We were fortunate to catch up with ACE-level participant and Howard High student Logan Lurie about her experience this summer at the Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy (a national opportunity through The First Tee) at Boise State in Idaho. Read on for the low-down from Logan on this memorable experience! Q: What made you want to apply to the Leadership Academy opportunity? A: I applied for the Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy because it was one of The First Tee national opportunities that I had not yet been accepted to. At age fourteen, I began to apply for national opportunities because I saw the incredible experiences my older sister, Harper, had at the ones she was selected for. After attending my first national opportunity, The First Tee/USGA Learning Science through Golf Academy in New Jersey, I could not wait to apply for another! From the amazing participants and coaches I have met, to the new friends I now have from across the country, to the world-class golf courses I have played, to the once-in-a-lifetime experiences I have had, each of the national opportunities have been amazing! Q: What did the application process entail? Was it fairly simple to apply? A: The application process for all of the national opportunities is simple and straightforward, if the participant does not wait until the last minute to begin them. Each application includes General Participant Information (such as name, address, school, grade, parent information); one to a few short-answer questions; a letter of recommendation from a coach, teacher, or advisor; Chapter Participation Survey (that you request from our Chapter), and a Community Service & activities chart. Start keeping track of these items now! This information will also be useful when you have to write a resume, apply for a job and college applications! Opportunities that focus on golf play will also require a golf resume and your handicap. Once you apply for one national opportunity, it becomes much easier to apply for any others, because all you will need to do is update any information, write a new essay and ask for another letter of recommendation. The General Participant Information and Community Service & Activities Charts are saved in the application system. In the past, there have been 5-8 national opportunities sponsored by The First Tee each year. Many are co-sponsored by partner organizations such as John Deere, Coca-Cola, the USGA, Auntie Anne’s, Perfect Sense, Pure Insurance and Wells Fargo. General information can be found at: https://firsttee.org/national-events/ Our coaches, fellow participants, alumni, and our Executive Director, Don Van Deusen can tell you even more! Q: It seems like the Leadership Academy is a great opportunity to gain some independence. I’m sure that could be a little nerve-racking though, especially if you don’t know anyone else going. Were you nervous at all? What helped you enjoy the experience and overcome any jitters? A: Before I left for the first national opportunity I attended, I was nervous because I didn’t know anybody or know any of The First Tee home office staff who attend the events. Shortly after arriving, I had already made new friends and was getting to know the friendly staff and chaperones (who are First Tee alumni). It is very easy to meet new friends at national opportunities, because we are all in the same situation: everyone is from a different chapter, we are all very excited to make new friends and get to know each other. I have met some of my best friends at national opportunities (some I met right away in the van from the airport, others were my roommate and others simply said hello) and it is now so much fun to be reunited with some of them at another national opportunity. Since my first opportunity, I have not really been nervous when leaving for another because I know how easy it is to make new friends. For any of our chapter participants considering applying to The First Tee national opportunities but are nervous, I encourage you to embrace the new opportunity, because I know you will have the best time! Q: Can you describe some of the highlights of your trip? A: The highlight of every opportunity is always meeting new friends, but the highlight of the Joe Louis Barrow Jr., Life Skills and Leadership Academy would have to be the golf courses we played and the coaches we got to work with. Over the course of the week, we played two beautiful golf courses many times, in various types of play formats. I loved getting to know my coaches from all over The First Tee Network and learning from them. It was a really great opportunity to learn from my coaches not only golf skills but Leadership and Life Skills as well. Q: The description for the Leadership Academy talks about giving teens the opportunity to develop and hone their leadership skills, but that’s a pretty broad description. Can you fill us in on more specifics about the types of activities and experiences you got to participate in there? A: Many of the leadership skills we worked on at the Academy came from team building activities and reinforcing that within a team there are various types of leaders. One night we played team-building games such as figuring out how to orient a lot of people to fit onto small spaces, playing team memory games, and team matching games. All of the games were fun, but required a high level of teamwork. Another team building game we played was a French Fry Sauce competition, we were in Idaho! It was fun, and tasty, but also helped us build our leadership skills while working in a team with varying opinions. Finally, we went to a RISE Leadership Seminar about appreciating diversity and embracing differences in a team or group. It was very enlightening and made me think about different leadership situations and scenarios that I had not have thought about before. Q: What was dorm life like? A: At many national opportunities, we are housed in college dorms and all of the dorms are slightly different. While some are nicer than others, they are all perfect at getting The First Tee participants ready for college life. The dorms at Boise State where I stayed during the Life Skills and Leadership Academy were very nice. They were clean and well-kept, and spacious enough for my roommate and me. They provided sheets and towels. This time I had to learn how to deal with a common, hall bathroom. It is a really good experience to see what dorm life is like before moving into one full-time for college. Q: What else would you want to tell your peers who haven’t considered applying to national opportunities in the past? A: I would tell every The First Tee participant who hasn’t participated in a national opportunity to start applying. The national opportunities are such great chances to learn more about you as a golfer, leader and individual, while getting to meet some of the most amazing people. They are such a unique part of The First Tee, and you never know if you will get in, until you apply. Once you go to one opportunity, I know you will be hooked too!