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barbaralois Apr 22nd, 2015 04:53 PM

youth group trip to nova scotia and prince edward island
I have been reading the forums about Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I am going to be taking 8 youth from our church youth group for a week road trip this summer. They are all just finishing 8th grade (13-14 years old). We'll be driving from New Hampshire, planning on a long day of driving the first day (June 20). We need to be home on June 26. I have an email out to them to get their thoughts on the things they would most like to see/do, but I'm imagining the Cabot Trail and Prince Edward Island will be two spots they will want to see, some beaching/swimming time, maybe some hiking. They want to camp a couple of nights so we need ideas on group camping spots and the rest of the nights we'll be looking for church floors to sleep on for free. We'll be on a pretty tight budget, but what things should we not miss? And ideas on a logical order to see things in would be very helpful. I've been looking at google maps and getting confused about routes to take once we are there.

Thanks for your help.

NorthwestMale Apr 23rd, 2015 07:39 AM

Well, I like that there is SO much <I>(free) Nature</i> in the area... though it makes me sad that <b>Hopewell Cape</b> has an admission cost associated with it.

(I arrived <U>after business hours</u> and was somehow able to go down on the beach at low tide for free) (of course that doesn't work unless the tide is out at the right time) <b>I do NOT know whether that is still possible, but at least ask somebody for current understanding as to whether you can go down on the beach at Hopewell Cape for free when there <u>after business hours</u></b>)

You don't say what town is your origin, so I'm using <i>Concord</i> for details... and indeed it is just over 500 miles to <u>Moncton, NB</u> from there.

Find a schedule for the "<u>Tidal Bore</u>" at Moncton, where you can watch <b>the river turn around and flow UP-stream</b> at a predicted/precise time. (it's free, and quite <I>intriguing</i> to SOME in the group)

And I referenced Moncton, also because that's where you take a slight side-trip to reach <b>Hopewell Cape</b>. (go there <b>at low tide</b>)

Your <I>"six days"</i> really isn't that much, to afford to zig-zag everywhere... and the impulse is to say <I>drive on toward Cape Breton first, before thinking about PEI</I>... <B>at the risk of</b> not leaving yourself much time for PEI on the way back.

I am guessing you should indeed target the Moncton area for night #1... <b>after seeing both</b> <I>Hopewell Cape</i> and the Tidal Bore, then press on toward Cape Breton (hopefully others know the camping options in that area for you) (260-ish miles, 4 1/2 hours from Moncton to the Baddeck, NS area)

You shouldn't have too much trouble making the Baddeck area by nightfall even if the timing is awkward for the tides at Hopewell Cape, early in the day.

Obviously circle the Cabot Trail...

As to PEI, <b>IF</b> you get back to there, it's a <U>great place for bicycle riding</u>, because of its gentle, rolling hills, wide open spaces, and relatively little traffic. PEI is <b>not</b> overrun by society. <b>So definitely research costs and practicality of renting bicycles on PEI</b>.

IF you don't make the most of Hopewell Cape earlier, then it is imperative that you somehow avail the group of the Fundy Tides... allowing them to walk far out on the beach at low tide (like in few other places)... <b>and, ideally</b> seeing the same spot at/near high tide (to drive-home the idea).

IF it were geographically convenient (probably not)... another <I>free</i> activity would be a hike out to <b>Cape Split, NS</b>, which after a 2 1/2-hour hike, leaves you high on a bluff out in the middle of the Minas Channel.

There is no <I>challenging</i> aspect to the hike, and <b>IF</b> you can keep the kids from daring to go too near to what are <i>obviously dangerous edges <b>well away from anywhere they NEED to be</b></i> then it would be a tame experience. (you can bring picnic supplies and have a picnic in a sheltered-from-the-wind area near the end of Cape Split.

Hope this helps a bit, though I hope others will assist you with free activities, and with camping suggestions.

barbaralois Apr 23rd, 2015 10:12 AM

Thanks for getting back so quickly. The tide times are not looking great but maybe I can rethink where to go when to see if I can make it work. I just got an email from one of the girls requesting that we go to Halifax and Peggy's Cove so there are some more things to try to work into the very short time we'll be there. Any thoughts on that?

NorthwestMale Apr 23rd, 2015 12:21 PM

Fyi, I have participated in LOTS of Nova Scotia threads here, so if you click on my name and scroll down, you'd find a collection of various thoughts and ideas.

I'm sure Halifax and Peggy's Cove will find you spending money, but hopefully you can optimize 'value' for the dollar.

