Commerce students help kids ‘Break into Business’

Posted on July 11, 2007

Queen’s School of Business is buzzing with young entrepreneurs this week. A new camp, founded by two enterprising BCom students, teaches the fundamentals of business to kids with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Break into Business” is a daycamp designed by Monica Walker and Alyssa Richard, both recent BCom grads, for students in grades four to eight.

Ali tenHove, an 11-year-old camper from Winston Churchill Public School, says Break into Business is like an adventure camp and a business camp at the same time.

Over the course of each week-long session, campers develop a business idea, a budget and a marketing plan before launching their business. The final day serves as an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and also a chance to communicate their successes to parents via PowerPoint presentation.

Ali’s team, the Sweet 7s, came up with the idea of running a pizza and snack stand to cater to construction workers currently working on the Queen’s campus. For $3 customers got a slice of pizza, a cookie and a pop. “The construction workers were happy to get it because they were hungry.”

Ali, who aspires to a career wind-testing big buildings like her grandpa, says that business camp showed her all the potential paths that she could take with her career.

Walker and Richards developed the camp because they enjoy working with children and wanted a last “camp” experience before moving onto careers in Toronto as management consultants ­ — Richard with Bain and Company and Walker with the Boston Consulting Group.

Break into Business isn’t their first entrepreneurial endeavor at Queen’s. Since starting their Bachelor of Commerce degrees four years ago, this dynamic duo has started a scholarship foundation that raised $6,000 for third year Commerce students going on international exchanges, and created and delivered their own exam preparation course. Walker also recently won the title of “Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec” in a national competition.

To recruit campers, the founders toured 35 Kingston public schools giving hour-long lessons on advertising and entrepreneurship. They also let students have the opportunity to run their own business, a lemonade stand, through a computer-based simulation that Walker developed.

Their recruitment efforts paid off with more than 60 children enrolled in the new camp over two one-week sessions.

Outgoing Commerce program director Peter Kissick was instrumental in helping get the camp off the ground, advising the two young founders on logistics and legalities along the way. “We couldn’t have done it without him,” said Walker.

Jonathan McGarity-Shipley, another camper from Winston Churchill PS, said that running a business was the best part of his experience. His team, the Winston Windshield Wipers, held a carwash that sold drinks in the parking lot of KCVI, a local Kingston high school.

Jonathan said that despite learning a great deal about business at the camp, he still wants to be a herpetologist, someone who studies amphibians and reptiles.

Despite the camp Olympics and water balloon fights, both Ali and Jonathan said that learning about the stock market was their favourite part of Break into Business camp. “I learned how to buy low and sell high,” said Ali.

And the most rewarding part for the founders? “Hearing kids say ‘now I know what I want to do when I grow up’” said Walker.

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