Most college summers include working, whether it be at a part-time job, an internship or in the classroom. I worked this summer, but it was not your standard office or retail gig. I interned at The First Tee of the Triad.
According to program director Kelsey Evans, the First Tee of the Triad is “a non-profit geared toward teaching children between the ages of seven and 18 core values, healthy habits, and life lessons through the game of golf.” Throughout the summer, we had children brought in from local YMCAs and recreation centers to participate in our three-day summer camps.
These were camps where we got to see kids in their purest state. From their outbursts of joy to their screams of frustration, I saw a whole range of emotions. As camp counselors, we tried to get the kids to channel their emotions in such a way that encourages certain First Tee Core Values, such as perseverance and sportsmanship.
There’s nothing like seeing kids move from failure to success. Most days, I would work with kids at either the driving range, the chipping station or the putting station.
Their success was most visible on the driving range. Kids have a certain moxie about them. They see a challenge and never back down, and the range was that challenge. Time and time again, I would get kids saying that they could hit the ball farther than me. They soon figured out that this was not the case. After trying to hit the ball for the first few tries, they would get frustrated until they came to the realization that they needed me to help them. Talk about an “Aha!” moment.
Soon after they got help, they would drastically improve. I think that this is the biggest way I impacted those kids. They learned that asking for help is okay, accepted and encouraged. Seeing kids take advantage of the help I could give was important to me as a person, because I knew that required a certain amount of trust from them that I had earned through patience and kindness.
I am not the only one who has been impacted by The First Tee and its Core Values. Another one of my bosses, Kaitlyn Shires, says that working with children everyday and teaching those core values helps her use them in her own life. Even though we are the ones who ultimately teach and instruct these kids, they leave a big mark on us as well in such a positive way. Ellen Lapierre, director of ACE and volunteers, tacked on that her favorite part of working for The First Tee of the Triad is “watching kids develop into good people with core values that they carry into their lives.”
CEO of The First Tee of the Triad, Mike Barber, phrases it best: “The First Tee means opportunity. An opportunity for young people ages 7-17 to get guidance in developing Core Values, Learn Healthy Habits, develop socially, all the while learning the game of golf, which will stay with them for a lifetime.”
I can rest knowing that I spent my summer doing something that mattered. If any of this sounds like something you would like to get involved in, you can go to www.thefirstteetriad.org and click on the “volunteer” button to make an account. There, you can sign up to volunteer at any of our golf course locations throughout the Triad. Fall registration for campers is open and available on the website, but spots are limited and quickly reaching capacity.