NorthwestMale Apr 23rd, 2015 05:04 PM

... and wow, yes, the tide times are terrible for you, late on the 20th... <b>BUT the morning of the 21st</b> might find it quite suitable to reach Hopewell Cape somewhere near to 10:30am.

(alas, that doesn't work with regard to the <I>admission fee</i> surely applicable by then)

Is the group <b>only</b> you and 8 kids??? Or are there other adults going too? The website tells of a group rate for Hopewell Cape for groups of <I>12 or more</i>, but I wonder if MAY-be you emailed the person/contact there, whether you might be able to entice them to let the group in at the group rate.

a 10-11:00am visit to Hopewell Cape (on that Sunday morning) would still leave plenty of time for the subsequent trip toward Baddeck (if you still end up going to Cape Breton) during most/all daylight on the longest days of the year. (Sunset = 9:12pm local time that night).

I'm really not equipped for knowing what's best to see through the eyes of a 13/14yo, but I'm thinking about it. I suspect they would be <I>impressed</i> to see ocean-going ships tied to a dock <b>while resting on the ocean floor</b> at low tide! (esp. when you assure them that, 6 hours later, the boats will be dozens of feet higher, in deep water) So look for such opportunities around the Bay of Fundy. (I first saw it at <b>Alma</b>, NS myself, but you may not get there)

You can even go <b>whitewater river rafting <i>UP stream</i></b> near Truro... but that likely costs a pretty penny.

(but still, maybe just <I>seeing is believing</i>)

NorthwestMale Apr 23rd, 2015 05:07 PM

(just adding ONE idea for Halifax)

In Halifax Harbour there is a <I>passenger-only ferry</i> that goes over to Dartmouth, and it is a cute little thing, on a cute little body of water, which is worth climbing aboard just for the round-trip. And the harbourside is touristy and (pricey, in spots)...

barbaralois Apr 23rd, 2015 05:15 PM


You are incredibly helpful! There will be 2 adults and the 8 kids; a slight chance that there will be 3 adults, but probably not. I wondered about trying to get the group rate at Hopewell Cape too.

I have just been doing the mileage and times for all different combinations and can't find one that really works. We live in Hillsboro, NH by the way so it is a half hour longer than what you were figuring.

We sleep at our church in Hillsboro Friday night, June 19 so that we are packed and ready to go whenever I wake up which is usually really early. Last year I woke up at 3:30 AM, woke the kids up and we left for West Virginia with them all falling back to sleep in the van. I was by myself last year so knew I could drive as long as I needed to - it's a little more sketchy this year with another driver who probably isn't used to operating on so little hours of sleep on the church floor.

However, so what I'm wondering is if it is POSSIBLE to get from Hillsboro TO either Prince Edward Island or Halifax on the first day or FROM PEI on the last day. I haven't thought that through in terms of Hopewell Cape which I really want to do. If we could do one ridiculously long day, it would make the rest of the week better. What do you think?

ltt Apr 23rd, 2015 07:20 PM

my opinion is if you ask 8 kids their input, you are going to get 30 different things to do. realistically, in a week, you can not do cape breton, halifax, new brunswick and pei. so simplify your life and YOU narrow it down and then give the kids the options within that area. most kids that age love pei because of the beautiful beachs. so you could do new brunwick and pei. focusing on those two areas would mean short drives once you get there. obviously with all those kids, you want most of your time outside of the van. going to hopewell rocks at low tide is pretty cool. if you can return at high tide to appreciate the difference is great. Kouchibouguac National Park in new brunswick is gorgious, has a great beach and probably group campsites. in pei, go for walk through grenwich nat'l park...great beach at the end.
i would probably suggest knock capte breton off the list. it's just too far and deserves at least 3-4 days. if you decide you still want to go there, baddeck trail campground had a nice large group campsite and has a pool.
halifax would be a good city for them to see. some history at the citadel and the maritime museum is interesting. peggy's cove is close by (although i don't understand the great attraction) and the area of mahone bay and lunenberg are nice.

NorthwestMale Apr 23rd, 2015 09:54 PM

IF I were doing this <I>"crazy" (<b>IN</b> the 'fun' tone you and I would both be sensing in my words here) idea <b>alone</b></i>, I could succeed at those extra-long journeys... <b>BUT it is a fool's move to think one can succeed at it with 8 teenage kids!!!</b> (the bathroom breaks alone...)

