The initiative involves distributing pill bottles that display messages about the various benefits that camps provide that medications can’t.
Brigadoon Village director of operations Jenn Ross said they usually recruit campers through hospitals, including the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax. However, they haven’t done a lot of recruiting throughout the pandemic. Also, they’ve come to realize that not all eligible attendees are regularly being seen by clinics or hospitals.
Ross said they were looking for other ways to get the word out about Brigadoon Village and the various camps and programs it offers. The idea of “prescribing” camp as a fun way to make new friends was discussed. The pill bottle initiative is a way to distribute the message about camp programs being offered while re-engaging with the community.
Located at Aylesford Lake, Brigadoon Village’s mandated age range for campers is seven to 18. When a patient within this age range who has a medical condition that would make them eligible for a particular camp gets a prescription filled at a participating pharmacy, they receive a special pill bottle.
The label could say, “There’s no medication for making new friends”; “There’s no medication for learning new things”; “There’s no medication for building self-esteem”; or “There’s no medication for feeling accepted.” There’s a pamphlet inside with further information on Brigadoon camps.
“That’s the whole premise — that camp is a therapeutic experience,” Ross said.
She said that while a young person may be taking medication to manage a condition, attending camp can lead to better outcomes through building self-confidence or by making new personal connections.
About Brigadoon Village
Ross said they are working to broaden the range of camp experiences being offered. Brigadoon sometimes partners with other organizations to provide specific programs.
Brigadoon’s goal is to begin operating year-round. Ross said they started with a single camp, Guts and Glory, for young people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It had 38 participants.
They now facilitate 15 different summer camp programs over nine weeks. There are sometimes two or three camps running simultaneously, depending on the number of participants. The camps are often for young people living with a particular disease or health condition or who face other significant life challenges.
She said this is the first year since the onset of COVID-19 that they’re aiming to have as many participants as they had prior to the pandemic.
Last year, thanks to a successful $12.5 million fundraising campaign, Brigadoon Village unveiled new accommodations, an arts building, an outdoor cooking facility and other amenities. With these recent additions to the infrastructure, they are now able to sleep up to 120 campers per week.
Ross said the village has a peaceful, magical feeling about it, especially in the summer when the energy level is so high. They hope to host as many as 750 campers this summer.
As of March 9, about halfway through the registration period, they already had 600 participants sign up.
It costs Brigadoon Village $1,750 per week to host one camper. Ross said Brigadoon has a pay-what-you-can fee structure, and no qualifying camper from Atlantic Canada would be turned away because of financial reasons.
Families choose how much they can afford to contribute. Brigadoon relies on fundraising, partner charities, community donors, and contributions from businesses to cover remaining costs. She said 85 per cent of applicants need funding support to attend a camp program at Brigadoon.
Another way to help
Pharmacist Zack Morse of Larry’s Pharmacy in Berwick said he thinks Brigadoon’s pill bottle idea is clever, and they are happy to participate.
Pharmacists are in a good position to forward the message about Brigadoon camps to young people who would qualify. They have distributed several of the bottles to children and families who would benefit.
He said that everyone who works for the business lives locally and is involved in different charitable or recreation-focused community organizations.
“If you’re from around here, even if you don’t know what Brigadoon is, you’ve definitely heard of it,” Morse said. “It’s just another way for us to be involved with the community overall and try to do a little good.”
Need to know
• Following its recent expansion, Brigadoon Village is now the largest pediatric medical camp facility in Canada.
• Brigadoon Village offers specialized summer camp programs for children and young people with chronic illnesses or other life challenges.
• A fully licensed medical team manages an on-site medical centre at camp to dispense medication and provide treatment.
• A kitchen team ensures that every meal served at camp is tailored to each child’s specific dietary needs.
• For more information on Brigadoon Village camps or to donate, visit www.brigadoonvillage.org.