Children clown around at summer circus camp (video)

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

June 18, 2013 at 1:18 a.m.
Updated June 19, 2013 at 1:19 a.m.

Cirque Do A Lot campers ham it up at Gymagic.

Cirque Do A Lot campers ham it up at Gymagic.

"Toes on the line!" chanted young voices in unison as they hurried to find their places on a long strip of duct tape.

"Tallest to smallest!" shouted Mike Spiller, also known as Dr. Professor Frog Lips, who offers the summer camp, Cirque Do A Lot, at Gymagic. "Where's Fred?"

Two of the 20 children ages 5 to 14 moved apart to make room for Fred, their invisible friend.

"Hi Fred!" the children exclaimed.

Fred never makes mistakes, said Spiller, who blended in with the children in his red and yellow striped knee socks and coordinating polka-dotted bow tie.

For the past three years, Spiller, a businessman and former gymnastics instructor, has operated the camp that offers Crossroads youths a chance to learn the acrobatic skills behind circus acts.

The three-day camp, which costs $185, teaches juggling, stilt walking, tight rope balancing and aerial acrobatics.

Spiller said children enroll for various reasons - from learning new skills to getting in better shape.

"Cirque Do A Lot gives children the opportunity to follow their dreams," Spiller said.

This is the first year Emma and Anna Scarborough, 9-year-old identical twins, participated in the camp.

In a 30-minute "silks" session, the Scarborough sisters, nicknamed Pinkie and Perkie, learned to strike poses midair while wrapped in sashes suspended from the ceiling.

"Silks are more creative than bouncing on a trampoline," Emma said.

The objective is to appear straight and elegant while manipulating the way the silks are wrapped around the body, said camp counselor William Lewis, whose circus name is Willow. It requires core and upper body strength.

"I feel like I'm flying," Anna said.

Gavin Leita, 9, circus name G-Man, walked with small and fast footsteps called "happy feet" on a red globe. With rainbow-colored curly clown hair, he juggled sheer fluorescent scarves as he moved.

Gavin invented a trick using poi, which is a Hawaiian performance art that involves swinging tethered weights rhythmically in patterns. Instead, he swung them in front of his body from his sides and jumped them like a rope.

Julia Clark, 10, clown name Roo Roo, attended the camp with three of her friends. In a black derby hat, oversized yellow sunglasses and green sequined bow tie, she hobbled around on stilts fighting them with her long balloon sword.

Families are invited to a performance from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, the last day of camp. The public is also welcome. Campers will show off their new skills and dress up their family members for funny photos.

Spiller has hosted the camp in Boerne and elsewhere for 22 years. He taught gymnastics until he sold his Houston school to Bela Karolyi in 1982. He also writes activity books for school teachers.

Gymagic offers a summer camp for children through Aug. 23. Activities include a daily gymnastics class, open gym, group games, swimming, movies and field trips.



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