From Province House to Home by Leo Glavine: Brigadoon brings hope and possibilities

Published on June 5, 2014

Brigadoon Village is a project that is near and dear to me.  I have had the privilege of seeing this facility and natural space take shape and watching how passion and hard work can make dreams come true.

Brigadoon is more than a summer camp.  It is a year-round facility, whose success is the result of a vision shared by parents, children, experts and caring citizens. These people have all come together to plan, develop and run camps that offer hope and possibilities to Atlantic Canadian children and youth who live with a chronic health condition.  This Lake Aylesford site is an amazing place, where children can meet new friends, build confidence, learn new skills, live in a healthy environment and, most importantly, have fun.

Each week, Brigadoon offers a customized camp for children living with a particular condition: cancer, kidney disease, visual impairment, Crohn’s and Colitis, epilepsy, heart disease, arthritis, celiac and facial differences. It also offers a bereavement camp for children who have lost a loved one and two family camps, one for children with autism and one for children with Down syndrome. This short week of sharing and having fun enables children to thrive as young people and focus for a brief time on living, rather than on their condition.

The Spoon Theory, by Christine Miserandino, gives us a small understanding about what it may be like mentally to suffer from a chronic physical condition. This theory sheds some light on the extent to which illnesses control every second of one’s life and how difficult it is to try to enjoy some semblance of a normalcy. The author gave her friend a dozen spoons, representing life with a chronic condition. People with an illness must plan every step of their day, choose which activity to do or omit and decide how much time and energy is required for each. Something as simple as going out to dinner later in the day requires an all-day plan. Each activity costs one spoon. Making breakfast costs one spoon, eating breakfast another. Walking to the school bus costs another one, if not two. Taking medication, another, and so on. If all the spoons are spent, then dinner plans must be cancelled. Spontaneity is rarely possible. People with a chronic illness must always be aware of how many spoons they have in order to take the next step.

At Brigadoon, well-equipped facilities and expert staff are the ones who focus on the illness and do all the planning, allowing their campers to live like ordinary children. Activities are prepared so they all have enough spoons. Within this setting, the children can find out who they really are. They can define themselves as kids, not as the condition they happen to have.

Brigadoon Village is where children explore their environment, expand their horizons and experience their physical world. This is a place where young people can embrace their lives and the moment and have adventures in a safe and nurturing environment. Protecting this idyllic location is so important and that is why the government has recently purchased the land around Brigadoon. This decision will help preserve access to the natural world surrounding the camp. In this world, children can be children.

I give my heartfelt thanks to all those who have made Brigadoon happen and who continue their hard work, dedication and commitment to running the village and the camps. Brigadoon is an extraordinary place for children, youth and families. It is a place of hope and possibilities.

“Brigadoon, Brigadoon,

Blooming under sable skies.

Brigadoon, Brigadoon,

There my heart forever lies.

Let the world grow cold around us,

Let the heavens cry above!

Brigadoon, Brigadoon,

In thy valley, there'll be love!”

                --Alan Jay Lerner, from the musical “Brigadoon”