Students get taste of the business world at summer ‘Youth and Money Camp’

At a session of this summer’s Youth & Money Camp in Mt. Airy, 12 students ages 8 to 14 learned business basics and know-how. To mark the end of the program, the campers spent a day learning about the food business at the new ShopRite on Fox Street in East Falls and presenting the business plans.

The camp, a program of The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise in Mt. Airy, has been run since 2008, and is part of of the Center’s Urban Youth Entrepreneurial Program for middle and high schools. More than 45 students attended throughout the summer.

On Aug. 23, the students, with instructor Valerie Joseph-Darden, and her assistants, Central High School senior Abeni Watts and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore Julia Reeves took a field trip to the new ShopRite.

The store is a state Education Improvement Partner, which means they get a tax credit from the state for donating to the program, according to the Center’s executive director, Pamela Rich-Wheeler.

“That enabled us to offer scholarships and tuition on a sliding scale,” said Rich-Wheeler.

ShopRite cashier Tiffany Moore guided the group through the store and the area where online orders are received and prepared for pick-up or delivery.

In the store’s community room, Watts led a discussion about nutrition, and then an exercise on building a cost-efficient turkey sandwich. Using a worksheet that listed ingredients and prices, they calculated unit per item, cost per unit and unit per meal.

The students split into three groups to figure out how to best sell a sandwich. Watts noted to the class, “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.”

Decisions came down to the number of slices of turkey, amount of mayonnaise and if potato chips should be offered on the side. 

The culmination of the program also “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.”

“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.”

Business plans varied from a French tutoring company to a greeting card comoany. 

8-year-old Tamara Choitz’s business was dubbed Jewel Java. She said she started it beause she would be able to “do what I love and earn money.”

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

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