The Circus Arts Conservatory’s camps fuel a love of performing for kids from 5-15.
Some kids are happy visiting the circus. Others prefer to join it.
The Circus Arts Conservatory offers a Big Top experience for kids ages 5-15 with one- and two-week circus summer camps.
For many, coming to circus camp is an annual event. Ethan Kuykendall, 11, has participated for five years, which has led to a goal of one day joining the circus.
“[Being in the circus] is something that I don’t get to do every day,” he said. “But in [actuality], I do because of this camp.”
On the first day, campers sample a variety of acts before picking their top three choices.
They have a chance to try their hand at gliding through the air in a circus hammock, walking across the floor on a large cement ball known as a globe and doing ballet in the sky with the triple lyra. Afterward, the camp counselors split the performers into groups based on their top choices.
From there it’s time to get to work as the campers prepare for their end-of-the-week performance.
Giana Clark, 9, and Charley Roman, 9, decided to join the camp after seeing the conservatory’s spring show.
“We just loved it,” Clark said. “I’ve always wanted to be in the circus, and I’ve always been amazed at how circus performers act and how they do all these cool tricks. I’m amazed by that.”
Roman will spend a chunk of her summer perfecting her hammock act.
This love of the circus is how many of the counselors evolved from being campers themselves.
Jade Ortwein, 15, is a counselor-in-training who started attending the camp in second grade and joined the Circus Arts Conservatory school in fifth grade.
She said she enjoys helping with the kids and teaching them what she’s learned through the years as an aerial silks performer.
“[I’ve learned to be] more confident in myself when I’m performing and to trust myself more because that’s very important when you’re performing,” she said. “It sounds really cheesy, but I’ve learned over the years that if you think you’re going to do bad, then you’re going to do bad because you keep doubting yourself.”
Two-week sessions also feature a water day, where the kids can go on a water slide and play on the flying trapeze, and a field trip day, when they watch the Summer Circus Spectacular at the Historic Asolo Theater and visit the Ringling Circus Museum.
One thing to be sure of is that the circus summer camp program aims to make sure that “all your days are circus days.”