Next time your kid says he wants to join the circus, think twice before you burst out laughing.
I just returned from a vacation in the Florida Keys and Sarasota, which was home for many decades to the Ringling family of circus fame. The Ringling estate is one of the area’s top tourist attractions. One ticket will get you access to two Circus museums, the opulent Ringling Museum of Art and the family’s decadent bayside mansion.
But circus life is not just in Sarasota’s past — the legacy continues among the town’s youth.
Sailor Circus, founded in 1949 as a Sarasota High School program, is open to students ages 8 to 18. Now operated by the Police Athletic League of Sarasota, the program aims to teach students the skills and responsibilities of the circus. But it’s not all trapeze and tumbling, set preparation and selling snacks. They students also learn the trust, drive and cooperation needed to accomplish goals.
Sailor Circus no doubt has launched a few high-flying careers. But more importantly, it has helped some at-risk youth gain the confidence and determination to turn their lives around.
What do you think about such a program? Could it work here? We aren’t a circus town, but there is a huge rodeo culture here. How about a Cowboy Camp that teaches bronc riding and barrel racing to less advantaged youth?