This morning, our whole family was up before 4 a.m. That’s rare unless there is a plane trip somewhere wonderful in the offing, but today grandson Kameron Badgers joined friends and classmates from the Lone Star Circus School to promote the annual day camp that Lone Star Circus offers kids ages 5-15 here in Dallas.
Camp is surprisingly affordable, and kids can drop in for a single day, or book one, two, or three weeks during the summer. Places are still available, but it does fill up, so if your kids want to run away and join the circus, now’s the time to sign up!
Kameron attended its pre-cursor for the first time when he was 7 — and at 14, he’s pretty sure that life as a professional circus performer is in his future for at least a few years. Granddaughter Aaliyah has attended, and while she doesn’t see herself as a professional performer, she has a great time learning new skills and just playing.
Tip for parents of 12-15 year olds who have few options for summer activities here in Dallas: Circus camp is even fun for the young teens. Kameron will miss camp this summer for the first time since it’s been offered, because he’ll be at Circus Smirkus in Vermont during one session, and he’s filming a TV series in Louisiana during another. But he’ll be taking classes whenever he’s in town this summer, so that’s some consolation.
Here’s what Kameron has learned at circus camp and circus school:
- It’s ok to try something and fall down. (And sometimes, falling down can be fun.)
- Hard work pays off. (And even if it takes you weeks to FINALLY climb to the to of the rope or silks, sliding down is fun.)
- You don’t have to be perfect. (And when you do have that perfect performance, applause feels fabulous.)
When my grandson first walked onto the floor at circus school, he was a shy little boy who would hardly look anyone in the eye, and he had absolutely no training or skills in gymnastics, tumbling, juggling, or any other performing art. By the end of camp a week later, he was happily hanging upside down from two silk panels, juggling, and showing off his new clowning, dance and hula-hoop skills. No matter what the child’s fitness level, size, age, or shyness level, I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t have a fabulous time at circus camp. They all come away proud of what they achieve.
If you watch the video of this morning’s Lone Star Texas promo, you’ll see my grandson standing behind WFAA reporter Brian Glenn juggling machetes. But don’t panic. Knife juggling isn’t part of the beginner’s curriculum at Lone Star Circus. Kameron had four years of classes and performances behind him before he picked up the knives for the first time, and when he did, former Ringling Brothers performer Nic Rainone was right next to him, making sure he was doing it safely and carefully.
As his guardian, here are the things I’ve learned about the lovely people who run Lone Star Circus.
- They put safety first. (Kameron juggles knives, walks on glass, throws himself off high platforms, hangs upside down 20′ in the air without a net and a host of other “dangerous” stunts, but only after he understands HOW, and has plenty of practice. The one time he fell during the run-through before a show, he was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t safe for him to go back up into the air, and he would be performing on the ground. Only when he was cleared, and they were sure it was safe, was he once again allowed to perform aerial stunts. And the staff beat me to him when he fell — and I was much closer. Fanny Kerwich, founder & executive director of the Lone Star Circus, got there so fast that I am convinced that she flew down to stage level from the top of the auditorium where she was watching his run-through.)
- They love kids. (I don’t know how much the teachers and instructors are paid — and I know some of them are volunteers at the not-for-profit. But no matter how much they are paid, money can’t buy the kind of support, love, dedication and care they put into every child who comes to Lone Star for a day, a week, or a semester of classes.)
- They put on one heck of a show. (The end of camp show for parents is a fun, casual affair. But kids who come for the year-round classes, put on four or five sold-out performances every spring at the Granville Arts Center, and that is anything but casual. Every performer is rehearsed, confident and costumed. It’s a glittering, professionally choreographed show that leaves people thinking they’ve just seen future Cirque du Soleil performers. That’s not a bad prediction, as several of the “kids” who were at Lone Star Circus when Kameron started are now on tour with various professional circus companies.)
Here’s the video clip from WFAA’s Daybreak show this morning. And here are some photos of the amazingly talented kids (and a couple of the adults) who got up so early to perform this morning. (Note: Truett Adams, in the sheer beige and black costume, and Sara, who is in pink, are adult performers at Lone Star Circus. Truett is also a coach and teacher.)