Adult camp is, in my opinion, how gymnastics should be. Ability level is of no importance to the other campers and we all encourage each other no matter which skills we're mastering, whether it be a kip or a front flyaway half. I attended both the summer and winter camps and the crew we have had, both campers and staff, has been great. The vibe at camp is very open, relaxed and non-judgmental, a vibe all-too-different than a lot of us experience when we do gymnastics back in our own towns. It's always a huge relief to be surrounded by like-minded people and I was especially grateful for it this time around.
Other than seeing friends I haven't seen in a while (some of who I'd met at the summer camp), the highlight of the camp for me was throwing a new skill. I've been battling some big fear issues on vault lately and have recently realized the beauty of positive self-talk. I never believed in it until I utilized it one day and watched my vaulting fears ease and the progress I was able to make. I'd been struggling to get my comfort level of a front handspring vault back. I saw someone in another group do a front front and at that moment, I decided that come Hell or high water, I was going to do one too before camp was over. It's been a Bucket List item for me and it was now or never. We were using the Tumbl Trak vault trainer and I'd never had much success with them. The trampoline messes my timing up and there's such a big drop from the table to the pit that my stomach tends to jump up into my throat. James was a saint, spotting more vaults than I can count, while gracefully accepting all of our own quirky fears with a comforting smile and some humor and periodically jumping into the pit to fluff all the blocks back up (in record speed, I might add). He led me through several timers, each one getting progressively better and more aggressive as I slowly came to the realization that he had my back and that I wasn't going to injure myself. With five minutes left of camp, it was go time. I stood at the end of the Tumbl Trak with a swarm of butterflies in my stomach. I was sorry to have made James and Tony wait so long for me to start my run down the trampoline, but I had about 20 years of fear to leave at the door. Once I started running, I never looked back and went for it 100%. No balks the whole day. I had no idea where I was in the air (I was told I closed my eyes), but once I landed, I knew I'd done something truly amazing. Hearing the whole camp scream in celebration with me at the end was something I wouldn't trade for the world.
Adult gymnastics fear is different than that of younger gymnasts because we've been afraid of things for much longer. It's like baggage we accumulate through years of poor choices and bad relationships. It takes longer and more work to get through it. The coaches at adult camp get this and have the perfect balance between pushing us and being understanding of our quirks and fears. I wish I knew how they did it.
In Buddhism, there is a term called "kosen rufu" which means "the ceaseless effort to enhance human dignity, to awaken all people to a sense of their limitless worth and potential." It does not mean an end point and has been referred to as "the very pulse of living Buddhism in society." This is what gymnastics is. It is a goal-oriented sport and pushes its participants to keep reaching further. Society sees it as a child's sport, but a gymnast is still a gymnast whether s/he is 8, 18, 38 or 88 (or beyond). I believe that if you truly love something, you share it with everyone and find ways to make it grow. Gymnastics is meant to be shared and experienced by anyone who has the desire to challenge themselves both mentally and physically. I can't thank Tony, Gina and all the coaches enough for realizing the needs of adult gymnasts and creating this amazing camp experience for us. I can't wait to see this camp grow into something even more amazing than it already is.