LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Over 100 campers are attending Clown Camp at Viterbo University this week. Many of the Campers have traveled from all over the world to learn how to be a clown.
For the campers, Clown Camp is more than just a week of training. It’s also a chance for the returning campers to reunite. This year, the camp numbers grew to 32 new faces.
Bob Neil, also known as Kiwi the Clown, has been Clowning since 1972, and the bonds he’s formed is the reason he returns every year.
“When I first started, I was here for two years, and It was just like ‘this is my family’. This is a family reunion. This isn’t a clown camp, this is a family reunion, ” Kiwi said.
Clown Camp, originated in Lacrosse, is known as the “Original Clown Camp”. It is one of the original training grounds, outside of professional training, for people to come and learn how to be a clown. There are other training grounds located in other areas,
“It’s all skill levels. So it’s someone who would be a new clown can come here and someone who has experience and wants to kind of fine-tune their skills and their character,” Director of Clown Camp Kenny Ahern said.
The camp also brings in world class instructors. One instructor is from Singapore and another is from the UK.
The camp began in 1981 and since then has trained over 5,000 aspiring clowns. The camp moved to Viterbo University in 2009. After a break, the Camp started back up again in 2016 and has grown ever since.
Over the years, the mix of new and returning campers begin to share a love for the art of clowning, which ultimately creates an unbreakable bond between them.
“So coming here every year, you see people that you see once a year. The best part about it is you’re sharing a passion that all of us have. We could talk with each other; we could joke with each other; we’re learning together. And that’s the one thing about this art: You never stop learning,” Kiwi said.