Young students get taste of business in Youth & Money Camp

Students get taste of business
in Youth & Money Camp, September 2, 2013

Rome wasn’t built in a day and a business can’t be built in four and-a-half days.At last week’s Youth & Money Camp, 12 children, ages 8-14, developed a business plan and learned about the food business on a field trip to the new ShopRite of Fox Street. What the students accomplished in the short time was impressive.

The camp, a program of The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise in Mt. Airy, has been run since 2008, and is an extension of the Center’s Urban Youth Entrepreneurial Program in middle- and high schools, which has operated since 2006. Last week’s module was at Lutheran Theological Seminary. Two previous summer sessions were at Penn Charter School and Arcadia University, and there is a module this week at LTS. More than 45 children will have attended this summer.

On Friday morning, the students, with instructor Valerie Joseph-Darden, and assistants, Central High School senior Abeni Watts and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore Julia Reeves, visited the expansive, ShopRite. The store is an Education Improvement Partner, said Business Center Executive Director Pamela Rich-Wheeler. The state gave ShopRite a tax credit for donating to the program. “That enabled us to offer scholarships and tuition on a sliding scale,” said Rich-Wheeler.

At the fresh fish department, Kim Holmes showed a live lobster on her arm. She said the health of a fish can be determined by the white of the eyes.

Cashier Tiffany Moore guided the group through the vast international foods, meat, deli, snack foods, bulk food sections, refrigerator and freezer items, and the room where online orders are received and prepared for pick up or delivery.

In a community room, Watts led a discussion about nutrition, and then an exercise on building the best turkey sandwich. Using a worksheet with ingredients and prices, they calculated unit per item, cost per unit and unit per meal.

Before the students split into three groups, Watts told them, “You have to decide how much does it cost to make a sandwich? How much are you going to sell it for? What are the selling points? You are going to see if the rest of the class will buy it.”

The ingredients were provided by ShopRite. Decisions came down to number of slices of turkey, amount of mayonnaise, potato chips on the side or in the sandwich, and removing ingredients. Two groups made fancy napkins.

In the afternoon, the campers presented their business plans accompanied by Power Point slides.

“They needed to define the business, the purpose, why they chose it, the market, the product’s features and benefits, pricing, sale projections, personnel, and start-up costs,” said Darden-Joseph. “We let them develop their own ideas.”

Hammad Austin, 13, I’ll Walk It (Dog walking); Samir Arrington, 13, Hand-Crafted, knitted items and candles; Jelani Wheeler, 14, E&J Car Wash, and Nailah Wheeler, 12, who resells headbands and sun glasses, are already operating their business. For many, a hobby became their business. Shayla Allen-Gerald, 8, Gimp, made a sign and brought samples of her products, as did Samir Arrington.

“When the kids brought their products to class, we did a quick market survey to see who would buy it and how much they would pay,” said Darden-Joseph. “The kids actually bought items from each other.”

Boris Duke, 8, is fluent in French because he has family in France. His business was French Tutoring.

Dahlia Denson, 9, Sparkle Flat Shoes, would use social media as part of her advertising.

Deassath Kouakou, 12, D & M Productions Custom Beaded Bracelets and Necklaces, because “I am a good salesman.”

Sufyan Arrington, 12, Sufyan’s Comics, because “I like to draw.”

Christopher Choitz, 13, Colorz Web Design, to “make business web sites look professional.”

Tamara Choitz, 11, Jewel Java, “I can do what I love and earn money.”

Tatiana Davis, 8, Fluffy Doodle Greeting Cards “will make people smile.”

“They will use what they learned this week in the school year, as grown-ups and in their future career,” Rich-Wheeler told the parents.

Each camper received a certificate of completion, bag of school supplies from ShopRite, and half of the money they earned from selling raffle tickets.

Parents received good reports from their children. Duke’s family moved to Mt. Airy a month ago. His mother found out about the camp. “He loved it,” she said. “He has more friends than I do.”