Golf's Impact on our Community's Youth

21 September 2014

The Boyd family: pictured left to right, Keating, Bex, Zeph, Belil, Elizabeth, Tolin and Tokel

For hundreds of children this past summer, the golf course acted as a classroom of sorts. On any given day at The First Tee of Hampton Roads, kids could be seen getting advice on their swing, instruction on the putting green, and making friends with their fellow campers. In addition to learning fundamentals of the golf swing and the game, The First Tee of Hampton Roads provides character education and life skills programs to help young people be successful in school, at home and in their community. This is done through emphasizing Nine Core Values™ and focusing on using those in everyday life.

The First Tee of Hampton Roads, which is a program of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, is expanding its reach every year. In addition to the areas served in the past, new collaborations have led to reaching an additional 30,000 kids through working with ten new public schools in Chesapeake, five in Franklin, and Southampton County. New initiatives with Virginia Beach and Norfolk are also being pursued. This triples the amount of schools that The First Tee of Hampton Roads previously served. All school programs are grant funded.    

With the new school year beginning, outreach programming will start back up at Oceana Military Base, Little Creek Military Base, the Rosemont Unit of the Boys and Girls Club in Virginia Beach, an After-School program at Park Place Elementary in Norfolk, and Homeschool P.E classes at YMCA family centers. By the end of 2014, it is estimated that outreach programming alone will have served close to 8000 children.

Some of those children served are the Boyd brothers. All four of them. Until May of 2012, three of the four brothers had been living in an Ethiopian orphanage. When a close friend of Elizabeth and Bex Boyd returned from a mission trip, she showed them pictures of the children in need of families. Something inside the Boyds clicked and they decided they would adopt these three brothers and ensure a better life for them.

All five of their children have participated in programs that the YMCA offers, and this summer, mom figured she would give the kids exposure to something new. “I learned of a military scholarship that was being offered, and I thought that the concentration and focus that golf requires would be good for the boys.”

This program is valuable in the community for the character values it instills and the fun experience the kids get, learning to play golf together. Courtesy is taught by beginning and ending a round of golf with a handshake, as well as being still and quiet while others are preparing and performing a shot. Integrity is also emphasized by practicing etiquette and composure. The game of golf is used as a way to deliver these values to kids while they are having fun!

Before camp, the Boyd brothers didn't know much about golf other than that their grandpa plays the game. They were surprised to learn of the number of different clubs, the names for them and their uses. When asked what they had learned during their week of camp at The First Tee of Hampton Roads, 8-year-old Belil said, “You have to be honest about your score.” And as one of the Nine Core Values™ emphasized at camp, how do you apply honesty in life? “If you break something, don’t blame it on your brother.”

Click here to learn more about The First Tee of Hampton Roads and the many programs offered.