My daughter attended Smirkus camp for three years and performed with the Big Top Tour for five years. We saw her develop from a shy little girl to a poised, talented young woman. She also gained many life skills, as troupers are engaged in many behind-the-scenes chores. Smirkus gives these kids tremendous opportunities and prepares them for life. But beyond those who participate, Smirkus also brings joy to the tens of thousands of people who see the Big Top Tour, go to camp (as camper or staff), or participate in a wonderfully educational and exciting school residency. It is a not for profit organization that instills strong values and engages people in its important mission. The staff and volunteers are incredibly dedicated and hard working and are passionate about the organization and its mission. It's often said that Smirkus is magical, and it's true!
I have been invovled with Circus Smirkus as a parent of a camper who then became a trouper and stayed with it for some ten years. I then joined the board and have been with the board for almost eight years. So from 1993 to the present, I have been involved in some way or another. I have had the great pleasure to see many troupers grow in oh so many ways and watch Smirkus emerge as a real leader in the youth circus field.
I first experienced Circus Smirkus 11 years ago as a prent taking my young daughter to a Big Top tour show. The whole family was blown away! The kids who were performing showed such incredible energy and joy! My daughter said then and there, "Dad, I want to do that!" Soon after, she began attending Circus Smirkus summer camps. My wife and I were very pleased and impressed by the high standards for fitness and nutrition at the camps as well as the great pleasure and satisfaction our daughter derived from attending them. A few years ago, she decided to try out to become a Big Top Tour Trouper. Her experience on tour for the last two summers has been just plain wonderful and I have continued to be impressed by the fact that the joy and exuberance I noted 11 years ago is still a feature of each performance. I volunteered at just about every show I could manage to attend. I witnessed the wide-eyed wonder of the kids in the audience, the smiling parents, and the hard work by everyone associated with the show. I was impressed to learn that, not only does the Tour act as a fund-raiser for a variety of local non-profit sponsors, but the Troupers even give short impromptu shows at various locations their route - for example Paul Newman's "Hole in the Wall Gang" camp for kids with cancer and other serious illnesses. Last summer, I was asked to join the Board of Directors, and although I realized it would be a serious time commitment on my part, I did not hesitate to say yes. As a Board member, my view of the organization broadened and I could see the other ways Circus Smirkus touches people's lives. One of the programs visits schools throughout the northeast for short "residencies," where the kids are taught some simple circus skills as a way of encouraging fitness. The more I have seen of Circus Smirkus, the more imprssed I have become. It is a jewel of an organization!