HANOVER, N.H. — For a few fleeting moments, they are just kids again. No clown noses. No pancake makeup. No stilts or silly pratfalls. No calliope music. And no enraptured audience to please.

Just kids with athletic bodies under a hot July sun, splashing in the Connecticut River and having the time of their lives between shows under the big top that has become their itinerant summer home.

“The feeling you get knowing that you put a smile on a child’s face is something that only a few people can experience,’’ said 15-year-old Ariana Wunderle. “I’m a trouper. I’m a wire walker. I’m a clown. We become a tight family.’’

In other words, she has run off to join the circus with 29 of her new best friends in a traveling youth circus that is winding its way through New England this summer, performing 69 shows in 51 days in five states and 16 towns.