(still a light-hearted tone when I say) "... but you <i>know</i> that"

I... am still ill-equipped to know <b>all</b> of the options available to really make fun experiences and memories <U>for young teens</u> <b>BUT</b> I am considerably confident that to begin by targeting the <I>Tidal Bore</i> (can I have a dime for each time one of the teens says <I>"tidal BORE"</i>, and double my dime if it is a male??) <b>AND THEN</b> to see Hopewell Cape at low tide (while perhaps <U>bringing photos to show Hopewell Cape at <I>high tide</u></i> for stark contrast)... <b>IS a very sensible start</b>.

(it would be doubly awesome if one could see an ocean-going vessel tied to a dock while sitting on the ocean floor, in those early stages)

... aaaaaaand I think it is prooooooobably a <I>(wrong move)</i> to try <b>both</b> Halifax <b>AND</B> Cape Breton on the same, constrained trip, esp. with PEI interests looming as well.

I still think that to envision being AT Hopewell Cape on the Sunday morning at/near 10:30 (or perhaps an hour either way?) is a good <b>vision</b> to have, thus narrowing down the remaining days, and narrowing your focus from there.

Darn, (we) just need additional input... such as <b>camp ground opportunities in the various areas</b>... and <b>things to do that young teens would really like</b>.

Who knows? Maybe there is a good camping alternative over in the <b>Kentville-Digby, NS</b> area, and maybe <I>that</i> is a direction to couple with Halifax, Peggy's Cove, and Lunenburg (by driving across <I>the middle</i> of the province).

Y'gotta understand, too, that <b><u>this is NOT the sort of road system that most are used to</u></b> where, while the rest of us sleep, trucks optimize their travel on roads built for <I>rapid transit</i>.

As Nova Scotia isn't on the <b>waaaaaaaaaay</b> to anywhere, <I>the roads are slow and lazy, while the layout of those roads isn't exactly optimal</i>.

*** once I thought I would <I>get cute</i> and take a scenic, coastal path along the Atlantic as I drove toward Halifax from the northeast... and I came around a bend, to find a <b>Ferry boat</b> crossing a tiny body of water (across which I could have hit a golf ball!) and the ferry left <u>once every hour</u>!!! (I had lucky timing)

So c'mon, being realistic...

SAY we're leaving Hopewell Cape at noon, on Sunday June 21...

You are about 3 hours from Halifax (and no, don't stop in Truro for a meal, unless you are enticed by wanting to see the <I>white water river rafting UPstream)</i>.

If you find suitable accommodations in Halifax, MAYBE you utilize them for 2 nights, just to do reasonable justice to the city. (even if you drive to Peggy's Cove for a meal - it costs too much)

So now it's the 23rd already, when you awaken in Halifax on that 2nd morning (oh yeah, check out the Citadel there, to guess whether the kids would like it)...

(IF I were driving in New Hampshire or nearby states, I might boldly drive toward Wolfville and maybe find something of interest in that general area... <b>but to do so would require a sluggish and awkward drive on small roads to get back to Truro</b>, which is the center of everything road-wise) (you <b>could tempt the troops by learning all you can about the <U>highest tide ever recorded (anywhere on earth)</b></u> back in 1869 at Burntcoat Head, NS, and take them there... (between Wolfville and Truro) but there isn't too much else of major interest in that area)

IF instead you don't dawdle... (again, having left Halifax on the 23rd)... maybe you go right to PEI via the Confederation Bridge <b>but know in advance that there is a $44.00</b> toll <U>payable (one-way and) ONLY upon <I>leaving PEI</i></u> )

Plan ahead, and maybe work-out a camping spot on PEI, <I>ideally for what would be TWO nights, just to make the camping idea seem 'real'</i> (LOL - the church floor probably seems like <I>camping</i> to most, so maybe you don't have that concern).

Look into bicycle renting/riding somewhere on PEI, as I already said...

(LOL - side note: I just noticed a place called <I>Hillsborough</i> on the way between Moncton and Hopewell Cape - I think)

OK, so, <b>Charlottetown, PE</b> to Hillsboro, NH... says <b>650 miles and 10.5 hours of <U>driving</u> time</b>

Add to that <u>the border</u>... and you have a huge challenge.

I love all of the ideas, but it is probably too much to do in too little time.

First challenge to work-on is <b>coordinating bathroom breaks</b>!!!

barbaralois Apr 24th, 2015 01:13 AM

I just read your post and I need to really think about the Cape Breton/Halifax thing. I HATE to give up on Cape Breton, but I'll rethink it all later today.

