Running away and joining the circus for a summer camp can build confidence, athleticism and team-work skills, according to organizers and campers at Dartmouth’s Atlantic Cirque.

The circus school offers week-long day camps from July to August. The camp for kids aged seven to 13 runs Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $250 — the same price it did when the school opened in 2002. Founder and president Anaïs Guimond says she’s kept prices down so it doesn’t become an elitist pursuit like hockey.

Kids learn everything from trampoline, juggling, stilts, human pyramids to aerial apparatus like trapeze, cerceau and rope. They also play games and watch the high-flying Cirque du Soleil on DVD to prepare for an end-of-the-week show.

Guimond says kids get to try everything, but focus on what they love to do.

It gives kids a huge boost in self confidence, she says, while improving strength, flexibility and balance.

Kids can return to other courses, which are offered year-round, or practice handstands and balancing techniques at home.

Student Thomas Rizzuto is only 13, but he’s got eight years of experience at the Atlantic Cirque. He first tried it after seeing a newspaper article. He went to one class and was hooked.

“I really liked it. It was really fun – great instructors,” he says. “The best part? I’d have to say everything, The whole fun of it.”

The Halifax teenager is heading back for another run at the big top this summer. While he says he loves everything about the camps, hanging off the roof via aerial apparatus is are his favourite event. Rizzuto says he has also learned a lot about team work and trust with his fellow campers.

Learn more at www.atlanticcirque.com.