Building a Circus Village
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Head Coach Doug Stewart
Greetings from Smirkus Camp!
We’re already into the third week of camp and the days are starting to blend together. In our bubble up in Northern Vermont, we’re running on circus time. The days are long but the weeks are short and there is magic to be found in every moment.
Following the announcement that Smirkus Camp is COVID-19 free – which will forever be one of my most cherished Circus Smirkus moments – we’ve shifted gears and have implemented a new training schedule. During the first two weeks of camp, everyone was divided into pods. In their pods, campers rotated through the training areas and worked on building foundation skills in aerials, acrobatics, juggling, and performance. Now that we’re not confined to pods, we’ve transitioned into our brand new training programs featuring specialized training disciplines, non-circus electives, and coach mentors.
This summer, we’ve introduced a guest speaker series to the camp experience. So far, our campers have had the opportunity to hear from Gypsy Snyder of the 7 Fingers, as well as TV actor Tristan Cunningham, who was a Smirkus Trouper from 1995–2002. The campers got to hear their incredible life stories but they also had the opportunity to ask them questions! In addition, in our non-circus classes, campers have had the chance to learn about rigging, coaching, auditioning, physical therapy, and directing for the circus. This year, we’re taking training beyond the ring!
This summer is my 10th summer at Circus Smirkus and I can truly say that it is one of the best summers I’ve ever had. Our village is full of incredible people. We have an amazing, dedicated, talented, and hardworking group of campers. I’m amazed by the grace and precision of the training this year. We have campers doing back flips off teeter boards, pirouettes on ropes, crossing the tight wire with ease, and making up new juggling tricks. They’re taught by our world class coaches, who have performed around the world and back again. This year, the coaches are sharing so much of their stories – we’ve had two panel discussions where they’ve shared tales of triumphs and defeats, successful auditions, and on-stage slip-ups.
This year, we’ve been given the incredible gift of time. With a camp that lasts five weeks, we can share so much more with the campers. The coaches and administrative staff are bringing their stories, wisdom, friendships, and dreams. I can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish in the next two and a half weeks. See you down the road!