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Camp Tidnish

Camping can be a challenge for people with disabilities, but in my region there’s a wonderful place built just for people like me. It’s called Camp Tidnish.

Camp Tidnish Sign
Welcome to Camp Tidnish!

Located just over the Nova Scotia border in Tidnish, NB, about 27 kilometres north of Amherst, NS, the site has been offering week-long, barrier-free summer camps for people with all types of physical and intellectual disabilities for more than 80 years.

Situated on the beautiful Tidnish River, it’s owned by the Rotary Club of Amherst and operated by Easter Seals, a fantastic charity that not only helps people with disabilities attend summer camp, but also helps people access medical equipment, job training and jobs positions in the community. I’ve had the honour of being an ambassador for this non-profit for years and it’s made a huge difference in my life.

If it wasn’t for Easter Seals I would not have a camping experience at all as most campgrounds are not accessible.

My first time at Camp Tidnish I was in Grade 9 and felt very nervous about being away from home. I was kind of homesick, but after my parents left a camp counselor gave me a tour of the site, introduced me to the other campers and counselors and made me feel comfortable with how things worked.

Kiera in swimming pool, wearing a life jacket, assisted by a camp counsellor
Swimming at Camp Tidnish

The staff are very supportive and are trained on the many different needs campers have. They make sure your camping experience is fun, healthy and as inclusive as possible.

My favourite things at Camp Tidnish include traditional campfiles and swimming in the fully-accessible, heated indoor pool. Other activities include boat tours of the Tidnish River, canoeing, hay rides, an accessible in-ground trampoline, go-karts and fishing. You can do things here that are challenging for people with mobility challenges in the larger world.

Fully accessible pool
Barrier-free pool

There’s arts and craft activities, like making friendship bracelets, and there’s always time for meeting new friends, or reconnecting with old ones. This includes my friend Hannah, who has the same disability as me and is around the same age, but lives a couple hours away in the Annapolis Valley. We always look forward to meeting up again at camp.

Kiera and Hannah smiling for the camera
Me and Hannah

The cabins are fully wheelchair accessible with ramps. There are fully accessible washrooms and showers in each cabin along with hospital beds and other supports.

The camp provides beds sheets and pillows, but you can also bring your own comfort item such as a stuffed animal or that favorite blanket for your bed.

There are two staffers in each cabin every night. They’re more than happy to wake up in the middle of the night if you need help with anything or an emergency arises. They also help all the campers with personal care.

Kiera giving a presentation

Before camp you will receive a packing list telling you what items you need to bring. This is also when you fill out medical forms including all your daily routines and dietary needs, medications you may be taking. All the medical needs, including medication management, are overseen by the onsight camp nurse.

We eat three meals a day, plus a nighttime snack. The meals are served family-style with five or six campers to a table plus at leader four counsellors to help with the various needs of the campers.

The camp can accommodate special diets, like those with diabetes, and can puree food for people that require it. Your family can send special food if allergies or things like gluten intolerance is an issue.

The camp can accommodate special diets, like those with diabetes, and can puree food for people that require it. Your family can send special food if allergies or things like gluten intolerance is an issue.

Tuck is a special snack usually - chips, ice cream and pop or a juice box - served at least twice during your camp stay. This is not included in the camp fee, but can be covered during registration. Tuck also comes with camper cabin photos, a group photo and a camp t-shirt to take home.

It costs more than $1,200 to send a camper to Tidnish for a week, but Easter Seals subsidizes the cost down to $575 and can help you find community sponsorships to help cover the rest of the cost, though fundraising is ultimately the camper’s responsibility. You also may qualify for respite funding from governments.

Accessible Playground
The playground

This camp is the best week of my summer. I always look forward to making new memories that will last forever. It’s a week of fun and memorable experiences that your camper will never forget.

Camp Tidnish Facilities

  • Fully accessible heated, indoor swimming pool

  • Barrier-free hayrides

  • Well-equipped Health Lodge for nursing and care

  • Fully accessible bathrooms in every cabin, including accessible showers, Hoyer lifts, commodes, and supportive equipment such as adjustable railings.

  • Inground accessible trampoline

  • Accessible campfire experiences

  • Barrier-free dock for pontoon boat rides and canoe/kayak access.

  • Hospital beds in every cabin

  • 2 large playing fields

  • Wheelchair accessible ramps and paved walkways to all buildings

*Credit for all photos to Easter Seals Nova Scotia

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Hazel Lucas
Hazel Lucas

Great article on Camp Tidnish. I know you love it there and it was nice to see a picture of your friend Hannah.

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