The final day of the Oneida Indian Nation’s Summer Jam welcomed the progam’s 30 participants and their families for an afternoon of activities, lunch and the opportunity to look back on the summer’s highlights. Several Nation police officers and staff from the recreation and language departments were also in attendance.
Family Day, as the program’s last day is known, also offered a chance for the families to take in the presentation of new custom-fit golf clubs to participants in the Nation’s First Tee program. The popular summer-long program works to improve participants’ golf skills and to instill them with several core values including honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect and perseverance. Nation Representative Ray Halbritter awarded the clubs to several first-timers, as well as to a few who outgrew their previous sets.
“I’ve played golf for many years, but we could never afford clubs or golf balls when I was your age,” Ray said. “We have these great gifts and goodie bags so you can continue practicing. Thank you to all the families that came out as well. We built this rec center for our kids to enjoy, and we are thrilled they are taking advantage of it.”
Turning Stone’s Director of Golf and Recreation Miles Blundell and The First Tee of Syracuse Executive Director Peter Webber were also on hand to celebrate the seventh year of the program at the Oneida Indian Nation.
“This has been a great program over the last seven years,” Miles said. “We get 30 participants each summer and the kids can receive a new set of fitted clubs as they grow. It’s a great way to keep them engaged with the sport.”
First Tee is built into the Summer Jam program, which runs for six weeks and invites Oneida Members, Oneida children and Health Services clients to participate in cultural, educational and physical activities.
Donna Howe, the youth programs coordinator, handed out awards. Tailored to each participant’s personality, likes or contributions to the program, the awards provide the kids with an appreciation for what they bring to the group.
During the final week of Summer Jam, participants also enjoyed a trip to Roseland Water Park near Rochester. It was a perfect day to be outside and have some fun to close out another successful summer.