Why Running Away with the Circus was the Best Way to Travel

I genuinely could not believe that I was hanging from the ceiling by my wrist, being spun round and round at top speed, wearing a sparkly blue leotard – this was not how I imagined my summer in America to be ending! But I guess this is what I get for running away with the circus!

running away with the circus

Welcome to life in Circus of the Kids, or as I call it – my best summer ever!

I often wonder if I’m the only person to have joined the circus accidentally, because that’s exactly what happened to me in the summer of 2013. I was a second year student at University in Liverpool, finally turned 21, and had decided to spend the summer working as a camp counsellor in America. So, like many before me, I signed up to Camp Leaders in the hopes of finding a job. If you don’t know, Camp Leaders is a company you can pay to find you a work placement at an American summer camp. There’s quite a few similar companies out there, but I heartily recommend these guys. It was extra helpful for me, as they have offices in Liverpool. I carefully filled in my online profile, being sure to make it clear just how awesome I was, and then I waited…

One day, the email came through that I had been waiting for – a camp was reviewing my profile! This was it – I really was going to get to work at a rustic sleepaway camp in America and then….oh. They rejected me. I’ve never been one to take rejection well (does anyone?) and this was no different. I just kept telling myself:

“This happened for a reason. It happened because something better is going to come along”

I almost believed it

And then, it really, really did.

running away with the circus

Running away with the circus

I was offered a place at Circus of the Kids, to spend the summer touring the east coast of America teaching circus skills to kids! I was over the moon – what an adventure this would be! There was one small problem that was niggling at me though… I didn’t have any circus skills to teach.

running away with the circus

A few months later and I was meeting up with Joey (another new recruit) at Manchester airport, ready to fly all the way to Texas to officially run away with the circus. This wasn’t exactly the original plan – but hey, I love a good adventure!

Getting Started!

The first two weeks were spent learning how to use ALL the circus equipment. It was tough, hard work, but it was so much fun as well. We were all staying in a big youth centre – just the circus crew, so we had loads of time to bond and get to know each other. Which was good, as you definitely end up touching places you probably shouldn’t when trying to make sure no-one hurts themselves during circus training. During these two weeks I realised just how unfit I was. I couldn’t even climb a rope, let alone pull myself up on a trapeze…

running away with the circus

For the first week of teaching (and most weeks after that) I was in charge of teaching High Wire, Tumbling and Triple Lyra. Throughout the summer, I also had the chance to teach: Fabric, Hand Balancing, Hoop, Clown and Ringmaster.I had such a blast getting to work with so many different kids from different backgrounds, different ages and different abilities. I also had the time to improve my own circus skills after teaching had finished.

running away with the circus

Daily Life

Every week would follow a similar routine for us: drive to a new state; unload the trucks; hold auditions; cast (until midnight); start rehearsals (about 3 days); show time(!); load up the trucks; drive to the next state. Days off were sparse, we had at least one every fortnight, sometimes more. We were busy everyday, and I loved it! Days off were spent exploring whichever state we happened to be in: Nashville, TN; Washington DC; NYC; Universal Studios, Florida.

running away with the circus

Circus = Travel!

When the summer tour had ended, I had just over a week before I had to fly back and go back to Uni. So I spent some time in New York City and then on to New Orleans. This really was the most amazing experience of my life. Not to sound cliche, but I learned so much about myself, and what I’m capable of. It made my realise that I could go out and explore the world, I could live my dreams. Since coming back from America I have traveled to both Nepal, and Japan by myself to live and work there. If it wasn’t for Circus of the Kids, I wouldn’t be sat here writing anything on this blog. So, THANK YOU Circus of the Kids – You made me who I am today.

If you’re in the UK and want to join, or in America and want to learn some circus skills, check out the website here:

http://www.circusofthekids.com/

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  • MariaAbroad

    Wow, what an adventure. This must have been an epic summer for you that will always stay in your memory. What a great opportunity to do something so fun. You are right, sometimes things have to go wrong, before an amazing opportunity like this has a chance to come along. Good things come to those who wait and this was definitely worth waiting for.

  • I think this sounds like a much better experience seeing the country instead of just being in the middle of the forest not close to anything stationary at one summer camp. Seems like a great experience for the kids too, I wish I had gone to circus camp! I wonder how many kids you taught actually ran away to the circus later in life? lol

  • Amazing experience and why wouldn’t you grab it with both hands. We don’t have camps/summer camps here.

  • Scrapbookjourneys

    Oh wow! What an inspiring story! And the adventure too-love it! I have never been to the circus, perhaps one day along my travels, I will 🙂
    I am happy to inform you that I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. You can read more about the nomination here:
    http://www.scrapbookjourneys.com/2016/05/28/double-liebster-award-nomination/

    Congratulations!:)

  • So sorry that Camp Leaders didn’t come through but look what great stories you have now and a sense of accomplishment. I love that you taught at a Circus School. Well done.

  • Sounds like a really fab way to travel – I had heard about American summer camps as they’re a huge thing to do for your gap year here in Aus, though I hadn’t heard that joining the circus was an option … how fun! Very cool too that you can go into it without necessarily any specific skills but come out knowing the ins and outs. Awesome experience and great way to travel!

  • That is pretty epic. Looks like a great time. It woulda been cool if you had a little more time to see more of the cities you were in, but a glimpse into it all is great.

  • Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

    Omg what a fun opportunity! I would love to do something like this. I really enjoy working with kids. Thanks for sharing!

  • What an interesting adventure! Sometimes the best adventures are the unexpected ones , and it sounds like this was no exception! I can imagine it would be difficult to learn all the different types of tricks/activities in a couple of weeks, but it sounds like you pulled it off! Nice job!

  • What a great opportunity! Seems like a pretty nice and epic way to travel. Not everyone can say they traveled to teach others circus skills. So cool!

  • Must have been an amazing time. I could think of doing something like this though even when they would teach me everything up front, I’m not that flexible 😉