About Us... What is Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp?
Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp (aka Moose Camp) is the premier location for clown training in the United States. It is the longest, continuous running camp dedicated to teaching all levels and types of clowning.
Moose Camp is deliberately small, but mighty, with a staff of professionals experienced in the Art of Clowning. Moose Camp is kept to no more then 100 campers so that were are not trying to "teach to the masses". The Camper to Instructor ration is about 5:1, allowing us to take the time and personal attention needed for every aspect of Camp. We teach in a fun, supportive, non-competitive, environment that is geared for your success.
At Moose Camp, we 'walk the walk,' teaching the Clown Arts by doing. Not only do we teach classes, but we also cast and coach you through skills and routines, and feature several performances throughout the week by members of the Staff. The week is capped off with the world's largest annual clown show.
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“What’s Holding You Back?”
The Time Isn't Right For Me.
When is the time ever right for something like this? It is something you have to make time for. Since we began the program in 1994, we have never had a student that regretted the time spent here. Generally they leave relaxed and renewed by their time with us.
They have acquired new skills in clowning, of course. But they have also relaxed, laughed their butts off, and made friends. They have learned that they are not alone in how they look at the world. Sure, they gave up a week in the real world. But the real world was right there when they got back.
It was that time they could not spare that changed. It became a life changing week instead of “just another week”.
I Can't Justify The Time Off Of Work.
Sure you can. In truth, you can’t afford not to take a week off. You take time off for education and/or R&R, don’t you? Well, think of this as a “play-cation!” It will recharge your creative batteries and enrich the rest of your year, and quite possibly your life.
If you have a normal clown or entertaining type business, the week you spend will pay for itself over and over. It is an investment in yourself and your career. If you pick up just one tip that helps you book yourself more parties, or adds to the kinds of events you can book, your ‘week off’ will more than pay for itself. What you learn here will bring more profit to your business, and you will more than make up the lost income.
If you are in any other business, and you are reading this, you must be spending a portion of your work time wondering “what would it be like to really be a clown…”, or “I really love being a clown, but what can I do about it”. Just think how happy you and/or your employer will be when you stop wondering. You will come home relaxed and no longer wondering. You will deal with stress differently. You will laugh more. They will love you at work even more than they do now…
You will be more effective! The improvements in self confidence, presentation, other skills will boost your value in whatever job you do.
People Will Think I'm Nuts!
I'm Not Sure If I Want To Be A Clown.
"It's A Camp For Circus Clowns"
This is another one of our favorites. NO, It’s NOT! It’s a camp that teaches clowning. We offer several types of clown training as our courses reflect. When you look at the list of instruction, you see the variety of types. There is Birthday Party, Hometown, Caring and Hospital, Beginning Clown, Puppets, Magic, Eccentric Clown, Comedy Writing, Physical Comedy, and more, but rarely Circus.
We do understand why some may think that though, so let’s address the elephant in the room (or the ring, in this case). Here’s the main reasons you may think we are a circus clown camp:
- “Most of the instructors are circus clowns.” We strive to bring you instructors that are some of the best in clowning today. Naturally that includes both circus and non-circus clowning. While it is true that many of the clowns on our staff have at least some circus experience, all of them also have a great variety of experience clowning and performing outside of the circus too. In fact, the average amount of time in the circus for our staff members is about 4 years. The average amount of years performing in other venues is about 24 years. That’s a ratio of 6:1 – 6 years in hospitals, hometown, stage, festivals, etc. for every 1 year in the circus. Not sounding much like a circus camp anymore, is it?
- “You teach circus gags.” Only partially true. Some of the routines (also called ‘gags’) we teach have been presented under the big top, but they also have been performed in a variety of other venues large and small. While we teach the routines, we also teach through the routines. We use time tested routines that we know will get laughs so that you can concentrate on the staging and performance elements that will make you shine as a performer.
- “The show at the end of the week is a circus show.” Okay, this one isn’t even close. The All Star Clown Show currently happens in an arena, but the similarity stops there. In fact, the show is the culmination of the week and we used to do it in a small outdoor amphitheater, but weather and seating capacity became an issue and we had to find an indoor location suitable for a show with up to 100 clowns and all the necessary equipment. It’s much more of a stage show than a circus show.
- “There is a lot of circus talk at camp.” Circus clowning, particularly with Ringling, is a common thread of experience and interest with many of our staff and more than a few of the Campers. “Running away with the Circus” is a dream – if only a romantic one – for many clowns. Whether it was with traveling with the Big Show, an occasional gig with a local Shrine Circus, or a guest spot in a smaller show, some of us were lucky enough that the dream became a reality and a connection to a life few get to experience. We love sharing that sparkling jewel with each other and the campers while that shimmering vision still burns bright. But we are not recruiting or training for any circus.
