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Letter from the Head Coach

Circus SmirkusHello! My name is Doug Stewart and I’m thrilled, honored and extremely humbled to be taking on the role of Head Coach this summer at Smirkus Camp. My journey through the circus world started 10 years ago at Smirkus Camp. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my 10th year of circus than returning to where it all started.

For those who don’t know, here’s a little bit about me. When I was 10 years old I saw the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour for the first time and instantly became obsessed. After begging my parents, I got to run away to Smirkus Camp in 2009 when I was 13. Since then, I spent every summer at camp until 2016. During my time at Smirkus I bounced around as a camper, to CIT, to counselor, back to camper, back to counselor, to a Big Top Tour Trouper, to camp aerial coach and finally as camp head coach. Since my years at camp, I graduated from the New England Center for Circus Arts and Columbia College Chicago and have had the opportunity to perform with Chicago’s Midnight Circus and Aida Cruises. My proudest accomplishment so far is founding Cirque Us, a touring circus that was started by 8 Smirko Alumni. This year, Cirque Us preparing to take our 4thtour on the road this summer, perform our 100thshow, host over 15 workshops and offer our first summer camp in collaboration with the Upper Valley Circus Camp.

I cannot wait to return to Smirkus Camp after what feels like years away. Throughout my teenage years, Smirkus was my home away from home. It’s where I first fell in love with circus life and it’s the place where I’ve made some of my best friends to date. As a camper, I loved Smirkus because not only was it all circus all the time, but it was my first experience into a completely judgment free space, where everyone is welcome. What keeps drawing me back to Smirkus is the sense of community that not only honors the history of the previous Smirkus generations, but is constantly adapting to make room for new faces and new traditions

The Smirkus community gives a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. Everyone is working towards a common goal. Whether the goal is to create and a show for the summer, or a show for the end of camp, everyone comes together and works as a team. I return to Smirkus because you can see the magic of circus change people’s lives. Whether it’s the feeling of accomplishing a new trick that you never even knew existed, or watching someone catch a new juggling trick, or the sensation of riding a unicycle for the first time, you can feel the magic in those moments. It’s the feeling that you can accomplish anything, realizing that hard work pays off, and believing that anything is possible. Now take all of those magical moments and multiple them by the hundreds of campers that pass through our tents, mix them with friendships and laughter, and add a bit of mischief and a pinch wonder and you get Smirkus. The most magical place in the world.

I am so excited for Smirkus this season! Not only have I missed it like crazy, but there are so many new and exciting things happening in our little corner of Vermont. We have a brand new leadership team and lots of new staff members. Over the last few months we have been hard at work planning an incredible summer. Camp will be filled with lots of new faces this year bringing new energy and new skills to share! While I have many goals and aspirations for the summer, my main goal is for Smirkus to continue to be the most magical place in the world, not only myself, but for all of us who get to call our Big Tops home this summer.

I can’t wait to see you this summer!


Doug Stewart
Head Coach – Smirkus Camp