Kids around the United States look forward to summer. For many of them it means no school, playing all day with friends, family vacations, or summer camps. But for the kids who have to spend significant portions (or all) of summer in a hospital, summer camp is typically far from their mind. However, if you happen to be one of the kids at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, you will get your summer camp!
This past week was the second of the week-long summer camps orchestrated by Janine Roe, Community Programs Director at Ranken Jordan. Each year there is a wide variety of activities and since 2011 golf has been included as one of those activities. At the camps you will see inpatients, outpatients, day treatment patients, and kids from the community. All of the activities in the camps encourage interaction between all of the kids. Nowhere is this more evident than when the kids make their way outside for golf.
On any given weekend morning, spend a little bit of time on any driving range at any golf course in the country, and you will see how inclusive the game of golf can be. Men, women, and children of all ages, heights, body types, and skill levels are hitting range balls to loosen up before their rounds. Many foursomes will feature a wide range of scores after the cards have been tallied at the completion of play. Yet regardless of score, skill level, or age, everyone has the opportunity to play together and compete against each other.
The same situation occurs at Ranken Jordan every year during camp. Anyone who is there can look down the line of kids hitting golf balls and see kids in wheelchairs, others using walkers, some wearing braces, and several who are completely healthy. None of this stops any of the kids from grabbing a club and swinging away! Our group of PGA Professionals and volunteers work with each of the kids and get them hitting the ball as good as possible with the limited time we have to help them.
The camp weeks are some of my favorite times at Ranken Jordan. These weeks show how inclusive golf can be if given the opportunity. Social interaction with their peers is one of the many benefits kids receive from being involved in a sport. These special weeks at Ranken Jordan show that all kids should have the opportunity to learn how to play golf if they choose to. I have witnessed kids playing and interacting with other kids they may never have even looked at . . . and at the end of the clinic all of them talk about how much fun they had. Our golf program allows all kids to simply be kids while playing a game. I sincerely hope that one day we will see similar opportunities and possibilities for kids around the country.