We're just trying to give kids a moment where they get applause or where they feel really strong and good about themselves.
—Neal Rempel, C.A.M.P. Tour Manager
Students from across Winnipeg are stepping into the ring this week, learning to become variety performers. It's part of the Circus and Magic Partnership (C.A.M.P.) taking place druing spring break at Gordon Bell High School.
Leo hangs on silk ropes (CBC)
invented as an artistic intervention for youth-at-risk," explains ringmaster Neal Rempel, who is the C.A.M.P. tour manager. "We're offering an
alternative to sport-based programs and giving kids a chance to be
successful at something. In this case we're using circus arts as the delivery."
Students are learning to ride a unicycle, walk a tight wire, juggle bowling pins, stilt-walk, swing on a trapeze and climb silk ropes. There are also magic workshops and costume making offered by Art City. And by all accounts, the kids are loving it.
11-year old Sarah calls it "a chance to make friends and have fun."
"You get a lot of exercise, you can make a lot of new friends," enthuses young Leo. "You are indoors, but there's a lot of physical stuff, you can work on balance. It helps for stage fright because you're always up on stage. So yeah, it's a good camp."
Patrick is all smiles (CBC)
11-year-old Patrick was nervous at first, because there were so many kids and he was afraid of failing, but in the end he admits "It's been a really fun experience. Everyone is nice. I can't wait for next year."
"We're just trying to give kids a moment where they get applause or where they feel really strong and good about themselves," says Rempel. We see a lot of happy, smiling faces through the week which is the most rewarding thing about it."
Students will present their Greatest Show on Earth to parents and family on Friday afternoon.
The program also spends a week in a different northern community each year where students are bussed in from other reserves and communities.
C.A.M.P. is spearheaded by the Winnipeg International Children's Festival
. This year's Kidsfest runs at The Forks June 7 - 10, where children will have a chance to reprise their circus show.