I am the 4-H Clown group leader in our area. For the last 6 years I've taught clowning skills to children ages 5-15 years old. The 4-H'ers perform at a number of community events and service projects throughout the year. I am always proud of the clown group and feel that they always perform to the best of their abilities. I always believed the best way to coach the children in the art of clowning was to write them a script and have them practice their lines and their timing to deliver the blow-off at just the right moment for maximum comedic effect. Then on Valentines Day of this year something happened that gave me a special insight as to my role as a leader.
Due to my busy work and school schedule this year I have not been able to devote as much time to the clown group as I have in past years. But the clown group and I still wanted to visit some of the residents at the area care homes to pass out Valentines.
We met for a couple of hours after school and made up some pretty valentine cards. I talked to the kids about the people we would meet on our visits and what I hoped they would do, (be sweet) and not do, (be loud). At last the day arrived and the clowns were dressed and ready and waiting at the first care home. They waited and waited...
Meanwhile their leader was waiting next door, at the wrong location. Oops they don't call me a clown for nothin'. I finally realized my mistake and joined the clowns promptly. The valentines were quickly distributed throughout the rooms but the clowns I found out were not quite finished. As I rounded a corner to join up with the jr. joeys I heard singing coming from one of the rooms.
"L-is for the way you look at me,
O-is for the only one I see,
V-is very very ex-tra ordinary,
E-is even more than anyone that you adore,
LOVE was made for you and me!".
There were two residents in there with smiles as wide as wheelchairs, and two petite clowns singing their hearts out much to everyone's delight. These two precious little clowns, free of the shadow of their leader, had bloomed out in song and were performing from their hearts with all their soul.
There were more surprises from the clowns that day. The clowns made a conga line and were Conga Clowning. They danced their way into a small section of the hospital called the social room. In there the residents were quietly playing cards or visiting when suddenly they were surrounded by dancing clowns. As the tape player played The Village People's Y M C A, and the clowns did the arm motions to make the letters, instead of sitting passively watching as most of the other residents had, these elderly folk decided to join in on the fun. They began swinging their arms in time with the music just as the clowns did.
That day the 4-H Clowns taught their leader that clowning truly comes from the heart.