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Say Cheese!

Editor’s note: This story was written by Smirkus Camp Communications & Sales Associate Brady Rainville.

Walking around camp with a camera in hand is a smile-filled experience. When one of the campers sees me peering at them with my lens, they start to showcase both their talent and their smiles. They briefly make eye-contact and pass along a message in just one quick glance. They are telling me to watch what they are about to do. With the camera on them, the spotlight is too. Knowing they now have mine, and more importantly, the camera’s attention, they look away from the lens to focus back on the task at hand. With a slight pause in order to take a breath, they begin to perform for the camera. After finishing the task that they have just executed, they look back towards my direction, with an accomplished grin and a “did you catch that?” expression on their face. I reassure them that like a skilled juggler during an act, I caught it.

Getting to spend the days capturing countless moments like the situation described above is extremely rewarding. I feel so privileged to be able to try and tell the story of camp through photographs, not to mention witnessing the incredible talent of these campers. The campers are so skilled that the pictures often don’t portray the difficulty of what is being done in them.

As someone who is new to the circus family and has no background in circus training, I decided I would try some of the skills that the campers are working on during my free moments. It did not take long for me to have an even greater appreciation for what our campers and coaches do. As the aerials coaches taught me the basics of climbing rope, it was an amusing sight, as this simple task for the campers was a true struggle for myself. Over in Natalie, the juggling tent, I received tips from campers on how to better myself with the diabolos. With these helpful campers nearby practicing elaborate tricks, my first successful catch was a moment of great pride for myself.

I amusingly looked around wondering if anyone caught what I had done on camera. I now understood why the campers are often seeking me out. I put down the diabolo, grabbed my camera, and went back to work capturing the amazing moments that these campers are having; now with a smile on the faces both in front of, and behind the camera.