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Tycoons in training

Tycoons in training

August 5, 2015 — 

Nine-year-old Lauren Morphy says a simple investment strategy helped her earn huge returns in the stock market this summer: “Buy low, sell high.”

Of course, she wasn’t investing real money in real stocks, but the strategy did pay off in a stock market challenge she won at the Business Tycoons day camp she enrolled in this past July.

Offered by the U of M’s Mini U program, in partnership with the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Asper School of Business, the camp introduces 8- to 11-year-olds to the joys of business and entrepreneurship.

Under the guidance of a senior Asper student, campers experience real-life business situations and learn about marketing, customer service, sales, teamwork, finance, budgeting, and human resources. They even create a business plan and pitch their ideas to judges, Dragons’ Den-style.

Lauren’s mom, Ewa Morphy, says the camp was the first one her daughter picked out of the Mini U catalogue. “I think it stood out for her because it was a unique alternative to the more physical, athletic Mini U camps she’s loved in the past. She’s super artistic, creative, and a very natural leader, and she thought this would be a great way to share her creativity with others.”

Lauren says the instructor, Asper student Eric Guy, was “phenomenal and funny.” He kept campers engaged with hands-on, interactive activities that emphasized teamwork while exploring basic business concepts. “His energy was contagious.”

For example, campers learned about budgeting by using a small supply of toothpicks and marshmallows to build special structures. They had to use their resources carefully and work as a team to achieve their objective.

They also had to put their entrepreneurial decision-making skills to the test by playing a video game that simulates building your own amusement park from the ground up.

Amy Briscoe, program coordinator for the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship, says the camp aims to plant the seeds of entrepreneurial thinking in fertile young minds – and from what she’s heard and observed, it’s succeeding. “The most valuable lesson we’ve learned from our campers is that you don’t have to be a certain age to have the same passion, drive and determination that a 30-year-old entrepreneur has.”

Ewa says the camp is a great way to not only introduce kids to the foundations of business, but to get them working successfully as part of a team, develop their presentation skills, and build confidence.

It can also get them excited about their own potential.

“Until now, Lauren always talked about becoming a teacher. Now, she sees other possibilities, too—there’s this spark in her eye when she talks about someday starting her own business.”

The next Business Tycoons camp runs August 24-28. To find out more, visit miniu.ca.

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