Something good happened to the kids who went to a summer camp in Fort Worth called First Tee. They learned the game of golf but more importantly, they learned lessons about life.
"I started when I was 10," said former participant Olivia Gibbs. "I was real shy. I didn't like to meet people at all. I didn't like to talk to people at all. This program helped me a ton; growing in myself confidence."
The goal of the nationwide program - with chapters at Rockwood Golf Course in Fort Worth and other locations in North Texas - is to get more kids from ages five to 18 playing golf by eliminating challenges such as cost, access to clubs and/or transportation. A week of summer camp costs $100. Eight weeks of classes is $75. And, if that's too much, scholarships are available.
"We want to remove all barriers and get as many kids in as possible from those with exposure to golf to the nontraditional golfer," said Brian Harris, director of operations.
The Fort Worth chapter works with 45,000 kids every year through programs at the golf course, in schools and through outreach efforts.
The heart of the program, though, is character education and life skills.
"They teach you how to hit the ball and how to respect yourself, others and your surroundings," said Trey Cummings, 14, and a participant in a weeklong summer camp.
The program teaches nine core values: respect, responsibility, confidence, courtesy, integrity, sportsmanship, perseverance, judgment and honesty. They are values connected to golf that go beyond the green.
"They help them problem solve. They help them learn to interact with people," said Gibbs, 23, who stayed with First Tee, went to college on a golf scholarship, got a Master's Degree, then returned to First Tee as a Summer Camps Coordinator. "I've grown a lot as a person more than probably my golf game but have also grown in the golf game."
"They are good things to remember," Cummings said about the core values. The high school freshman sees how he'll put them into play when he starts school next week.
"Respect others. Respect the teachers," he said.
In Cummings, the mission of First Tee comes to life - good at golf; great at life.