The Lightbulb Moment
Founding Director, Dave McKeage was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11, which resulted in his summer being spent in the hospital undergoing a series of operations and chemotherapy. This experience led him to pursue a volunteer opportunity at The Canadian Cancer Society at the age of 15. This is when Dave had his lightbulb moment, in which he came to the realization that Brigadoon Village was needed.
Several years later, while working at Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtime as Summer Director, McKeage had an epiphany. He explains, “I wanted to build a camp for people living with chronic illness and I knew it could be done.” Since then, his drive only grew stronger and McKeage set out to turn his large and complex dream of creating a camp that allows children leading extraordinary lives, to feel ordinary, a reality.
A few crucial steps had to be completed before breaking ground at Brigadoon Village was plausible. The process began by creating a founding board, feasibility studies, building plans and identifying the land, building awareness in the community, developing a brand and identifying seed money. The following timeline portrays the series of events in which Brigadoon Village was built.
Research, investigation, and interviews get underway, as input for a formal business plan.
The Founding Board is established, as well as Brigadoon Children’s Camp Society.
The Founding Board Reaches a unanimous decision that Brigadoon is feasible and sustainable, and the decision to build Brigadoon is made.
Building Brigadoon Village ensues.
The first fundraising event for Brigadoon Village, Just Cause, is organized by Gillian Nycum and held on June 6th.
The Canadian Cancer Society – Nova Scotia Division and the Canadian Diabetes Association – Atlantic Region, endorse Brigadoon.
The IWK Health Centre features the Brigadoon project in their Annual Report.
An eight person Board of Directors is established and fundraising begins to reach an $8.5 million goal to build Brigadoon.
Brigadoon Village opens it’s doors to it’s first camp! Camp Guts & Glory hosted 38 campers living with Crohn’s and colitis.
It Takes a Village
Today, Brigadoon Village is the largest pediatric medical camp facility in Canada and offers over 30 camp programs, each of which is designed to accommodate a health condition or other life challenge. Although Brigadoon has a long history comprised of growth and change, each new initiative taken on by Brigadoon is guided by the values and objectives that were established on day one. Through core values of sustainability, compassion, partnerships, empowerment, accountability, and innovation, Brigadoon continues to provide extraordinary kids with an amazing camp experience – one that all children should have a right to enjoy.
I remember our first camper and how incredibly exciting it was to see them arriving at Brigadoon Village. I’ll never forget our inaugural week when we hosted Canada’s very first program for IBD called Camp Guts and Glory. One of the campers asked a counsellor if Crohn’s disease was genetic. He thought if it was, then his kids could go to Brigadoon and that would be okay by him. I couldn’t have asked for better validation. It’s all I had hoped for and more.
Dave McKeage, Founder