Barrow children learn ropes at Circus Camp
Each year, children in Barrow celebrate the beginning of summer vacation with circus camp, which is held beginning the Monday after school lets out. This year, the fifth annual Barrow Circus Camp was held from May 20-31.
The camp was sponsored by the Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital Diabetes Prevention Program, Cooperative Extension at Ilisagvik College and the City of Barrow. The camp brought in professional circus arts instructors Matthew Duncan and Shelly Guy from Missouri and Maryland respectively, who served as the program's artistic directors. They worked with local aerial and gymnastics instructor Diana Solenberger, organizer and arts instructor Sandy Solenberger and five teenaged counselors to present the largest camp ever.
One hundred forty young people ages 5 to 15 juggled scarves, balls and clubs; balanced on stilts, rola bolas and the tight wire; spun plates, clowned around and laughed frequently. They balanced on each other's shoulders standing in a two-high, walked on a two-foot-diameter globe, posed on the stationary trapeze and spun in circles ten feet above the gym floor while hanging by the hand from the Spanish Web.
According to Sandy Solenberger, many parents reported what a powerful motivator circus camp is for getting kids out of bed, dressed and out the door. One 3-year-old learned to read 6 p.m. on the clock, because that was the time that his older siblings got ready to go to their 6:30 p.m. circus session and it was discussed so frequently in his presence.
Circus camp was immediately followed by a one-week gymnastics clinic taught by Diana Solenberger. Fifty young people ages 4 to 17 spent five days tumbling, balancing and practicing more advanced skills for use in cheerleading routines.
This summer, Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital and Ilisagvik College will be bringing circus camp to Nuiqsut July 8 to 13, to Kaktovik from July 14 to 21, and in Point Hope from July 23 to 29. Last year, the circus camp was in Atqasuk, Wainwright and Point Lay.