Circus camp provides creative outlet for kids
- Andréa Ledding | April 10, 2016
Eryka Kay first heard about Circus Camp from a form at her elementary school. What most interested her?
“That we were going to learn about how to perform circus.”
With no prior experience, Eryka joined the camp March 28 - April 1 at North Park Wilson School with a hundred other students from five different public schools, learning special skills from a qualified team of circus arts professionals.
“I learned how to walk on stilts and how to do rola-bola and a whole lot of other things.”
Stilts was her favourite activity, but she didn’t hop on and take off on her first try.
“It took practice. My instructor told me to keep trying and I did.”
And that persistence is her takeaway from circus camp as well as her advice to other kids: “Don’t be afraid to learn something new, keep trying.”
Circus Camp is the most intensive component of a larger Circus Arts Project developed over the last seven years, including in-school residencies by Flyin’ Bob Palmer and James O’Shea, and development of circus arts clubs at designated schools with regular practices throughout the year. Eryka is one of over 1100 students to participate in the past two years alone. The expectation is participants will take skills and accomplishments back to perform and share with other students.
Social circus uses circus arts to nurture self-esteem and trust among youth, providing an outlet for creative expression and a sense of accomplishment in overcoming challenges. Circus camp director Flyin’ Bob Palmer says, “The kids have a great time, learn skills that less than 1% of the population have, and come to realize they have the ability to excel in an area they never would have considered.”
This includes tightwire, barrel walking, rola bola, juggling, unicycle, stilts, clowning, diabolo, aerial silks and hoop, balance, magic, and acrobatics. On the fifth day, students showcased their new skills at a public performance. Besides the public schools, sponsorship was provided by Canadian Tire Jumpstart, with support from Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation and Creative Kids.
Head magician Malcolm Russell says it’s rewarding to see shy kids light up at applause, or discover new talents and abilities.
“It’s a very warm, supportive, friendly environment,” Russell noted, adding the experience is something kids will never get anywhere else. “Not just the environment but the access to the tools and the equipment and the level of instruction.
“It’s something that I would recommend to every child even if they have no interest in being a performer. Just come and play.”