The opportunity to teach our children lessons comes at interesting times, assuming they are ready to learn them at that time. This past Sunday was the finish of the Masters golf tournament. Erika was out of town for the weekend, so it was me and my three boys. Jackson (6), Harrison (4), and Hayden (2) were not excited to spend the whole weekend lying on the couch in the basement watching golf, so I had to record much of the event and watch it at night. However, Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but find a way for all of us to be in the basement so I could watch the end of the tournament. Jackson was in the corner playing with a train set, Hayden was running around playing soccer, Harrison was sitting on the floor drawing, and I was engulfed in the Masters (No, our house is not normally this composed).
As Jordan Spieth walked up to the 18th green, I called for Jackson and Harrison to come watch the end of the tournament. With tears in my eyes, I was watching a fellow University of Texas guy (not the reason for the tears) fulfill his dream at the age of 21. I was crying as a father, a golfer, a dreamer, and a golf fan. I don’t know why I initially called Jackson and Harrison to the TV. Maybe I wanted them to see how many people love golf so they would love golf. Maybe I just needed someone to watch it with me. Or maybe sub-consciously I knew there was an opportunity for a quick lesson.
As Spieth tapped in the put to win the tournament, the crowd erupted. Next, he walked to the edge of the green and hugged his father, his mother, his brother, his grandfather, and a few other people. Then he returned to the green to thank the fans. Complete class. He didn’t spike the ball or taunt his fellow competitor. Throughout the week, commentators and fellow competitors commented on his maturity, sportsmanship, and poise. They talked about how he, at the ripe age of 21, could be one of the new ambassadors for American golf.
As he walked off the green, Jackson in his innocent 6 year old voice, said “Daddy, what did he win? Does he get a trophy or the best portable generator? Or just a bunch of hugs from people?” I could tell he wasn’t that excited to work on his golf game so that someday he could win a tournament and get a bunch of hugs. Try explaining to a six year-old that you are in tears because a guy just won one of the biggest tournaments in golf and he gets a green sport coat. Oh yeah, and $1.8 million dollars and a lifetime exemption to play in the Masters.
And then the lesson began (as if someone else was talking out of my mouth). “Jackson, Jordan Spieth won much more than a green jacket. He won the respect and admiration of a nation of golf fans. He showed people this week that he is a quality person. This is worth so much more than a green jacket…or a bunch of hugs.”
As I was driving into the office Monday morning, I was thinking back over the weekend and realized why those words came out of my mouth. Cheley Camps doesn’t promise to make people better horseback riders, hikers, climbers, or backcountry enthusiasts. Our mission is to build lasting character and resiliency. Campers sometimes choose to attend soccer camp, cheerleading camp, or other performance-based programs over the traditional camp experience. I believe that we are looking at the bigger picture. We are hopefully teaching campers to be better people that contribute to their community.
Maybe part of the reason for the tears on Sunday was the shared fatherhood bond of watching someone’s son demonstrate the values that I hope to pass along to my children. May Jordan Spieth continue to win tournaments and show our youth what it means to be a winner, a competitor, and a positive role model.
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