It's Too Expensive!
Now, let’s compare that to other things you could spend your hard-eared money on:
Disney costs $100+ a day just to get in the gates, not including food and lodging!
A regional 3-day clown workshop still ends up being over $100 a day, when you figure hotel and food. Often it’s quite a bit more.
What about a national clown convention? Getting a hotel room, 5 days of meals, and registration…now you’re talking about $200 a day.
Hey, Mooseburger Camp is looking pretty good by now, right?
When you go to a clown convention, you spend time on things beside education. At a convention, there are competitions, meetings, a banquet, and all kinds of social stuff. It is designed to be a convention; it’s designed for fun. So you don’t get as much education in your day. The time goes to other things. At Moose Camp, your value is increased by the fact that we spend our time and our focus all week on supportive, non-competitive education, period. Oh sure, we have fun, but we know you’re here to learn and you’re here to improve yourself as a clown and entertainer. We know you chose Moose Camp for that reason and we aren’t about to waste your time or money.
Put side-by-side, no other clown education event stacks up like Moose Camp. After you budget it out, Moose Camp seems more than reasonable. We do our best to keep it that way. But you know what? Even after you compare the cost of other clown events to Moose Camp, there are a few things you simply cannot put a price tag on or stuff in your suitcase at the end of camp. To name two of the biggies: Self-Confidence and Education.
We believe that great clowning comes from a heart that is not only full of love for its audience, but also loves itself. At Moose Camp, you will steadily grow in your confidence and learn to love yourself. You will recognize your strengths and embrace your weaknesses. There’s no one single course we can recommend that will give this great gift you, because it develops all week long no matter which course you take. Every step of Moose Camp is formulated to help you grow and gain confidence in yourself and in your ability as a clown. And it doesn’t stop there; Moose Camp is only the beginning of this new world of opportunity! Ask any alumni, and they’ll tell you that they left Moose Camp with tons more Self-Confidence than when they first arrived.
The other intangible we guarantee is the quality and breadth of your education, which is priceless. You have a bounty of clown arts education and educators before you; the cream of the crop! Just reach out and pick the best course for you (with help from Pricilla during your PEP talk). Add to that the new tricks you pick up from labs and jams, the skits and gags you learn from the All Star Clown Show, and the demonstrations you watch during workshops. Now add to that the tips you gain from meal-time conversations with staff, the friendly advice you hear from your new clown friends, and countless examples of new ways to do old things. By the time you go home, your head will be full of so much new information that you won’t have any room left to remember your return airplane flight number! Rest assured that we will not only cram your brain full of education, we will also show you the practical, real-world application of everything you learn.
Countless times we have heard it from alumni that they have made more money in their clowning business because of what they learned at Moose Camp. They expanded their clientele, they increased their program/party offerings, they upgraded their costume or props, they added a whole new repertoire, etc. The bottom line never lies, and we love to hear from them time to time when they call or email us to say “Thank you for doubling my business!”
There is also the question “What does it cost you NOT to come to Moose Camp?” Will you miss clown jobs or new business opportunities or become something other than a clown if you don’t come? So I guess I wonder “Is it too expensive to stay home…”
It's The Busiest Time Of Year For Clowning, I Don't Have Time.
You can’t give what you don’t have. It is important to keep up on your skills and refresh yourself when it comes to clowning. It is easy to keep your nose to the grindstone and take every job that comes your way.
At first that works. But talk to any long time clown and they will tell you the way they kept at it was taking time to refresh and renew their skills and clown spirit! Clown burnout is real.
Mooseburger Camp is the place to come to be with people who share your funny point of view while you pick up new skills or sharpen old ones. A week of learning, laughing, and networking will fill your tank to make it the best year ever!
It Looks Like There Is Some Kind Of Religion Involved With The Place They Hold It Or In The Program.
Although we have always been at some kind of a religious setting for Moose Camp, it has nothing to do with the Camp itself. It has everything to do with the fact a retreat center is perfect for what we do. Unlike many ‘camps’ and school settings, the retreat center does not have rustic cabins with screen windows or bunk beds. There is a high degree of comfort with air-conditioned rooms, hot food served in a dining room, friendly people, indoor teaching space, and outside space to do what we do. The setting works perfectly (and since it’s a retreat center, peacefully).
But we are not affiliated at all. They are simply our host location. We have never held a single class in conjunction with any religious connection. We do clowning.
Our current location is a facility that is normally a retreat center for Catholics. We promised to behave and they promised to pretend we are normal and let us do our thing. We will be in their center but, there is no preaching or attempts at conversion. (There is a daily service you could choose to attend, but it is so non-intrusive that you will have to look for it or you’ll miss it! We will let everyone know where it is, but we won’t ask or expect anyone to go.) We are a secular event every year.
