Downtown Community Circus Camp

Organization Sponsor: Red Deer, City

Organization Partner: Red Deer, City Recreation, Parks & Culture


Program Description

Between August 25 and 27, you may have seen Red Deer's youth juggling, unicycling, and tight rope walking as they participated in the first ever Community Circus Camp. The City of Red Deer Social Planning and Recreation, Parks and Culture departments partnered to develop the camp in response to the Diverse Downtown Programming Opportunities Project (DDPOP) report, which looked at effective programming opportunities for people living and working in Red Deer's downtown area.

"The report stresses the importance of outcomes measurement and using existing downtown resources, including social agencies, to enhance leisure opportunities," said Linda Carritt, Community Facilitator, The City of Red Deer.

Over 50 participants took part in the three-day event, ranging in age from nine to 14. Approximately half of the participants were referred by six community social agencies and were sponsored by The City's Strategy Fund for Children and Families through the Social Planning department.

Instruction at the camp was led by four circus artists: Flyin' Bob Palmer, Randall Fraser, Chris Taylor and Brian Work. "We were fortunate to have Flyin' Bob, a renowned street performer and talented Circus Camp Director, approach The City with this project idea," said Carritt. "Bob has directed similar successful camps cross Canada and wanted to bring this positive, self-esteem building experience to Red Deer's children."

The Local 1190 Red Deer Firefighters Community Fund was a sponsor of the program, providing t-shirts for all the children.

"We hope this is only the first of many activities utilizing existing downtown resources," said Carritt.
"Thank you to everyone who assisted in making this event a success and we hope to see you again next year."

Program Approximate Cost: 


Funding Sources: 

City of Red Deer, The City's Strategy Fund for Children ,Families through the Social Planning Department,The Local 1190 Red Deer Firefighters Community Fund

Strategies For Sustainability: 

The most important is having experienced and skilled instructors. Community partnerships is essential. It is hoped that a local agency will take this over and run it annually.

Impact Of Program: 

Fifty youth ages 9-14 participated for 3 days in this circus camp. This camp became the center of attention and involved the whole community. This camp helped many youth become more confident and some kids now busk at the local farmers market and enjoy this as a part time job.

Evaluation Tools: 

Pre and post evaluations were done by a paper survey. The youth seemed nervous about event ahead of time but in the post evaluation they were thrilled and much more confident.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

The key for success was the camp director Flyin' Bob Palmer who had the knowledge to hire other instructors and the types of activities the youth would like. This camp was days long and 25 out of 51 were subsidized by the town. Others paid a fee of $75.00. All youth were given T-shirts so that the poorer kids had the same look as the richer ones. Twelve volunteers also helped. Registration happened through the local recreation department. More youth responded than the event could handle and a waiting list was required. The last day a group performance was enjoyed by the community.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

The cost of transportation and hotel for the instructors was the most expensive part of the event. Getting insurance coverage in the beginning was hard because people were not sure of the risks involved. In the end the camp instructor's insurance was used. This event involved a lot of preparation time and a fair amount of paperwork. In the first year the camp was held during the summer. This interfered with some peoples holidays so the event was tried during a PD day (Friday) plus the weekend. This worked well.

Length and Stage of Project: 

This event has been repeated every year except one and has become an annual community event.

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