Summer of 2016 began with two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp in June. JA BizTown is a simulation where kids in fourth through sixth grades have the opportunity to run a mini-city for the day. Each student has a job that ranges from CEO to Sales Manager or radio DJ to physician. Their goal is to pay off the “business loan” they took out from Huntington Bank by the end of the day. Leading up to the simulation teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons preparing the students for a day at JA BizTown – teaching them how to write a check, the difference between debits and credits, relationship building, and more. Now imagine all of this in one week and you have JA BizTown Summer Camp!
Okay, maybe not exactly. However, the differences are very cool. Having the same kids for an entire week allowed the JA BizTown staff to create a more interactive curriculum and focus on teamwork.
“It’s exciting to have the same kids for five days. It was great to see the kids have the opportunity to build their team throughout the activities,” said JA BizTown Program Manager Diane Betteridge.
With the high-level objectives of teaching kids about entrepreneurship, marketing, customer service, financial literacy, job preparation, philanthropy, teamwork, and personal development, JA BizTown staff brought in speakers, had kids complete projects for non-profit organizations, played out “shark tank” skits, and ran several days of JA BizTown.
A benefit to summer camp is that campers get to go through a two-day-long simulation of running JA BizTown instead of just one. However, before they could run the city they needed to go through some “training”.
One of the activities JA BizTown campers participated in was a program called My Special Word, created by JA’s very own Board of Directors Chairman, Dwight Smith. The idea behind My Special Word is to teach students that words are impactful, and using positive words can help inspire, lift you up, and ultimately change how you feel about yourself, others, and the environment. Each camper was given a wristband that said “What is Your Word?” and encouraged to go home and discuss with their family the creation of their special word. The next day, students came back to camp and made a bracelet with their special word on the band. JA is about so much more than financial literacy. A little girl named Lauren lost her mom to cancer last year. She chose the word "ribbon" for her special word because she used to hate seeing cancer ribbons everywhere. She said “ribbon" now served as a reminder to her that it is good to remember the people we love but is are also a message of hope for fighters and survivors. WOW! What an amazing kid!
And there is more. Continuing to teach personal development, JA BizTown Summer Camp instructors brought in non-profit organization My Very Own Blanket to discuss philanthropy. Afterwards, kids worked in their business groups to make blankets for foster children who typically don’t have anything that is their own.
In addition to My Special Word and My Very Own Blanket, JA BizTown campers did learn about financial literacy through games and lessons, along with building miniature cities to learn about community, and participated in job interviews in preparation to run JA BizTown.
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The two most popular jobs are that of the Mayor and radio DJ. Learning about communication skills and public speaking, the kids take part in an election for the two positions, giving speeches on why they are most qualified, leaving their fate up to the voters – JA BizTown citizens. Check out the slideshow to see what their days at JA BizTown looked like including surprise visits from the CD 102.5 ice cream truck and Donatos and Canes for lunch!
On the last day of summer camp, campers were divided into teams and given materials to build a game. Teams then had to create and try to “sell” their game to a panel of JA BizTown instructors – much like the popular tv show Shark Tank. While not as harsh as some of the actual Shark Tank panelists (ahem Kevin O’Leary…), students still learned a lot about entrepreneurship and what it takes to sell a product and build a business.
Check out the below slideshow to get a recap of the two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp!
Next year’s JA BizTown summer camp will run the first two weeks of June ( Save the Date: June 5-9 and June 12-16) and is open to students entering fifth through eighth grade in the fall of 2017. Trust me, your kids will not want to miss out! For more information, you can click here or email Pete Crozier at firstname.lastname@example.org.