The Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois hosted its 7th Annual Thinking Outside The Tee Box golf outing on Saturday, September 11, 2010, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Thinking Outside The Tee Box paired Chicago area female business professionals with female Kids Golf participants ages 11-17, in a scramble and mentoring activity.
The event kicked off with a Welcome Dinner for the Kids Golf girls and their families on Friday night at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Aurora. The girls had the opportunity to interact with each other, as well as hear an inspirational guest speaker, Katrina Smith, founder of the organization KLS Influence & CoverED Girls. Katrina shared a motivational message about the importance of overcoming obstacles and pushing yourself past your limit. She also emphasized the tremendous value a mentor can have in their lives as they continue to develop their goals and encouraged them to fully embrace the next days’ activities.
“Our Foundation understands the importance of having adults in our lives that can be a positive influence,” said Holly Alcala, Foundation Director. “Bringing in guest speakers to address our participants and the selection of the business professional mentors are key to the overall success of this event.”
The Foundation provided a wonderful welcome bag, career handbook, mentor booklet, and other goodies such as a pink fleece and hat to all the participants. The career booklet which the Foundation assembled included career tips, resources, articles, and a section dedicated for note taking. Many of the items in the goodie bag were donated by local companies.
The following morning, a pair of two girls and two business professionals rotated through activity stations where they had a chance to practice putting, stretching, chipping, and full-swing. These golf fundamentals were paired with important business and personal life lessons. For example, full swing is paired with balance, while putting is paired with vision. To accomplish this, the Foundation created unique boards that were displayed at each station containing important points that the activity leaders and volunteers used during their demonstration. The Foundation makes these connections in an effort to illustrate to the participants how golf can be linked to life and that all experiences have the potential to teach us something.
“Through this event my daughter has learned the importance of respect for the game, discipline, leadership, and networking,” stated Larissa Redfield, a parent of one of the participants. “And those are skills that she can carry for the rest of her life.”
Immediately following each station, the girls were challenged to reflect on what they had learned by completing a worksheet with the help of their activity leader and business professional mentor. A number of the worksheets contained questions that encouraged the participants to think of one goal to accomplish that day using the life and golf skill they had just learned about.
While on the course and paired with their mentor, the girls were encouraged to demonstrate a high level of personal and professional etiquette, interact with other adults, ask the mentors questions, and more.
“It is really nice to see younger women interested in playing golf and to see them realize how they can benefit personally by learning the many life lessons from the game,” said business professional, Naomi Burkel. Naomi and her company Mary Kay Inc. made a contribution for the girls’ welcome bags. “I look forward to learning what the next steps are in continuing to stay involved with the Foundation.”
After the scramble, participants were treated to a Luncheon and Silent Auction where the learning and networking continued. The young Kids Golf girls were offered a silent auction dedicated strictly to them where they used fake money to bid on items. In order to earn the pretend money, the girls had to do things over the course of the weekend and were continuously observed by Foundation staff and business professionals. Their positive behavior was translated into money as they entered the afternoon portion of the event.
Michelle Ewers, one of the Foundation’s Site Coordinators who has nominated over 20 girls since the inaugural event stated, “It has been great to watch the girls experience a professional side of life at a young age. They have been developing a willingness to try new things.”
Michelle has also seen her daughter, Megan Ewers, who participated in the first Thinking Outside The Tee Box event (2004), grow over the years. Megan spoke at the event about her past experience and how the Foundation has impacted her life. She gave advice to the girls in attendance about being dedicated to their goals.
Inspired by Megan’s words and their overall participation in the event, many of the girls walked away with valuable lessons. “This event has helped me step out of my comfort zone, said Candace Cooper. “Golf reminds me that there is always something more to learn and be aware of when I’m playing.”
The Foundation relies heavily on the support of businesses, volunteers and others in order to make Thinking Outside The Tee Box a success. For information on how you or your company can get involved in the 2011 event, we ask that you contact the Foundation at (630) 466-0913 or visit our website at www.kidsgolffoundation.org.