Brigadoon Village

Camp for Children with Chronic Illnesses. Aylesford Lake, NS

This project was a labour of love for the Nycum office for eleven years. Starting with an inspired discussion between Benjie Nycum and Dave McKeage, and progressing through visioning, fundraising, planning, design and execution, Nycum was involved in every step of this exciting project that aims to provide a normalized experience for children and young people with chronic illnesses, get them out of a medical environment and into a camp.

Five camper cabins (two insulated for winter use) are spread across the site, and complemented with a dining hall, medical treatment centre, administrative offices, staff cabins, arts facilities, and learning activity spaces. Groups rent the camp from Brigadoon and tailor their programs for their target campers. The facility provides the support and flexibility to provide for camps ranging from Crohn’s/Colitis to Cancer.

This project is the fusion of the ultimate fun summer camp experience with a solid backbone of medical infrastructure. The design is a sensitive blend of staffing and medical support strategies with an approachable and exciting architectural backdrop. The campus design accommodates multiple camp “tenants”: each with unique restrictions, management styles and staff complements. The camp had to be designed to be instantly flexible and adaptable to each organization while maintaining core medical, nutritional, programmatic and safety services and spaces.

Fundamental to the camper cabin design is the ability for one staff member to supervise 24 campers. This allows other staff to have a break or conduct vital planning work. A scheme was devised where a great room provides a central observation point with view into each cabin space. At the same time, the beneficial dynamics of camp such as age grouping, friendship forming, and peer interaction supports small groups of six to eight. Within each cabin of 24, mini cabins have autonomous space and identity within the larger cabin building, allowing group identity and solidarity to take hold among these smaller accommodations.

“This camp is so good that it might be worth having Crohn’s to go to!”
-Vince Rochette, Camp Guts and Glory, 2011

Awards: The Lieutenant Governors Award for Architecture, Citation, 2012.

Photography: William Nycum & Associates Ltd., and Brigadoon Children's Camp Society.

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