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Letter from a Trouper: Frederick Buford

Editor’s note: This post was written by Frederick Buford, longtime Smirkus Camper and 1st year trouper. 

WATCH: Here is Frederick’s fall audition video for the 2019 Big Top Tour, which includes footage of his summers spent at Smirkus Camp.

When I first arrived at the magical Circus Smirkus Camp in 2016, I had no idea that, three years later, I’d receive a call saying I would be accepted to perform on the Big Top Tour. I’ve loved circus for as long as I can remember.

I was first introduced to circus when I lived in France and got to see one that came to our town annually. Sitting behind that magical ring curb, I immediately fell in love with the clowns, and that was when I decided that I would become one. Flash forward seven years, my family and I decided that maybe I should get some circus training, considering that, up until then, I was purely self taught. So, after doing a little research, we found Smirkus Camp.

Smirkus Camp

Frederick clowning at Smirkus Camp

That summer, I packed my bags, and drove up to Greensboro, Vermont, to arrive at camp. I was immediately greeted and welcomed by countless coaches, counselors, and everything in between. I knew I had found a place where I belonged. It was the most fun, exciting, and exhausting two weeks of my life. I was coached in clowning, juggling, acrobatics, aerials and more. I stayed for two weeks, although it felt like two days.

Around the middle of camp, we went on a field trip to go see the Big Top Tour. Being from out of the area, I had never seen a Smirkus show, and didn’t know what to expect. We all sat in the bleachers together, eager to see the spectacle of tumblers, aerialist, clowns and jugglers that would soon pour out of that magical curtain. And before we knew it, the lights had dimmed, the music had come on, and the show had begun. There they were. The thirty or so young troopers performing incredible death defying feats. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was hooked. I was going to do everything in my power to be one of them.

I came back the next summer even more eager and excited than the previous. I couldn’t wait to be reunited with the great friends I had made the past summer, but more importantly, I couldn’t wait to get back into those majestic circus tents and start training. I was going to work as hard as I could, and learn as much as I could in the three weeks that I would be there. Once again, I got to to see the Big Top Tour, and once again, I was awestruck. That summer was even better than the last.

Smirkus Camp

Getting a belly laugh at Smirkus Camp

This past summer, I went back to camp for a jarring five weeks! I built strong relationships with more campers, coaches, and counselors. I gained so much more performance experience that summer, and I learned so, so much. I spent countless hours in the clown tent, training with the best of the best, improving my skills, and learning new techniques. I am infinitely grateful to my coaches, counselors, and all of the Smirkus Camp staff, for inspiring me, coaching me, talking to me about their experiences in the circus world, and for granting me a summer that I will never forget.

This fall, I sent in an audition video to the directors of the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour. I was then invited to audition in person in Brattleboro, Vermont this past January. After an intense three day audition weekend, I got the call saying I had been accepted to the 2019 Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour: Carnival. I am so, so grateful to everyone in this wonderful organization, and none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t gone to Circus Smirkus Camp.

Thank you,
Frederick Buford

Frederick Buford Smirkus Camp

Frederick at Smirkus Camp with a friend