Travelling to Hawaii for the Beautifully Flawed Retreat

Girls+from+all+walks+of+life+join+together+on+the+beach+at+The+Beautifully+Flawed+retreat.+The+girls+participated+in+many+different+actives+at+the+retreat+including+surfing.+++

Photo by Lorenzo Menendez

Girls from all walks of life join together on the beach at The Beautifully Flawed retreat. The girls participated in many different actives at the retreat including surfing.

Ava Astleford, Reporter

The Beautifully Flawed Retreat is a Christian camp that is put together for people with limb differences that age from 14-25. Its purpose is for people to be able to interact and share their stories. The retreat occurs once a year in either Hawaii or California. The 2021 retreat, however, was located in Kauai, Hawaii from May 23rd to the 31st. The original founders of the organization are Amputee American Professional Surfer, Bethany Hamilton, and her past youth group leader Sarah Hill. Along with help from many others, the two have been able to do 8 retreats throughout the years. Originally for this specific year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19. As things have been progressing, people were able to attend as long as they had proof of a negative covid test within 72 hours of travelling to the island.

Each year they accept around 20 girls to the retreat, for this specific year there were only 14 girls that were able to attend. Lucky enough, I got to be one of these 14. I was born with my right arm being shorter and ending right below the elbow, leaving me with only one hand. I’ve lived with it for my entire life so I am pretty much used to it, besides the little stares and whispers you might get every once in a while. Although I don’t let it get it to me, there are definitely some things that I have struggled with along the way. That’s why this retreat is so great, it gives people an opportunity to speak and relate to people that are similar to you in a way that no one else understands.

The group pictured after making Lei Po’o Flower Crowns. Photo by Lorenzo Menendez

When I first arrived in Kauai I took a drive to the retreat center where the event was taking place. It was called Makanalani. A large place that you can rent out for different things like camps, weddings, parties, etc. This place wasn’t just any old camp house though, it was beautiful; surrounded by 100 acres of greenery and wildlife. All around there were donkeys, chickens, cows, birds, lambs and more. A perfect place to experience Kauai’s beauty and also enjoy the luxuries of the retreat.

The gorgeous views weren’t the most important part though, it was the friendships. Every single girl there just clicked and we were able to have a blast while also learning from one another. Personally going into camp I was looking for answers about the purpose of my arm. Sometimes it is hard to believe that good can come from something painful. I have struggled with understanding how having this limb difference can bring any good to me because all it has done has held me back. But at the retreat I realized something that has changed my mindset. I don’t have to pressure myself into being perfectly happy with everything about me and I don’t need to have it all figured out. The reality is that no one is perfect, and nobody feels that everything about them is absolutely flawless. I have to thank the other attendees for teaching me this because it is something I have always fought with myself about and I finally feel a sense of peace knowing that the physical difference I have is something to be grateful for, for I can learn and experience more things than I ever could have with two hands.