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Why I Come Back to Smirkus Every Summer

Editor’s note: This post was written by Salima Sarken, 5th time Smirkus Camper. 

Salima (bottom right) with campers in a pyramid

When I first got to Circus Smirkus Camp, I felt excited and scared. I was seven years old and it was my first time at overnight camp. However, everyone was smiling and welcoming and as soon as I got in the tents, I was having too much fun to miss home. I remember sitting on the trapeze for the first time and feeling really brave and happy.

2019 is going to be my fifth summer at Smirkus Camp, and camp now feels like a second home to me. Here’s why I come back every summer: the people, the circus, and the vibe.

The circus activities are the best part of my day. The coaches have been very encouraging and have cool things to learn for all levels. I continue to be challenged each year, no matter how much I have learned since last summer.

Salima learning trapeze


Juggling is still my hardest rotation, but the other campers and coaches have been super supportive and encouraging of my learning. My favorite rotation is aerials and I love being upside down. At camp, I have tried so many things including tightwire, clowning, sling, unicycle, wacky-tramp, and pear-shaped lyra and have enjoyed them all.

Some of my favorite choice times have been clown jam and aerial meditation which I wish everyone could try because it is so relaxing after a busy, circus-filled day. I love working with other campers to create the end-of-camp show and I especially like working on pyramids with my fellow campers. I come back to camp for all these circus adventures and more.

Picking wildflowers at Smirkus Camp

The afternoon and evening activities are a terrific and often giggly change of pace. My favorites are Staff Hunt (which is where all the staff hide and we get points for finding them), Gold Rush (which is where the staff hide rocks of different colors), Staff Show (where the staff perform for us), and the end-of-session dance. One of my best camp memories was going out to the field with my counselor and a few
other campers to pick wildflowers and then making flower crowns.

Dinner dress-up is a high point of each day for me. There are lots of different themes such as pirates vs. ninjas (I’m usually a ninja); under the sea (I like to dress as an octopus); and animal, vegetable, or mineral (one year I wore my purple bathrobe and was an eggplant).

It is always great to meet new campers and to see returning ones again. I met one of my best friends at camp and we’re looking forward to coming back together. The staff are super supportive too; they are very kind and sweet and helpful when I miss home or when I’m sleepy in the morning. (I’m not a morning person.) I feel like I really belong at camp. I hope to see you there!

P.S. I liked camp so much that I even convinced my parents to go to Adult Camp and they loved it.

Circus Smirkus Camp

Salima (left) in a group aerials performance