I was reminded of that line from the British Film “The History Boys” by something my oldest friend Colin said. That’s Colin who shared my early school days and holidays, sunbathing and skinny-dipping in the Cherwell near Oxford, Colin who introduced me to the great sport of gymnastics. Colin who married Natasha and subsequently produced two great kids, one of whom, Ollie, is also a gymnast and fitness fanatic and is here with us on our final (for this year) summer camp ‘gig’, teaching circus skills to equally enthusiastic kids.
Richard Griffiths, as Hector in the film, was passing on a love of learning – and enjoying learning – to an unlikely group of history students (including the likes of James Corden who entertains America these days doing outrageous things like karaoke in his care with Michelle Obama [but that’s another story!]).
And so Ollie enthusiastically shares the shirt-free and barefoot lifestyle of my own son Leo and his friend Chris as they, along with Dave’s daughter and her friend Karla work with us teaching balance, flexibility, strength and general acrobatics to a new generation. We’re passing on our love of our lifestyle to this new group of enthusiasts, just as we passed it on already to our own kids. Some examples:
Well, actually, the kids in the camp don’t skinny-dip as such – they have to wear a costume and be carefully supervised in a pool, but my point is that we’re hopefully passing on the love of the outdoor life (in an increasingly prudish America where boys are even starting to wear tee-shirts to go swimming!), tearing kids away from their I-phones and gaming, or being stuck in front of TVs indoors when the sun is shining…
Hopefully doing our bit for enthusing even the dietary-challenged unfit to change their habits, too. The management here seem to think we’re doing well – having invited us back for a second week this year they now want us back next year, and I think we might well agree. Our kids enjoy making new friends amongst those they are sharing their skills with and, I have to admit, rather enjoy showing off that they can do things the others can’t (yet!).
Officially, we are teaching circus skills…
…but, since a lot of that would have to be indoor, we are taking advantage of the summer temperatures using a large, shaded, grassy area and focussing more on tumbling and building on balance and partner skills (perversely illustrated here indoors!).
And everyone is having a great time.
We shall finish on Friday evening with our own performance, featuring the four young’uns first, doing balance and strength skills, followed by us tumbling and then doing the same type of things, plus some combined work with the kids leading into our female companions doing their strictly ‘don’t-try-this-at-home’ stuff with fire breathing and juggling. At our last camp we introduced an understanding of physics and biology in order to show that anyone could do the ‘bed-of-nails’ and I think we’ll be doing that here as well: plenty of volunteers already to learn the tricks!
After which, the rest of Ollie’s family, currently touring in the Smokies, will join us for the rest of their vacation: Leo has only just over a week then before his school re-starts, whilst Ollie will be on vacation until mid-September, such is the difference between UK and USA schedules. Plenty of time for the families to get together, though, in the evenings and weekends, despite Dave and I needing to work some long coaching shifts.
What Leo, Chris and Ollie really want to do is to find somewhere nearby where they can start to do the sort of stuff they see in Eastern European street workout videos:
Sadly, US towns are not equipped that way with suitable street ‘furniture’ and nor is our own training cabin, but Ron is welcoming Ollie into the private gym where it is high time we set up more bars for such work. Ideally they would do it outdoors, and we may lash up something in our yard as well.
What we are equipped for is weights work!
Let’s have a few more acro/gym training pictures:
Ordinarily, I don’t like ‘reflected doubles’ pictures, but this flex handstand trainer is rather effective:
(Well, he’s just leaning on a volleyball net, but he’s obviously been training, and he’s outdoors!)
Just love this next brilliant shot!
Getting it together? The photographer certainly has!
If you are even vaguely interested in the sort of stuff you read here, you may be interested in these books, written about my discovery of gay love and the perfect partner, our training and performances, and some (mis)adventures that we encountered along the way! All purchases support this blog, and also support starving acrobats! e-versions of the books are also available.
And, finally, whoever and wherever you are…