Meghan Lewis is a trapeze instructor with Club Med and has traveled the globe. We went to high school together (SASHS) in tiny Shippensburg, PA and it was interesting to catch up with her after so many years.
Q: You literally ran away to join the circus tell me about that.
ML: I didn’t start out with a plan to run away and join the circus, but it just sort of happened. To sum it all up, I went to college and first job out of school I went to Club Med resorts to work as a receptionist. At Club Med (CM) they are very open to you trying new things and learning new things. I got bored with reception and then tried one of the back office positions, transportation manager. It was fun, I liked the job, but then I saw all the other people working outside all day and that looked even more inviting.
My roommate from my first season had me try water skiing for the first time my first week at CM and I loved it so much that the waterski team asked me to be in the waterski shows with them. So, I asked if I could learn how to drive the boats and become a waterski instructor. They sent me to get a boat license and next season I was teaching waterski! I loved being outside all day, but in that village waterski was only open in the summer, so I went back to transportation manager in the winters.
Then I was sent to another village, as a transportation manager, that did not have waterskiing and I still wanted to be outside. So, I looked around the village and circus was the next thing that jumped out at me! I spoke to e circus manager and told him I was interested in trying it out and he said anyone can work circus if hey really want to, you just have to want it. So, I started training with them and once I become strong enough they let me perform a number or two in the shows and then when it came time to change seasons I said this is definitely what I want to do as my job daily. Lots of hard, physical work, but I loved it.
They moved me over to the circus team and there was no looking back after that. I don’t know exact dates, but it was probably sometime in 2007 that I started working circus. I stayed with CM for 3 years changing villages every year and then left to go to another resort where I worked doing circus also for a year. After that I tried a summer camp in the US working a trapeze rig and living as a counselor for ten eight year old girls!
Eventually, I came to this circus school in Oakland, CA where I have been for the past two years. When I say circus and talk about circus there are obviously lots of different disciplines and things that people think of when they hear circus. I mainly work on a flying trapeze rig. At CM and the other resort, we would hold class in the morning for kids and in the afternoon for adults on the flying trapeze. We would also perform at least twice a week. One flying trapeze show and one indoor show. When I say indoor, it was all the static apparatuses, like single trapeze, hoop, silks, double trapeze, and also some ground things like hand balancing, mini trampoline and juggling. Now, at the school I am teaching at I mainly teach flying trapeze, but I also have a few classes of aerial. It’s a fun job. Here at the school there are regular classes every week that have regular students in then, but also people that come for the first time and also lots of groups, like birthday parties or business team building.
Anne, you should try a class! There is a school in DC and you should make a small road trip to try it out so you have a better understanding of what I’m talking about!
Q: You’ve traveled extensively through your work with Club Med, what have you learned from your travels?
ML: I love to travel! That was the best part of working for CM for so long! I traveled to both resorts in the US, Colorado and Florida, Bahamas, Australia, Israel, Turks and Caicos, Thailand, and three places in Mexico, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Ixtapa. I think it’s important that when you go to new places you try out new things and see locals and not just the resort. I would always take advantage of the excursions the resort had to offer, but also look into other adventures that I could do on my days off. I also learned that there are always going to be travel advisories, but lots of times they are very general. When I lived in Mexico we had lots of guests that would cancel reservations because of travel advisories to Mexico. Yes, there were issues going on in northern Mexico, but that was nowhere close to where we were, but yet people still cancelled vacations because of that. I would just say look more into the advisories instead of just hearing, “don’t travel to Mexico.” And that goes for all advisories. I believe some people are very nervous to travel outside the US because of one or two bad stories, travelers just need to do their research on where they are going; that’s my advice.
Q: We grew up in the same small town – how did that shape who you are? If you could give the elementary kids from Shippensburg one piece of advice, what would it be?
ML: I think growing up in a small town shaped me because of all the friends and family that I grew up with. I feel like every kid hates their town when they are young and always wants more and thinks something else is better. I know I did and I always wanted to leave my small town for something different. I did leave and I did see lots of other places and now when I come back to Shippensburg I have a greater appreciation for it. I feel like every place I went was just another small town with different people and different activities and attractions. The best part of where you live are the people you make connections with.
My piece of advice would be to travel and see other places and try to learn another language so you can communicate with a handful of other people.
Q: What inspires you? Where do you find your greatest joy?
ML: What inspires me is knowing that there is always going to be another adventure out there and there is always going to be something that scares me that I need to overcome in that adventure.
My greatest joy is my family and friends. I have always lived so far away from my family, but they are always there when I need them and they are always just a phone call away. I have friends all over the world now, so it’s nice to keep in touch with them and know that when I travel there is always going to be someone to go visit and catch up with.