There was a time when there were few, if any, opportunities for circus training. Now, camps and centers are popping up all around the Bay Area and becoming mainstream.
"I think the culture of circus arts is changing," says Abigail Baird, youth curriculum director at Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland. "I’m a circus performer and there were no circus classes when I was learning."
Circus camps, she says, offer kids a unique opportunity that you can’t find in a lot of summer programs.
"It requires a lot of risk-taking," Baird adds. "When you experience trying something that you never thought you could do, it ignites something in you. It builds self-confidence. The circus has that thrill of risk and excitement."
Here are some popular Bay Area circus camps for kids.
Kids ‘N Dance ‘N Theater Arts – Camps offered during school breaks and summer teach how to monkey around the gym with rope swings, slings and silks as well as sing, dance, act and make crafts. 3840 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 510-531-4400. 3369 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. 925-284-7388. kidsndance.com.
Kinetic Arts Center – Circo Day Camps are offered during school and holiday breaks for kids in grades first through sixth and include clowning, trapeze, juggling, acrobatics and climbing. Summer camps for ages 6-10 include stilt walking and obstacle courses. Sky High Aerial Camp for ages 8-teens include instruction in aerial hoop, rope and tissue. 785 Seventh St., Oakland. 510-444-4800. kineticartscenter.com.
Trapeze Arts – Kids ages 7-15 can attend this full-time, year-round circus school. On Fridays of camp week, campers present a circus show. 1822 Ninth St., Oakland. 510-419-0700. trapezearts.com.
University Village – This summer camp teaches circus skills with an emphasis on juggling, unicycling, stilt-walking, tandem acrobatics, clowning and more. For ages 6-11. 1125 Jackson St., Albany. 510-526-8505. universityvillage.berkeley.edu.
Aerial Dance Marin – Students learn aerial sling and aerial skills, and explore the elements of dance and how dance changes when you take it to the air. For ages 8-16. 3040 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael. 415-895-8032. aerialdancemarin.com.
888 Monkeys – Summer camps are offered for kids 8-14. The first half of the week is spent on skill development. In the second half, participants choose specialties and create circus acts for performance on the last day. Several locations offered throughout San Mateo County. 408-489-8350. fooltimecircus.org.
Peninsula Gymnastics – Circus on Stage Camp offers gymnastics, acrobatics, tumbling, circus acts and choreography; no experience necessary. For ages 3.5-12. Sessions offered in winter, spring and summer school breaks. 1740 Leslie St., San Mateo. 650-571-7555. 1171 Laurel St., San Carlos. 650-294-4650. peninsulagym.com.
AcroSports – Kids ages 6-12 can attend spring and summer camps for jumping, bouncing, clowning, juggling, dance and aerial arts. 639 Frederick St. 415-665-2276. acrosports.org.
Circus Center – Camps available to learn acrobatics, aerial skills, trapeze, trampoline and more. School holiday sessions and summer sessions are provided. 755 Frederick St. 415-759-8123. circuscenter.org.
Camp Shalom – Kids in kindergarten-second grades are offered a half day of circus activities followed by an afternoon of traditional camp activities like swimming, art and science. Kids in third through eighth grades get a full-day circus camp experience. 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 408-357-7416. campshalomjcc.org.
Cirque San Jose – Kids learn acrobatics, floor gymnastics, plate-spinning, globe-walking, poi spinning, juggling, aerial silks, aerial rope and more. Summer sessions are one or two weeks long. Open to first through 10th graders. 6148 Bollinger Road, San Jose. 408-515-6769. cirquesanjose.com.
Radical Movement Factory – Children and teens can attend summer camps for beginner to advanced levels. All camps focus on conditioning, acrobatics and aerial in a safe and supportive environment. All weeks culminate in a group performance. Wrigley Building, 2801 Mission St., Santa Cruz. 831-531-8407. radicalmovementfactory.com