This year’s “BizKids Camp,” run through the Northwest Business Centre, attracted seven youth, who spent last week learning all about how to run a business before testing out their own ideas at “Market Day” on Friday.
Many of their businesses were based on baking—selling their treats and crafts to the public in front of the Fort Frances Museum from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
And while all of them had slightly different products, they all agreed this was an awesome summer camp to attend.
“My business is “Jenaya’s Sweet Treats” and it’s like a candy store,” said 10-year-old Jenaya DeBenetti.
“Some of the products I’m selling are a candy shovel, which is just a shovel with a bag of candy inside, and then I have candy kabobs,” she noted.
“I [also] made candy sushi, wrapped with fruit roll up, I have chocolate-dipped licorice, and then the leftover candy I made little treat bags,” DeBenetti added.
Her summer display showcased her assorted candies tied in cellophane with bright ribbons.
“We learned what was bad advertisements and good advertisements, good pricing and bad pricing, customer service, and all sorts of stuff in between,” DeBenetti remarked.
While she learned a lot, her favourite memory took place during their down time.
“My favourite part was when we went swimming and I was having a piggy back ride on Cameron’s back,” DeBenetti said, referring to Cameron Chambers, the NBC’s summer student who assisted in running the camp.
“I really enjoyed making this stuff and I will always remember ‘BizKids Camp’ as one of my favourite camps,” she added.
Morgan Beckett, nine, had her table filled with colourful potholders and vases overflowing with cake pops.
She had to try a few different recipes before finding one that worked for her cake pops, then she decorated each one differently.
“I have vanilla and chocolate, and all the icings are coloured white chocolate,” noted Beckett.
“We learned that we should be smiling when we’re doing the business, how to set up good, and good pricing.”
She said her favourite part of the camp was doing the brain teasers, like “dom” with an ‘O’ around it was “domino.”
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Kaylen Cunningham was one of the few youth not selling food; choosing instead to make wind chimes.
“Well, I started off wanting to make small robots, but the price was a bit too much so instead I looked on Pinerest for ideas,” she said.
“My mom got a really good idea of making wind chimes out of forks,” added Cunningham, noting it was something she once saw as a decoration in a restaurant.
“I’m selling them for $10, so I’m probably going to get at least $70,” she guessed, saying she had about 10 chimes for sale.
“It was the best camp ever,” Cunningham enthused. “There was a lot of games and competitions.”
Dave Lyle, with the Northern Ontario Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative (NOYEI), was in charge of teaching the camp.
“During the week, we take a look at starting a business—everything from developing a business plan, bank loans, marketing, promotion, advertising, placement, pricing,” he explained.
“It’s a fantastic time each time,” he added.
“We meet kids and see what creative ideas they come up with, and it’s just neat how they interpret the marketing process.”
For Lyle, this is what he does all year, teaching students from Grade 3 to college “about entrepreneurship, about the inventing process, the marketing process, and writing a business plan.”
“It’s a really cool way of flaming the spark that is in young entrepreneurs and giving them the chance to explore what they can do with it,” echoed Diane Schwartz-Williams, who organizes the program for ages nine-12 for the Northwest Business Centre.
She noted the students also toured Taggs Source for Sports and Betty’s downtown when they weren’t in “class” at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
“It teaches them some of the things they need to know about how to start a business, how to run a business, make a product, and sell a product,” Schwartz-Williams said.
“It’s a fun week and they earn some money, they make some new friends,” she added. “They learn a lot of things in the process.
“I am not sure there’s ever been a kid that did ‘BizKids’ that didn’t enjoy [the camp],” she stressed.
“That didn’t walk away feeling good about what they’d done, feeling good about their product, and happy with what they’d sold.”
Schwartz-Williams also thanked the NOYEI, the Ontario government, and the community for supporting the popular program.