Big Cove YMCA Camp
Big Cove YMCA Camp was founded in 1889. Big Cove is located north of Sutherland's River, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Started as a residential camp for children from the Pictou YMCA, Big Cove is the longest running and oldest residential camp in North America. Big Cove is run from the community YMCA in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was founded on the site of an old farm, the remnants of which can still be seen. The foundation of the farmhouse can be found of the side of the Voyageur Trail, located next to a chestnut tree. Chestnut trees are not native to Nova Scotia; the tree was planted by the family who used to live on the site.
Big Cove runs five sessions a summer, with two two week sessions and three one week sessions. These sessions start the first weekend of July and run through to the end of August. Big Cove employs 40-45 staff and has an approximate capacity of 108 campers and 32 Leadership participants. There are 8 sessions per summer ranging from 1 to 2 weeks.
The junior section comprises campers from ages 7-11. The junior camper experience at Big Cove has one outtrip a week to one of the sites close to camp, and is generally one night in length with the possible exception for older or more ambitious juniors.
The senior section has an age range of 12-15. Seniors experience a more age appropriate outtripping experience, which includes longer trips to further places, as well as more challenging in house activities. Seniors trip for two to three nights and occasionally will complete a five-day trip if the group is interested. Seniors are driven offsite for their hikes to provide a more challenging experience and can go on open ocean canoe trips.
Big Cove offers a two-level Leadership and experience oriented training program. Leadership is often a precursor to being hired as a staff member.
Leadership One: L1
L1 is an adventure based program, focusing on hardening the hard skills associated with leadership in a wilderness setting. The groups will participate in a ten day canoe trip from camp along the coast, up to Port Hood, Cape Breton, as well as participate in a five-day hike, often in Chignecto Provincial Park.
Leadership Two: L2
L2 is a soft skill oriented training program. It involves many teaching sessions led by members of the resource team and the L2 Directors. L2 is considered a major component in preparing campers for the transition to staff. The L2 participants are required to shadow a cabin group for five days and two days, to build up their comfort in a leadership role. L2s also go on a five-day paddle around the south east coast of Prince Edward Island, from the ferry to Panmure Island.
All outtrips and outtrip planning is overseen by the Outtripping Director. A cabin group will complete two outtrips in a two-week session and one in a one-week session. The trips range from one night to four nights, whereas a leadership group will trip for a 5-day hike, and a 10 day canoe trip.
Spring and fall
During the spring and fall sessions, Big Cove is open to school or community groups to rent and use the facilities. During these times there are program staff on hand to provide programming and support to the group on site. Big Cove also provides all amenities needed including a cook. Although swimming is not available, many other program areas are fully functional. The average group will stay for three days. During the stay they will participate in six program areas of their choice, as well as have a campfire, participate in a 'skit night' and have two camp wide games.