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History of the Tents at Smirkus Camp

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Smirkus Camp Communications Intern Spencer Hovel

You may have heard of the awesome power of “Smirkus magic.” Whether or not you are familiar with Smirkus magic, I am here today to explain that a large part of that magic is often attributed to the magnificent and colorful big top tents here at camp. The four tents at camp this year are named Mama Mia, Natalie, Millie, and Ruby. They each house a specific discipline of circus here at camp: Aerial Arts, Acrobatics, Juggling, and Clowning/Performance respectively. Each tent has their own unique history as well as their own patterns, and colorings. All these factors come together to create four special tents with magical personalities. 

The story begins in 1990 when Smirkus Camp started at the Circus Barn in Greensboro. It moved to many different boarding schools at locations around Vermont and New Hampshire. During this period circus training happened mainly in gymnasiums. In 2002 Smirkus Camp moved to Craftsbury and that is when we started training in tents!

Mama Mia

Mama Mia is the aerials tent and is also where the camper talent show, lip sync battle, staff show, and end of session camper show happens. The tent is characterized by its 4 main poles which poke out the top of the tent and surround the ring curb on the inside. The tent has a blue and white striped top and yellow valance above the side walls. The sidewalls are blue and white with yellow and green stars.

On the inside the tent is blue and there are stars on the ceiling. Mama Mia is very similar to the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour’s big top tent “Chapiteau.” Mama Mia was born in 2002 so we are coming up on her 20 year anniversary! The story behind the name Mama Mia is that apparently when it was first being set up someone said “Mama mia! That’s a big tent!”


Natalie is the acrobatics tent at camp. This tent is characterized by its warm yellow and red colors. The tent has two large king poles and the tent features arch shaped depictions on the side walls. The inside of Natalie is blue like Mama Mia. Natalie was designed and purchased around 2002 from Erik Jaeger who was Smirkus’s tent boss at the time. Natalie is named after Erik’s daughter.










Lottie & Millie

Most years the juggling tent at camp is Lottie, named after Lottie Brunn, a famous juggler. This year Lottie is with the Smirkus InTENTsive so instead we have Smirkus Tour’s concessions tent Millie.

Millie is named “Millie” because it is the “midway” tent on tour. Lottie came to camp around 2006. Lottie is a blue and white tent with two king poles. Millie is blue and white striped as well and also has a blue inside with stars just like Mama Mia and Chapiteau. 







The clowning and performance tent at camp is called Ruby. Ruby is named after former Camp Head Coach Danny Frank’s daughter Ruby who is a current Smirkus trouper!! Ruby grew up at camp and she was a baby when they named the tent after her.

The tent is characterized by its red and white stripes which makes it the brightest tent to be in at camp. Also when the tent flaps are up you get a beautiful view of the Vermont mountains/hills.