Finance Camps For Kids

Summer programs encourage young people to safeguard their financial future through money management

as more of a school of self-defense for young investors,” says Godfrey. Until the Enron scandal, people didn’t question their retirement accounts or company 401(k) plans. “Now it doesn’t matter if you are a janitor or a Wall Street broker, you’ve got to be able to understand your own financial tools and resources in a way that may have been less important 30 years ago,” she says.

Investment camps can help teens avoid some of the mistakes of their parents. There is a huge tendency in the United States to spend what we earn. “The financial time reference for most people is two weeks, because that’s typically how often they get a paycheck,” says Brad Dodson, a lead instructor with YoungBiz Better Investing Camp. In turn, “that’s how far ahead they plan their finances. We are teaching kids how to handle their money for the long-term.”

Investing in your child’s financial future does come at a price. A week at Summer $tock costs $850, five days at YoungBiz Better Investing is $395, and one week at Bentley College’s Wall Street 101 in Waltham, Massachusetts, is $650. Placement in investment camps is hard to come by, so apply early. Each year, Summer $tock receives scores of applications as early as Jan. 30. And early applicants have a better chance of getting awarded scholarships to attend camp.

YoungBiz Better Investing, held each summer in Atlanta, Houston, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Florida, and Chicago is open to students ages 12 to 17. The camp is run by YoungBiz, an Atlanta-based organization that develops youth programs, and the National Association of Investors Corp., a Madison Heights, Michigan-based group of investment clubs. Campers are drilled in areas such as money management, stock research, and responsible credit card use. They execute simulated trades and create mock portfolios of their favorite stocks. They also take field trips, play games, and participate in other activities, as well as compete for prizes throughout the five-day camp.

Although Wall Street 101 continued to espouse its message of long-term investing, the investment camp revised its curriculum in light of this year’s corporate scandals and market turmoil. A newly added ethics in finance course taught campers how to sniff out bad business practices. Unchanged were courses on security valuation, portfolio construction, and simulated real-time trading. Wall Street 101 is open to high school juniors and seniors.

Seventeen-year-old Adeyemi Owolewa attended Wall Street 101 this past summer to learn more about the world of business. In addition to learning stock market terminology, he got a real feel for what it was like being on the trading floor. “At the camp, they have a [real-time] trading room,” says the Boston Latin High School senior. “We would watch the ticker and up-to-the-second reports. At the end of each session, we broke off into teams to play a Jeopardy-like game, answering questions about the stock market. The team with the most points would get a prize (hat, mug, T-shirt, etc.). They rewarded us for

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