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From Trouper to Counselor: Lindsey Barrows

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Tour Communications Intern Teagan Allen

Lindsey Barrows is one of this year’s fantastic Smirkus Tour counselors.  One of the things that makes her a great counselor is that she was a Smirkus Trouper.  From the ages of 15 to 18, Lindsey went on tour and experienced Smirkus magic through being a performer and trouper.  Now, she is helping create magic for troupers as a counselor.  In this conversation with Lindsey, learn about where her experience as both a trouper and counselor intersect.

When you were a trouper did you want to be a counselor?

“So, when I was a trouper and I looked at all the different staff positions, that were here there was no a single one I wanted but a counselor, and I wanted that aggressively.  I wanted to be a counselor so badly.  Just being able to be with the troupers, getting to be a part of jump days, and getting to connect with them in a non-circus environment seemed so great.  I grew up doing circus, so I liked the option  to opt in and out of that world without having to put together an act.   Even as a trouper, I wanted to come back as a counselor to be here for the ‘hang’.”

How has being a trouper affected your counseling skills?

“I think I understand the tradition aspect in regard to things that make the experience so unique and special.  Things within the troupe happen behind the scenes that the staff isn’t present for.  Because I know about a lot of this, I can help from a staff perspective support what goes on in the troupe dynamics without having to be there.  I can be more sympathetic and empathetic in regards to the feelings of what it’s like to be a trouper.”

What have you learned about the trouper experience from being a counselor?

“I think the biggest thing I learned was how much the rest of the staff really cares about the trouper’s experience.  I think when I was a trouper, I was concerned that the staff thought less of us because we were kids.  I came to learn that couldn’t be further from the truth.  When I came on staff I realized how everyone is here for them, just like I am.  That was a really cool thing to learn from behind the scenes.”

Have you taken anything from the counselors you had when you were a trouper and applied them to the type of counselor you are?

“Certainly, when I was a trouper some of my counselors were caught up in their own experience, so they didn’t think as much about the trouper’s experience.  So when I came back I made sure I was coming back for the trouper and not for myself.  I’m the side character in their journey and I’m here to support that.  I also had a lot of counselors who were very good at receiving information and being mindful, not reactionary.  They were very good at being open and receptive, which allows torupers to feel comfortable coming to them.  I try to emulate these characteristics as much as possible.  Another big thing is mutual respect.  Even though the troupers are younger, they are people and should be treated that way.  Counselors should have people to people relationships with them, I’m here for them, not to power trip on them.  Those were the best counselors I had, the ones that I felt some kind of friendship with, while still respecting their position as counselor.”

If you were a counselor to your trouper self, what would you tell her?

“As a counselor, I would try to say more positive things to myself as a trouper.  I would tell myself “Its okay, you’re doing okay”.  There was a lot of pressure that came with being a teenager and being a trouper, like “am I doing this right”.  I didn’t share all these concerns with a counselor, but just a general affirmation that I was doing just fine, would have helped me in an environment like this where so much is going on.  Because of this, I try to say these things to current troupers who may be thinking the same things I was at the time.”

Overall, how is being a counselor?

“Oh, I love it.  I’ve been having a great time, it’s my dream job.  I love being here, even though it’s a challenging job, because of my experience being a trouper I knew it was going to be hard, and it is but it’s also so rewarding.”