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Guest Speakers

Gypsy Snider of The 7 Fingers

When one door closes another one opens” is an adage I have heard bandied around for much of my life. The adage is usually spoken when something goes wrong. I understand the sentiment behind it – we should look for the opportunities that open up around us.

With Smirkus Camp in a quarantine “bubble” this summer, the actual door to camp was closed once we had all our campers in residence at camp. The closed door meant no guests, no visitors. It also meant the guests that I had on tap to speak to campers this summer could not physically get here.

But, the virtual world provided an open door! With new technology, we had the ability to video chat with people anywhere around the world. Because so many things had been cancelled and travel has been suspended there were many people looking for things to do to fill their time. Head Coach Doug Stewart and I reached out to our connections in the professional circus world to invite guest speakers to virtually come to Smirkus Camp.

Jonathan Lee Iverson

Our series began with Gypsy Snider, parent of a former camper and trouper and co-founder of  The 7 Fingers. We followed up with a conversation with Tristan Cunningham, a former Circus Smirkus trouper and professional actress; Jonathan Lee Iverson, the first Black ringmaster for Ringling Bros. circus; Paris, the hip hop juggler; and Joy Powers, a former camper, trouper, and professional clown.

With each of our guests, the campers participated in engaging question and answer sessions. Campers had fantastic questions that led to discussions about our speakers and their topics for days after the virtual visit.

Camper Daisy had this to say after our first guest speaker: “I really enjoyed listening to Gypsy speak, because as someone who loves circus, wants to be around it, and learn new things all the time, I loved having the chance to hear about her life and all the things she had done and created. It was wonderful to hear her perspective as well – she has a lot of artistic messages and stories and hearing about all the reasons she loves circus reminded me how much I love it.”

It is great to see campers come to Smirkus Camp to get exposure to the great wide world of circus. I do hope that we are able to continue these talks in summers to come.

-William Forchion