What to Pack for Circus Smirkus Summer Camp

I have a head cold. Probably from getting caught in the rain at Bastille on Bishop, but I still had fun. But I am having a good day, packing for my trip to Circus Smirkus.

Camp starts on Sunday, July 20 — and I leave on Saturday, July 19. There aren’t many flights from Dallas to Burlington, Vermont, and then it’s a two and a half hour drive from Burlington to Circus Smirkus. So I have to actually arrive the day before, because I couldn’t get there in time for the opening activities on Sunday. Same thing on the way home — I have to stay over after the final show because there aren’t any flights home until the next afternoon.

But it’s cool — I love Vermont, and I love Circus Smirkus. And arriving a day early gives me lots of time to meet everyone and get set up.

So I’m spending the day packing all the important stuff for Circus Smirkus camp. This is my second year to go to the best circus summer camp in the world, so I have a better idea of what to pack than I did last year. The camp handbook lists all the things you really need (sheets, towels, swimsuit, performance and rehearsal clothes, shorts, t-shirts, etc.), and some optional items you can pack “if you already own them”, including “Costume items for nightly dinner dress-ups (ex: superhero, pirates, decades).”

Ha! As if you wouldn’t want to bring as many costume items as you can fit into your bags!

We “dress up for dinner” at Circus Smirkus, and that doens’t mean wearing a suit and tie.  It means wearing the most outrageous costumes you can come up with, and sharing with your friends to make new combinations every night.

The nightly dinner dress-up and costume contest is one of the most fun things at camp. Last year, I saw kids who had three big bags with them — two of them filled with costume pieces to mix and match and share, and one smaller bag with all their clothes.

Last year, I took three or four things, but I learned my lesson.  I’m not quite packing more costumes than clothes, but I am DEFINITELY taking more costume pieces than I did last year.  I bought some of them when costumes went on sale after Halloween, saved the ones from last year, and picked up some pieces here and there all year. (Magic, Etc. in Fort Worth is this huge, amazing costume shop: a trip there is absolutely essential a couple of weeks before I leave for camp every summer.)

Here are a few of the items I’m packing this year:

  • Pig, pirate, steam-punk, super-hero, and 60’s rock star costumes.
  • Lots of hats (an alligator, a top-hat adorned with a skull and a spider, several others)
  • A sequined blazer and two sequined vests — don’t know what I’ll use them for, but somebody will have an idea and they’ll make killer costumes when we’re done.
  • A dragon-claw ring made out of chain mail that covers one whole finger.
  • Lots of sun-glasses, beads, belts, scarves and small items that can be used for different things.

Sure, I’m packing all the stuff the camp handbook asks for, but if you’re going to Circus Smirkus for the first time, don’t overlook the line in the hand-book about costume pieces. It’s loads of fun to get with your roommates and come up with outrageous costumes.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget your tutu — on TuTu Tuesdays, everybody at camp wears a tutu. Yes, boys (and grown men) too.  Mine is purple.  What color will yours be?

What to pack for Circus Smirkus

I’m filling one bag with camp essentials: sheets, towels, blankets, sequined jackets, pirate and superhero costumes — and a great pig costume.

What to pack for Circus Smirkus

Circus Smirkus packing tip: Pack lots of small things that can be used for different kinds of costumes. Hats, glasses, jewelry and accessories, capes, scarves, belts, etc. That way you and your roommates can share items for some really killer costumes. And you can buy this kind of stuff really cheap after Halloween, so plan ahead for next summer — I did!


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