Thirty kids from ages 3 to 16 balanced, juggled and tumbled during Salida Circus’ summer camp last week.
The camp culminated with a performance Friday, allowing the kids to show off some of the skills they learned for a crowd. Some of the kids threw backflips, rode around on unicycles or did the splits. Others did backflips with their balloon animals and spun plates around on a stick.
The kids also got to play on a new swinging trapeze rig during the camp and then show how high they could swing in the performance.
“It took us a few months to get it ready for training, but we aimed to get it set up by camp and we did,” said circus founder Jennifer Dempsey. “The kids were thrilled. We’re so excited to have a brand-new training space, new rig and new Astroturf. It’s been great.”
Six tutors, two interns and a volunteer helped out with the camp. The tutors were Joe Lobeck, Joan Lobeck, Susan Jones, Natalie Keller, Rama Yigit and Laura Hart. Joey Holt, an intern from the Cincinnati Circus School, also helped out.
“I have the best tutor team you could ask for,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey said the community also helped out with the camp. Some donated snacks while Monarch Community Outreach donated $1,300 to provide scholarships to help kids attend the camp, among other things.
Monarch Community Outreach Vice President Susan Boucher said the nonprofit organization’s three areas of focus are community programs, humanitarian and families in need.
“Something like this is a perfect fit,” Boucher said. The organization’s money comes from Monarch employees through payroll deductions, which is then matched by Monarch Mountain.
Contributions like that help make Salida Circus inclusive.
“As a social circus, Salida Circus does not turn anyone away due to inability to pay,” Dempsey said. “We manage to do this by keeping our prices low and by the generous support from local donors. It is not uncommon for someone to see one of our shows and email us to say they want to sponsor a young participant, or that they have a unicycle to donate or costumes or a slack wire.
“The support from the Chaffee County community has been incredible, and this is how we are able to make it so inclusive. Along with the skills training, the most important thing for Salida Circus is making everyone feel they are an important part of the circus family.”