Sacrifice viewed through a new lens

As the oldest of three siblings, sacrifice seems to be a way of life for me, especially when it comes to supporting the gymnastics career of my younger sister, Grace. I had become accustomed to my life revolving around her practice and meet schedules, but nothing could prepare me for that one summer night in 2014. Grace came home from practice, and I vividly remember her exclaiming, “There’s an amazing gymnastics camp in Pennsylvania! I need to go!” This camp sounded like a great idea, until I heard that it would take place the same week as our annual family vacation to Cape Cod. Too bad Grace wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity to hone her already considerable skills, or so I thought. Shockingly, my parents were open to the idea of canceling our family vacation, and I can still remember them saying, “If we can all agree, we will cancel Cape Cod and take Grace to camp." I couldn't believe it! It had been bad enough that our daily lives revolved around gymnastics, but now it was affecting our vacations, too. A wave of emotions surged through my body. Initially, I was vehemently opposed. I had been eagerly anticipating our vacation for months, and this gymnastics thing had now gone too far. However, after some consideration, I knew it was the right thing to sacrifice our vacation for my sister, and I ultimately agreed. The Carr Family summer vacation had officially been relocated from our beachfront Cape Cod resort to Woodward Camp, conveniently located in the middle of nowhere.

The seven hour car ride we took to Pennsylvania later that summer had given me a lot of time to reflect on my sacrifice. While I knew I had made the right decision, I couldn’t help but regret it as we drove past miles of empty fields, with no sign of civilization. I could've been gazing at the ocean from the porch of our beachfront room. I could've been splashing in the pool or building sandcastles on the beach. I could've been biting into the gooey s'mores at my favorite restaurant, The Beech Tree Cantina. I could've been standing out on the rocks with my dad, watching the sunrise. Instead, I was on an endless car ride to a place that had nothing in store for me.

When we finally arrived in Pennsylvania later that day, I was miserable. There was absolutely nothing to do. No oceans, no pools, no gooey s’mores. We were in the middle of nowhere. When I realized the highlight of my trip could quite possibly be seeing Amish people riding through the country on their horses and buggies, I knew something had to change. I grabbed my mom’s camera and decided I would make the most of my trip. I marvelled at how different the way of life was there. The drive from our hotel to the camp allowed us to experience a culture we had never seen before. In the midst of the many miles of this unfamiliar culture was the world-renowned Woodward Camp.

As soon as we arrived I could see why my sister wanted to go there. It was a gymnast’s dream. There were girls in leotards for as far as the eye could see. Everywhere you looked there was a different gymnastics facility. Any gymnast would die to train here, but unfortunately, I’m not a gymnast. As a person who couldn’t do a somersault if her life depended on it, I knew I would have a very difficult time trying to kill a week here.

As the boredom continued to set in, I began capturing photos of the picturesque mountains and scenery. While this held me over for a while, I could only take pictures of mountains for so long. That was when I decided to begin watching and photographing the gymnasts during practice. Not only had I enjoyed taking pictures of the gymnasts that week, but I also loved watching the gymnasts perform their incredible skills on each apparatus. I was amazed at how they could so effortlessly tumble on the floor or swing on the bars. Their ability to so gracefully execute a skill on a four inch wide beam or over the vaulting table astonished me. As someone who has never been an athletic person, this experience allowed me to push past my boundaries and become involved in a sport that truly interested me, as both a fan and photographer.

Watching the progress Grace had made that week, and seeing how genuinely happy she had been, made my sacrifice truly worthwhile. In the end, the week that I thought was going to be miserably spent at a camp, has brought great success to my sister’s gymnastics career and has brought me an even greater amount of pride in her. To this day I credit that week in Pennsylvania for allowing me to broaden my horizons and discover a passion in not only a sport I had never found an interest in, but also in photography and capturing life in a way that will last forever.

The End

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