At The Bridge Golf Foundation, summer is no time to rest, and that can be a tough sell for a young man who is looking forward to free time, video games, and sleeping late.
On June 25, we held a summer orientation at The Bridge Golf Learning Center for our Foundation families, whose ranks are growing this summer with the addition of 10 rising 8th graders, bringing our total number of students from 20 to 30. One new mom asked a question that was surely on many parents’ minds: How do I make a summer of STEM and character education sound appealing to my son? Associate Executive Director Jeffrey Booker was ready with an answer that got at the core reason for the existence of our Foundation.
“Tell them they have to sacrifice their time to invest in their future,” Booker said. “We have to do this work. One third of black men in this country are in prison, on parole, or on probation. We are working to change that.”
Noah Folks, who will be a junior in high school in the fall, is entering his third summer in our program. He can relate to this sense of hesitancy but thinks the new students will be happy they made the commitment.
“When I first started, it felt a little like having to come to school every day, like we had no free time,” he said. “But by the next the year, it felt good to come into the Center every day instead of playing video games. This year I feel like it’s great because the Center is like my second home, and I’ll get to work and get paid for it. I would tell the new students that eventually you’ll get used to it, and you might even love it.”
And there will a lot for all of our students to love in this very busy summer.
From July 9 to August 17, the summer program for our rising 8th, 9th and 10th graders will have them focused on STEM, character education and golf from 9am to 1:30pm every weekday. Our STEM team has planned a curriculum that will include physics, math, nutrition, computer science, programming and mechanical engineering. Our character education curriculum will use the TV show Black Lightning as a jumping-off point for discussions and essays about race and power in our society. Our golf coaches will be working with TrackMan and taking our junior golfers on regular trips to Dunwoodie Golf Course in Yonkers and Marcus Garvey Park for exercise.
While our younger students are busy will all of this, our oldest students, who will be juniors next year, will turn their attention to a college and career readiness curriculum that will focus on ACT prep, our Youth Works program, and learning about college.
Our teaching staff has been trained on A-List, a program that prepares students for standardized tests, and will lead our young men through twice-a-week review sessions, with lots of practice tests. Our second summer of Youth Works will offer our students a chance to earn valuable work experience and a paycheck while working as club operators at The Bridge Golf Learning Center or on the crew of a documentary film, produced by College and Career Readiness Coordinator Reggie Mays Jr., that will chronicle our Foundation’s summer. Finally, the golf coaches will not only help our young men keep their games in shape, but will also counsel them on how to find golf scholarships and academic programs that can lead to careers in the golf business.
Our students will also spend a week at The Bridge in Bridgehampton, where they will work on all aspects of the club’s operation, from the grounds crew to the pro shop to the locker room to food service. They will also learn about caddying from the veteran staff at the club. When they’re done working, they will be able to play the course, one of the most spectacular in the Hamptons. We also have several college visits in the works, including an overnight trip to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where our summer intern Jacinth Thomas is studying in their PGA Golf Management program. And our students will be participating in a financial literacy program at Goldman Sachs in Manhattan on July 27.
With all of this learning and activity, our young men will continue to thrive, not slide, over the summer. And we bet they even manage to have a little bit of fun.