    Nap at children’s camp, with stories to infuse their dreams
3:00     Family free time: swim at the pond, walk in the woods, swing in the hammock, take an afternoon bath…
6:00     Dinner together

Parents’ schedule:

9:00 Parents drop children at summer program
9:15   Parents join together to explore the “Star of Family Culture” Artwork, movement and play enhance  this exploration.
                        Monday:     Family Rhythm
                        Tuesday:     Family Work and Play
                        Wed:          Child’s Art and Stories
                        Thurs.          Child’s Play
                        Friday:        Family Discipline
1:00     Lunch with families
2:00     Children nap while parents have individual question time with Sharifa, or attend to individual daily chores/logisitics.
3:00     Free time for families: go to the pond, play, snack, take a walk, go to the small-town store for ice cream….
6:00     Dinner, then bath time for children (they love to take a bath with a friend!)
7:15     Bed-time snack, together
7:45     Bed-time for children
8:30     Free evening time for parents in the big living room: drink tea, share, discuss, laugh….


The Rose Garden
2579 Heartwood Road, Batesville, Va 22924

The Rose Garden is a magic-filled haven for both children and adults. It is deeply nestled in six acres of ancient well-loved pines woods. A small stream meanders through the property, the perfect place for children to putter in ankle deep water searching for salamanders, crayfish and minnows, or for adults to rest and listen to its joyous song. A hillside of broad-leafed deciduous trees keeps summer temperatures cooler than the surrounding sunny fields and hills. Close by a small pond is available for swimming and picnicking. Wooded trails wander along, perfect for an evening stroll. The Rose Garden is the hand-built home of Sharifa Oppenheimer, as well as the home of her licensed Waldorf-based Early Childhood program.

Parents’ Comments from Family Camp

“The wonder and playfulness our children experience at The Rose Garden was brought to life for parents at Family Camp. The opportunity to commune with other parents, in the comfort of the forest and the wisdom of Sharifa’s guidance, created connections to our truest imaginations and youthful rhythms. It was simply splendid! Francesca LoMonaco

“Living together and slipping into our rhythm together at camp solidified something for me that went much deeper than what I have read or attempted before. Absorbing and living the example at camp revealed to me why and how it truly serves not only the children and their needs but creates a  harmonious balance between parent and child as well. It has  been a precious gift for my family. I also feel like my cup was filled. I was nourished physically, mentally, and spiritually. We all know that when a mother is nourished in these ways the abundance of wellbeing overflows to her  family.” Madrona Wienges? ?
About Sharifa Oppenheimer

Sharifa Oppenheimer was the founding teacher of the Charlottesville Waldorf School, and is the author of the very popular  book,  Heaven on Earth, A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, She also helped to create the newly-released What is a Waldorf Kindergarten?  She recently founded The Rose Garden, a Waldorf-based home program. Sharifa has been a devoted student of the spirit, as well.  In addition to her study of Anthroposophy and Waldorf  pedagogy, she has studied Sufism and  taught meditation classes and seminars both in the US and abroad for 30 years.  Through this work, she began to understand that the principles involved in the shaping of the soul are the same, whether the soul is young or old.   In her many years of teaching both young children and adults, she has developed a curriculum for each stage of development that works with these foundational principles. 

Sharifa is the mother of three grown sons, who were educated in the Waldorf system. She lives in an enchanted forest in Virginia.?     

Heaven on Earth Endorsements

“Engaging, optimistic, joyful…a fresh revelation that clearly outlines the natural, simple, yet power-filled steps we can take to avoid the many pitfalls parents and children face in our day.” Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Parents, Magical Child.

“Sharifa Oppenhiemer has given the world a great gift in the pages of this book. The important child-development information is exquisitely combined with the best ‘How-to’s’ I have seen in any book for parents. Her book, is a ready guide that insures joyful, enthusiastic children who learn easily and contribute to their families and society for a lifetime. I have delighted in every page and feel this is absolutely A must read for parents, grandparents, teachers, and perhaps everyone who will ever touch the life of a child.” —Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., biologist and international educational consultant to 32 countries and author of Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head and Awakening the Child Heart, Handbook for Global Parenting ??”This delightful book will be a wonderful resource for parents. They will certainly appreciate its warm, friendly, personal, and reassuring tone. I would have loved such a book when I was a young mother! For those whose children already attend Waldorf programs, it provides a helpful resource for creating a bridge between home and kindergarten. For others, this lovely book offers wonderful glimpses into the wise and nurturing practices of Waldorf early childhood education. In a world where childhood is increasingly ‘media’ted and ‘adult’erated, this book offers much-needed support for the protection of childhood. ” —Susan Howard, chairperson, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America and coordinator, International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education ??“Being a parent is a challenging assignment, but with the help of Sharifa Oppenheimer’s book, Heaven on Earth, our work immediately becomes easier. This book is both heartfelt and practical. It offers sound parenting principles with down-to-earth examples of how to raise children with both insight and grace.” —Jack Petrash, director, Nova Institute, and author, Navigating the Terrain of Childhood: A Guidebook for Meaningful Parenting and Heartfelt Discipline

Information and Registration


Tuition and Meals
Children : $300
Adults: $500

Tenting in the woods: $50
Commuters: no fee
There are two small rooms indoors: $250

To register
Phone: 434-823-7026

To create a sense of intimacy, enrollment is limited to 6 families

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