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Circus Smirkus Camp Among the Many Summer Options in Vermont


by Carla Occaso

Photos courtesy of Circus Smirkus.
Photos courtesy of Circus Smirkus.

Although it is still cold and icy outside, early March is the traditional time to start the garden seedlings and also time for parents to plan for something for the kids to do this summer. Local camps in and around this area offer programs to nurture a wide variety of skills and interests — from baseball to dance — but one camp comes to mind when thinking of a truly unique experience: circus camp.

Circus Smirkus summer camp is celebrating its 25th year, according to Lauren Antler, director of external relations. “We have the cream of the crop of coaches and counselors. We expose kids to the magic of life in the circus and offer them life-changing adventures in the circus arts,” Antler said.

One such experienced “Smirko” has been attending Circus Smirkus camp since the age of nine. Ivan Jermyn, of Montpelier, is now 17. This year will be the second year he goes on tour with the big top troupe, which travels all over New England and New York, but he started out at the camp. Ivan juggles calmly and competently with clubs during his interview with The Bridge to demonstrate some of the skills he has learned over his years with the circus. It turns out most of the Jermyn family has been spending summers with Circus Smirkus since around 2008. Ivan’s mother, Alice, serves as nurse during circus camp. Ivan’s twin sisters, Abby and Lucy, 18, started out as campers and now they work as circus camp counselors. Ivan’s father, Michael Jermyn, is the advertising director at The Bridge and is also a musician and photographer, but he just picks them up, drops them off, and watches the shows.

Ivan Jermyn and his juggling clubs. Photo by Carla Occaso.
Ivan Jermyn and his juggling clubs.
Photo by Carla Occaso.

Ivan said he wanted to be a part of the circus ever since he saw his first Circus Smirkus show in Montpelier in 2006. “It was so interesting. I’ve always loved performing. I got into circus camp the next year after seeing the show. It was a fun and new kind of performing. Not many people do it. It is fun,” Ivan said. After being a part of the camp for a couple of years, he went on to become part of the traveling troupe. Last year they put on shows in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts. “I loved it. It was fun staying at other people’s homes. It was great seeing new places all summer,” he said. He also met people he feels certain will be lifelong friends. In order to help pay the $6,450 tuition, Ivan is advertising his services in Montpelier to stack wood, shovel snow, do yard work, clean windows, babysit, cat sit, and teach unicycling and juggling. Montpelier residents who need someone to do odd jobs may contact Ivan at jermyni@mpsvt.org.

In previous years the camp has moved around and used facilities at places like Bolton Valley Ski Resort, Sterling College, Lyndon State College and Burke Mountain Academy, but now the organization has purchased an old farmhouse, barn, and 35 acres. They are in the process of building dormitories and renovating the barn to be ready for the beginning of camp in June, according to Antler. While most of the sessions are full, there are still some available slots, so those interested in juggling, acrobatics, and clowning around can contact Circus Smirkus by going to the website smirkus.org.

Other summer programs include:

  • Barre City Recreation Department, Challenger Sports British Soccer, RLAmoury@challengersports.com
  • Also under Barre City Recreation this summer is a Harry Potter Magic Camp, Build-Your Own All-Terrain Vehicle Camp, and Crime Scene Investigation Super Science Sleuths. Call 476-0257 or emailsquaranta@barrecity.org.
  • Camp Agape at Vermont Covenant Hills Christian Camp, Cabot, 802-988-9965. info@campagapevermont.org — A free, week-long camp for children in Vermont who have experienced a parent’s incarceration.
  • Contemporary Dance and Fitness, Montpelier, 229-4676
  • First in Fitness, Montpelier and Berlin, 223-6161
  • Lotus Lake Camp, Williamstown, 433-5451, 793-4985
  • Montpelier Department of Recreation, 225-8699, pennyd@mpsvt.org
  • Mountaineers Baseball Camp, Montpelier, 223-0517
  • Shooting Star Dance Camp, Barre, 479-1293
  • Rosie’s Girls, Barre, 802- 622-0400, ext. 159, 800-639-1472 orrosiesgirls@vtworksforwomen.org
  • River Rock, Montpelier, 223-4700
  • Sunrise Gymnastics, Barre, 223-0517
  • The Wood Summer Camp, 262-6035