Swimming, hiking, campfire songs and pitching tents are SO old school when it comes to summer camps.
Meet the new era of summertime recreational activity for your kiddos: Stocks, Entrepreneurial Skills and Personal Finance camp.
"With names like Camp Millionaire, MoolahU, Future Investors Club of America and WhizBizKids, these camps are designed to appeal to parents who want to teach their children the basics of money management, or support budding Warren Buffetts and Steve Jobses who show an interest in business"- WSJ.
One would assume, the kids going to these camps are quite exceptional children. Ages vary as does the curriculum. From active and passive income, to building investing skills to lending tools to children who one day hope to begin their own start-up...these kids will have a leg up in the future.
It only makes sense lots of these camps are popping up around the start-up capital of the United States, Austin, Texas.
Spurred by necessity, camp founders realize the lack of financial education children receive while in school. Per the WSJ article linked above, only 16 states require any economics work during K-12. Only 7 states require personal finance curriculum.
An independent program, Junior Achievement, has been offered in schools for sometime now. The non-profit relies on business men and women from surrounding communities to donate their time to speak and lend business insights to classrooms.
I have fond memories of my father being the instructor for my 5th grade class. The kids enjoy being treated like adults. Gaining knowledge on topics usually left for the "grown-ups" may be confusing at times, but empowers young minds.
As far as formal curriculum implementation, some parents are not going to wait for schools to make the first move.
Family demographics of kids attending these camps show they come from two types of parents. Wealthy couples who don't feel as if they can alone teach their children about the value of a dollar. The second are parents who wish they themselves could have been more financially successful and yearn to provide those opportunities for their offspring.
An important highlight of these camps however - lots of times it is not the parents idea. It is the kids.
15 year old entrepreneur, Ben Aubin, has attended a financial literacy summer camp since he was 8. Since then he has started miscellaneous small companies and has created 3 apps...at 15!
These camps mean business. No cargo shorts, backpacks and tennis shoes. Many require kids come suited up as they would for a job interview. They learn to work in teams as we all do in formal business environments. Developing business plans in which they present at the end of their program, these kids get a small sample of the "real world" before heading back to school in the fall.
Kids earn "pay checks" during camp and then learn to pay taxes from their earnings, balance a budget and delve into how debt works on a basic scale.
Stocks and bonds are topics many camp-goers find deeply interesting. Post camp, parents will help their children set up small brokerage accounts funded with summer earnings from their own small businesses or savings from birthdays, etc.
What about letting kids be kids opponents argue?! The majority of these kids LOVE this stuff!
Their interests differ from others their age. These camps are only for a couple weeks during the summer which leaves plenty of time for running around the park with friends.
Kids leaving these camps and have set off to start their own small businesses for the rest of the summer, empowered by what they have learned and the freedom their parents have bestowed upon them.
As the article alluded, these kids could be the next Buffett, Gates or Jobs. Or simply just financially literate, hard-working people trying to achieve the American Dream.
No matter the long term outcome, I believe it is wonderful people are championing these programs that are deeply needed.
No matter your occupation, we all have bills. Learning these skills while you're young instead of once you're thrust into adult life will pay dividends down the road.
Wall Street Journal
Future Investors of America
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