However for your thinking purposes (and since you're putting so much thought into ll of this which I really appreciate, along with the humorous remarks!) :-) - let me give you a few more details.

As long as we camp a couple of nights, we are fine to spend the rest of the time on church floors. In a lot of cases the camping is actually more luxurious with showers which we don't have in many churches around here except the bigger cities. It seemed logical to have the couple of nights camping be at Cape Breton.

I know when I say driving distances for a week with 8 teenagers it sounds formidable, but they are a part of a youth group of over 30 that do at least an overnight once a month and a week's journey somewhere once a year and these guys have all been with me for three years - this is their last hurrah party. I'm seeing this as a breeze compared to taking the whole group of 30 - there won't be any discipline issues, there won't be any whining or complaining, and they'll be up for whatever we do and however long the drives are. It's actually easier for me than driving alone because they'll keep me entertained! Basically I'll do the planning and setting up of accommodations and driving (and the other driver is one of the dads who has chaperoned with us before) and they'll do the packing and unpacking, setting up of tents, help cook, and clean up. We'll stop for bathroom breaks every 3 hours or so and time it with gas stops or food stops so that's no more issue than travelling alone as long as we stop where there are multiple bathrooms.

Most days we'll have a quick breakfast at the churches we are staying - like cereal and pastry of some sort- , pack a lunch to take with us, and cook a supper when we get somewhere for the night (camping obviously a little harder to move quickly at that). On the way there we'll probably bring bag suppers for the first day or I'll bring something that doesn't require cooking, we'll eat out one night just for the experience somewhere decent, and a fast food stop on the way home. The only other going out for a meal stop will be if one of the churches has no cooking facilities in which case we'll get pizza or something. So the expense of meals out isn't an issue really.

So that's more information for you to consider and I'll keep thinking about Cape Breton. I'd almost rather cut out the Halifax area than Cape Breton??

And again - THANKS so much for your help! IT's great to have someone to bounce it back and forth with who knows something about it. I have been to NB, NS and PEI once before but it was when our youngest son was 5 and he turns 30 this year so I'm pretty shaky on the details of that trip. :-)

barbaralois Apr 24th, 2015 02:12 AM

OH- and I read the reviews on the tidal bore and most seemed to say it was boring - any thoughts on that?

barbaralois Apr 24th, 2015 02:16 AM

And Itt - I didn't look to see that your post was from someone other than Northwestmale until just now, so sorry I sounded like I was responding just to him. The thing is that when we started discussing where to go, the kids' original idea was Nova Scotia so I don't want to cut too much of that but I can see from both of your input that I'm trying to do too much - gotta cut somewhere!

Thank you for your input.

NorthwestMale Apr 24th, 2015 05:25 AM

OK, IF the <I>tidal bore</i> were such that, say, you sat near a body of water, and <b>hoped</b> (as might be the case when whale watching)... <b>then I agree that it could be boring</b>, <I>but as this is the rare phenomenon</i> when a moving river <b>turns right around and flows UPstream, right before your eyes</b>, <U>at a DESIGNATED/SCHEDULED TIME</u>... you can afford to time things perfectly and spend a few minutes.

IF you were, say, a 75yo woman sitting alone... then perhaps not so big a deal, <b>but when in the context of the Bay of Fundy and its wild tides, the <I>tidal bore</i> helps to make young people stop and think/observe/<I>(learn)</i></b>.

Now then, let me admit that when fielding a myriad of other Nova Scotia questions from people who are driving in... I tend to suggest that the priorities are in order: <b>Hopewell Cape</b> and <b>The Cabot Trail</b> (Cape Breton)

It was only for someone in your group having talked of Halifax, that I <I>(perceived you would go there)</i>.

(LOL - a popular thing in Halifax many years ago, among teenage <b>girls</b>, was/is the grave of would-be <b>Jack Dawson</b>, from <b>"Titanic"</b> )

In truth, <i>my mind doesn't quickly envision grand ideas for young teens <u>which at the same time conform to a budget</u> in the Halifax area</i>... and you may indeed have a much better time <u>camping</u> in the north.

SO OK, if allowed to vote independently, I too would vote for <b>Cape Breton</b> vs. Halifax, for those who could only see one.

(random thought: SO at least Google <b>Pictou, NS</b> in the event that something there might be of scenic/teen interest, while you're not too far away. It's a quaint place that is popular on post cards)

Somewhere in the <b>Pictou/Antigonish</b> area may surely be suitable for a meal stop.

