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Young golfers learn life skills on course

Military children invade Eagles Pride Golf Course during 4th annual summer First Swing Golf Camp

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:22PM July 26th, 2012
Young golfers learn life skills on course

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Instructor Chris Chua helps Samara Measle, 5, of JBLM, with chipping during the recent First Swing Golf Camp for kids at Eagles Pride Golf Course..

Youth took over Eagles Pride Golf Course for three days last week as part of the annual summer First Swing Golf Camp.

This marks the fourth year of the camp for children from 5 to 15 years old under Eric Bowen, head golf professional at Eagles Pride. But it’s the first year local nonprofit organization, The First Tee of South Puget Sound, partnered in the event. First Tee develops youth life skills using the game of golf.

“It’s a great opportunity for these kids,” The First Tee of South Puget Sound Program Director Ryan Kallenberger said. “In the military a lot of these kids are moving around and miss the opportunity.”

In previous years the day camp hosted 30 kids for the three-day instructional camp three times each summer at the course adjacent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This year 40 budding golfers attended the July camp where all received their own junior golf gloves and Sponge Bob golf balls.

First Swing Golf Camp teaches golf fundamentals while also instructing The First Tee of South Puget Sound’s nine core values: respect, responsibility, confidence, honesty, integrity, judgment, sportsmanship, perseverance and courtesy.

“The first three years it was based on fun, to make the golf course a fun place to be,” Bowen said. “This year is more structured, but there’s still the fun factor.”

The camp starts each morning with a word of the day. For July 18, the word was the core value, “confidence.”

“What do you think confidence means?” Kallenberger asked the golfers before the camp began.

“To believe in yourself,” a young camper replied.

Divided into groups and led by Child, Youth and School Services coaches, golfers practiced pitching, driving and hitting with a 7-iron.

During the deployment of her husband, a Soldier with 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment and golfing enthusiast, Tania Thomas brought their 6-year-old daughter, Genesis, to the camp for her first golf experience.

“She loves it,” Thomas said. “It’s educational and they’re playing. It’s great especially for the summer. It’s something for the kids to do.”

The young golfers enjoyed their final morning on the course where they learned another core value, honesty, by keeping their own score. The first day of the camp they practiced sportsmanship and learned how to shake hands.

The final First Swing Golf Camp of the summer is Aug. 21 to 23. Contact CYSS at 966-2977 to register.

If You Go

What: First Swing Golf Camp

When: Aug. 21 to 23

Where: Eagles Pride Golf Course

Cost: $25

Registration: 966-CYSS (2977)