Camp Carnival – A Puppetry and Circus Arts Camp

No need to run away and join the circus when you can be part of Camp Carnival, a two-week Puppetry and Circus Arts Camp for ages 9-15. This camp is a unique opportunity to explore the worlds of circus and puppetry together under the guidance of professionals who have decades of experience. Try your hand at aerial arts, clowning, juggling, stilt walking, hooping! Unleash your imagination with puppets and learn how to make them! This camp will allow you to get a taste of both worlds with the option to focus on one or the other—or both! Life is a Carnival at this unique, first-of-its-kind-camp in Richmond.

Camp Carnival began the way that so many things do — a dream of two people who conspired to make it happen. Heather Bailey is an aerialist with Host Of Sparrows Aerial Circus! with a vision to create a circus school. Heidi Rugg, puppeteer and founder of Puppets Off Broad Street and Barefoot Puppet Theatre, was looking to create a puppetry camp and in search of a circus program for her ten-year old daughter. One thing led to another and…ta-daaah! A Big Top dream was born.

Now Bailey and Rugg have assembled a team of professionals dedicated to sharing their art form with young people.  Juggling, contortion, hooping, aerial arts, puppetry, stilt-walking, and clowning are just some of the skills that will be explored. Instructors include Christopher Hudert, a puppeteer and former Ringling Brothers’ Boss Clown; Heather Bailey, aerial artist; Heidi Rugg, puppeteer; Jesse Joyner, juggler; as well as hoopers, a contortionist, and more!

“We are focused on safety, fun, and trying new things,” says Rugg. “Circus and puppetry are a great match. There are so many natural opportunities for a child who might be more shy to really find their voice, as well as more exuberant child to channel their energy in new ways.”

Children will have the opportunity to explore both puppetry and circus during this two week program. A culminating showcase will share what everyone has learned and experienced in this camp that focuses on trying new things and the process of developing new skills. For registration, visit or call Melissa Rayford at 804-592-3381.

This camp is a collaboration between Puppets Off Broad Street, Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus! and RPAA, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (formerly CenterStage). Camp Carnival runs weekdays from August 14-25. Classes will be held from 9am-3:30pm in the Genworth Brightlights Education Center located on the third floor of Dominion Arts Center: 600 E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219. Registration: $450. Scholarship opportunities are available; please visit the website for additional information.