I’ve always had a passion for the game of golf. So when I was offered the opportunity to become a board member for The First Tee of Greater Trenton four years, ago, I jumped at the chance. My primary reason in becoming a board member was to further commit myself in helping underserved youth in our communities.
For those of you who might not be familiar, The First Tee helps shape the lives of kids and teens from all walks of life by introducing them to values inherent in the game of golf – values like integrity, respect and perseverance. What I didn’t realize was how The First Tee would have a direct and positive impact in my own family.
In my work with The First Tee, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing firsthand many children not only become better golfers, but more importantly, better human beings. In joining this youth development organization, I quickly learned that their young participants are provided excellent golf instruction, but they receive much more than that. They are taught enduring life skills that will help them as they advance on through grade school, high school, and beyond.
I was so impressed with The First Tee program after just a year of volunteering that I enrolled my youngest son, Evan, in The First Tee summer camp. He had always enjoyed the game golf – going back to when he was just four years old. He loved playing miniature golf with the family, or going to the driving range with me to hit balls. The First Tee summer camps offer excellent golf instruction and kids experience an environment that is fun, competitive, and nurturing. Campers not only learn basic full swing, short game, and putting fundamentals, but they develop important values and skills that will help them as they advance on through grade school, high school, and beyond.
I saw a host of amazing and positive changes in Evan after that first summer camp experience. He now demonstrates a lot more confidence in himself and projects more assurance in his interactions with people. He recognizes that the game of golf is about so much more than just hitting the ball and getting good scores. He has grown to be more aware of his manners on and off the golf course. The First Tee program has made him a better person. We’re pleased at how it has prepared him in becoming a future leader through patience, determination, enthusiasm, people skills and the drive to make a difference. Evan and I enjoy exploring our shared passion for the game of golf, and it’s been a great way for us to connect as father and son.
We can attest that The First Tee principles work by instilling The First Tee Nine Core Values™: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. These values help arm kids with the tools they need to be successful in life. Because of my personal experience in the First Tee, I can undoubtedly say it is an outstanding and secure way for young people to pick up important experiences in independence and self-sufficiency. These skills are invaluable to a bright future!
In 175 communities across the United States and in select international locations, The First Tee chapters deliver the Life Skills Experience curriculum to young people at more than 1,000 golf programming locations. Please see our US locations here.
Ed Benson is a Director in Health Care Compliance supporting the US Consumer Companies. He is passionate about helping the underserved youth in our communities and is the board for The First Tee of Greater Trenton and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County. Ed lives in Bucks County, PA with his wife Tracy and their two sons Miles and Ev