SO again, you're looking at 280-ish miles and 5 hours, from Hopewell Cape, NB to Baddeck, NS. That should fill much of the center of the Sunday, if that evolves to be your plan. (low tide at 10:30am, again)

The long daylight hours either allow you to stop somewhere for something, and/OR perhaps get all the way to your campground <b>and get fully set-up</b> while it is still daylight.

Sadly, it would cost way too much to ferry from Pictou over to PEI, so you'd better envision doing the bridge thing both ways, and paying the $44 toll on the way out.

OK, off to work I go...

barbaralois Apr 24th, 2015 06:58 AM

OK - still trying to salvage both Halifax and Cape Breton.

How about this itinerary:

June 20 Drive from Hillsboro to Hopewell Cape (considering we will leave in the wee hours of the morning, possibly see high tide at 3:40 PM or at least close to high tide a little later. Maybe fit tidal bore in there as well.

June 21 See low tide 10:30 AM, then drive to Cape Breton and set up camp before dark

June 22 Cape Breton/Cabot Trail

June 23 Cape Breton to Halifax (possibly also see Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg if time and energy permit)

June 24 Early start and drive from Halifax to Prince Edward Island going back and forth on the bridge

June 25 Spend most of the day on Prince Edward Island and at night drive to St John, NB just for the night

June 26 Drive from St. John to Hillsboro (the few hours the night before making it a reasonable drive home)

And including some of the places you mentioned, Northwestmale, like Pictou and Hillsborough (!) on the way through if possible.

Camping just the two nights at Cape Breton and the rest of the time look for church floors to sleep on for free.

This itinerary makes me happy, I think. It's a short time in Halifax but I mostly just want them to see a little of it.

Your thoughts now?

kgsneds Apr 24th, 2015 11:54 AM

I'm sure you are well aware of this, but just in case

(from the website for the US Embassy):

"Due to international concern over child abduction, children traveling with one parent, grandparents or other guardians should carry proof of custody or letters from the non-accompanying parent(s) authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of the child's citizenship.) Travelers without such documentation may experience delays when seeking admission to another country."

From a similar site for the boarder agency in Canada:

"Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. It is also recommended that they have a consent letter from the other custodial parent to take the child on a trip out of the country. The parents' full name, address and telephone number should be included in the consent letter.

When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as the children.

Adults who are not parents or guardians should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. The consent letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or guardian can be reached."

My understanding is that the letter needs to have signatures from both (or all) parents/guardians, and if one parent is deceased or no longer has parental rights, this should be mentioned in the letter to avoid confusion.

NorthwestMale Apr 24th, 2015 01:55 PM

Good stuff to add there, re: border protocol.

Now, as to the revisions/updates:

I do admit that to cover NS is useful when possible, for it not being ON THE WAY to anywhere, and thus not likely a place that even NH residents will often see anytime soon.

AND I myself do not mind a break-neck pace similar to that of the updated proposal.

NOR can I cite critical sacrifices you'll be making in the way of 'MUST-SEES'.

I also feel that to JUST drive around the maritimes seeing the nature out the window is of considerable value.

My only concern is my instinct to expect SOME aspects of trying to herd cats, with regard to the numerous teens.

NorthwestMale Apr 24th, 2015 02:00 PM

Oh, a favorite bit of advice I often mention here is to print the FUNDY tide tables for the ENTIRE WEEK of your stay in CASE you get a chance to drive past a spot a second time, to gain the full CONtrast. Print for Hopewell Cape, Truro, and perhaps Burncoat Head???

NorthwestMale Apr 24th, 2015 02:06 PM

Next, I hope you can make it to Hopewell Cape for that 3:40 tide, but maybe Google "Hopewell Cape sign" to drive home the ((predictable)) "hit-or-miss" aspect of targeting it. Depending on how/whether you make time enroute, maybe you can pass through Fundy National Park and Alma before or after??

And yes, the secret to fitting it all in is to leave early and keep up the pace.

NorthwestMale Apr 24th, 2015 03:22 PM

Here is the link to the sign:

It isn't like going to the movies, where if you arrive late, and miss the first few scenes, you can still make something out of it.

(*clarity: you DO have a window of time <i>after</i> the moment of low tide, but it makes sense to <b>be aware</b> of the time)

barbaralois Apr 24th, 2015 03:42 PM

kgsneds - Thank you. I DO know that but I appreciate the reminder!

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