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JA Summer Camper Turns JA Leader

At nine years old, Dontae Smith was an eager summer camper attending JA SUPER Summer Camp for the very first time.

“My school did not participate in JA BizTown, so camp was my only chance to experience it,” said Smith.

“If I would not have come to JA BizTown on my own, I would not have learned how to write a check or know what a CEO or a CFO is because they didn’t teach that kind of stuff at school,” he added.

Now, Dontae is eighteen years old and a third-year camp counselor – a very different experience from being a camper – he will tell you.

“It’s different because I have a more active role in the camp process. I get to see more aspects of JA BizTown and really understand what goes into the sessions. This leadership role has allowed me to be more involved in the learning process of it all,” said Smith.

As a camp counselor, Dontae is excited to impart all the things he learned during his time at JA BizTown to the new campers.

“I learned about business management, using a checkbook, healthy investments, financial literacy, leadership, communication skills, problem solving, and working under pressure for a specific goal,” said Smith.

JA not only helped Dontae gain stronger financial skills, but he also realized his dreams of owning a business. This fall, he is headed to Towson University to major in Criminal Justice, inspired by his father’s career as a police officer, but plans to minor in Business Administration with the hopes of one day owning his own restaurant. He feels confident to take on this challenge thanks to his time at camp.

His experience as a camper, volunteer and now counselor has convinced him that everyone should be part of Junior Achievement if given the chance.

“JA BizTown is not just fun; it teaches a lot of useable skills that are needed later in life, and more kids should have that knowledge,” Smith said.

Kristy Memphis is currently a marketing intern at JA of Central Maryland. She is a Communication, Technology, and Culture major at Bridgewater College, and a Political Science minor. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in May 2020.

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