Yes, you will see a statue or icons now and then as they are part of the physical facility, and the two priests that live there will certainly be around, but we are on our own.
The Moose Camp program has no religion in it. Most years we offer some classes on Mission or message clowning, and it is from a Christian perspective, but we will teach how to use those same tools in clowning for whatever faith you happen to be. But most of the time, Campers go through Moose Camp without religion coming up at all. It’s completely up to you.
So it’s like faith should be. It’s around in many, many flavors. We have had pretty much every faith on the planet in our Campers. I personally love that, having been around quite a bit myself, but the conversations will not start with us. We do clowning.
I'm Too Old To Start Clowning, Aren't I?
Actually, you are never too old (or too young) to start clowning. While some people get into clowning early, as a career, most people take up clowning as an avocation or hobby only after they are secure in their professional career or are approaching retirement. Yes, seniors make up a large percentage of clowns these days and a large number of our campers are over 50 years of age! We are well-prepared to help Moose Campers of ALL ages become wonderful clowns. The Art of Clowning isn’t just about pratfalls and cream pies; there is SO much more to clowning that is open to you. We can help you recognize your abilities and limits, and work with you on your level. Our staff is trained to work with all types of clowns, no matter what their experience level. Our staff is the greatest — some will hold your hand when you need it, and others will kick your butt! They work very hard to make sure everyone has the time of their life, guaranteed!
We take very good care of our beginners; the Clowning 101 course is designed to get you started on the right, big, funny foot. Did you know that our most popular Morning Course is Clowning 101? That means we have LOTS of “baby clowns” come to Moose Camp who have never put on makeup before in their life! Over the years our first time clowns in this course have ranged from 18 to 93! If you fall somewhere in that range, you’ll probably be okay. We have clown skits all developed for you to participate in to get a taste at performing as a clown.
Another reason to take the time to become a clown: not all clowns are meant to be hilarious! Clowning is about giving. Sometimes it is more important to give a smile and share your happiness than to be a great comedian. Clowning gives you the vehicle to share. If the physical comedy isn’t your thing, maybe face painting will be. Or why not try your hand at Gospel Clowning or visiting hospitals and nursing homes? If you have a desire to brighten someone else’s day, then we can show you numerous ways to do so, all within your abilities and comfort level.
So you see, Moose Camp is the place for beginners and all levels of clowns, no matter the age or background. Each year we have folks who are seasoned professionals and folks who have never put on makeup before in their lives. By the end, everyone leaves with a higher level of confidence then when they came. We have trained clowns in every style, from all over the country and the world. They have then performed in living rooms, hospitals, churches, schools, daycares, malls, nursing homes, festivals, stages, and - yes – even a few circuses. A few never perform outside of the safe confines of Moose Camp, but they return year after year to do it because it fulfills their inner clown spirit, and that’s okay too! They all continue to make us proud of them. It is a privilege to count them as part of our Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp Family! We look forward to calling you family too!
The Thought of Being in a Big Show Scares Me
That’s reasonable. Many first time Campers have never been in a big show before. But rest assured, regardless of your level of experience the week of Camp sets you up for success and the Staff is there to support you. We have done this many times and have all of the logistics worked out. We coach you throughout the week so that you don’t need to worry.
The All Star Clown Show at the end of the week is such a big experience that people talk a lot about the show. When newspaper or TV media come to camp, they will try to show the wildest stuff they can find. So they tape the show. They capture the wacky stunts and falls. And when the students write reviews, they comment on the show. When you meet people who have been here before, they talk about the show. They do things in it that they will never do again. But what a thrill to have done it BIG at least once in their lives! Who wouldn’t make a big deal out of it when they get home from camp?
It’s a shame the All Star Clown Show gets all the press, really, because the majority of the clowns in the show are not going to pursue employment as a full time clown, much less as a circus clown. They do their specialties and learn and work and do other stuff in the show that does not involve pratfalls and getting pied in the face.
There are magic and juggling displays in the big show. There are gags that teach you comic timing and working with a partner, and now you can take them home and teach them to your Clown Alley. There is the kazoo band, which can work for anyone. There are big, group numbers and small, intimate one-on-one opportunities.
But the hospital/caring clowns visit the nursing home and we don’t let anyone film that. It’s not about the media and it could be an invasion of privacy. So you don’t hear much about it. Hospital clowns tend to be subtle.
The show is your graduation. It is a slice of clowning. But you will have spent the bulk of your week on your specialty area that you choose. Then you will finish with a taste of big show performing, of meet and greet, of face painting, of magic, of children laughing, of walking in front of a crowd as a clown! We guarantee it is an experience you will cherish and want to share with others.